AnimeNEXT 2013: Panels and Events

It is funny. I decided to take a short little break after finishing my general impressions post and look and see what other people were talking about when it came to AnimeNEXT this year. And funnily enough there was a video review of the event that mentioned that the panel selection this year was really weak. I on the other hand thought there was a fairly strong turnout this year. Other than one panel I really enjoyed the selection this year. While I don’t think AnimeNEXT has the reputation for panels like Otakon or Anime Weekend Atlanta they do have a good selection that includes everything from high-minded academic ruminations and feminist theory discussions to fun video panels and dynamic guest panels.

And this year so many less “Me and my friend’s answer dumb questions in character while cosplaying”  panels which I HATE so very much. So what panels did I go see that this review so clearly missed out on?

Just in case you were wondering I am saving Mike Toole, Sayo Yamamoto, and Hiroshi Shimizu for the next post that just talks about the guests of the convention.

Sadly I will mention the return of the horrible interrupting cows. Like last year we had several people who did not seem to know how to just let people do what they are doing on stage. Sometimes it was lame commentary track attempts, other times it was an attempt to outshine the panelist about their subject matter, and other times it was just extremely awkward behavior. But thankfully while there was more people consistently doing that this year overall they were a little less disruptive. It might have helped that Mike Toole stopped in the middle of one of this panels and laid down the Verbal Hammer of Thor on one wannabe Crow T. Robot. So while they were out in full force they were a little less effective as panelists were more inclined to put them in their place.

There was a group of ladies doing some interesting panels this weekend. I only saw all of one of their panels in full but they were a brilliant group. Their Female Stereotypes in Shojo and Josei Manga panel was strong. The three panelists each had their own take on the topic so while they were all on theme each segment felt different from the other two. Two panelists just looked at the broadest archetypes you usually see in manga aimed at women while another looked at the evolution of the role of mothers. But all the sections did a good job at looking at a wide variety of shows from different time periods. They looked at everything from Sally the Witch and Creamy Mami to Say “I love you” and My Little Monster. It felt a lot like a personal feminist anthology panel as opposed to a single monolithic unified critique.

I caught the last half of their Samurai Stereotypes in Historical Fiction Anime and Manga panel. It like the best of these panels uses anime and manga as a springboard to teach the audience about important historical moments and figures and then tempts them do more research independently.  While at the same time they also used the historical facts to maybe get you to check out certain anime you maybe have never seen. The key is throwing in some fun stories with the dry facts to make everything go down smooth.

I think they also did the Shojo Manga for Men panel but I missed it when I was invited out to dinner. If anyone saw that panel I would love to see what they thought of it.

I only caught the last part of Awesome Animation Not From Japan but it was a really impressive panel from what I saw. I feel that while these panels are usually pretty enjoyable they tend to draw from countries like France which we see all the time. This panel looked at titles from places like Israel, Serbia, Denmark that usually get overlooked. It really seems that as CG has gotten cheaper and more commonplace a lot more countries are able to try their hand at animation. Also if the idea of a Serbian cyberpunk movie does not interest you I’m not sure what better hook there is. I linked to a post on the panelist’s web page that has all the cartoon he mentioned if you were curious to see what he was talking about.

Anime Pilots and Precursors was a fun little panel that looked at short anime that would one day be turned into full-fledged series.  It had such humble beginnings as the Lupin pilot (but sadly not Lupin the VIII) and the infamous Jojo’s movie. It was a broad selection with some odd titles like Seikimatsu Leader den Takeshi! and Ninku as well. Sadly while the presenter was top-notch he was often interrupted by two audience members who seemed to believe this was a RiffTrax audition. He tried to turn the audio up a bit while they were talking to give them the hint but they refused to take it. Looking back I regret not saying something as my duty as a fellow panelist.

Ed Chavez showed up doing his normal amount of blowing your mind with manga knowledge. I was only able to attend the first half of the Vertical Industry panel but it seemed like the gritty movie reboot. Apparently Ed was a bit depressed and it clearly came through in the panel. But thankfully he was in slightly better spirits when he did his panel on the manga licensing process. It was an expanded version of the little segment he did at Genericon. It went into the real nitty-gritty of how a series get localized with all the gory steps like the bidding process and the realities of printing books. It does a good deal to demystify the process that people like to speculate on and often incorrectly. It’s really worth going to if you have any interest in manga in general.

I was sadly disappointed that Visual Novel panel was a no go. It might have been horrible but it also could have had some great titles I otherwise overlooked. I also was unable to get in the Jojo’s Posing School this year. But that is a great thing. I have been talking up that panel for a few years now so I’m glad the new TV series has gotten more people to attend.

I only went to one bad panel. Or more accurately one panel I did not enjoy. That was the General Mecha panel. It was your standard “Lets introduce people to mecha” panel that does not wind up introducing anyone to mecha.  I would like to state that at its core there was a good panel there. From what I saw of the slides it was not like the panelist was incompetent or under-prepared. He clearly came with a full length panel that had some good intro mecha sh0ws with a clear path towards learning more advanced shows. So he came with his A-game. It was just that the some people in the audience had a different agenda.

Some people just wanted to talk ROBOTS and derailed any productive conversation almost immediately. And so it ended with a discussion of a detailed analysis of the Moonlight Butterfly (where ALL discussions of Gundam power levels do). The main thing is once people started just shouting things out it quickly turned into a real life forum discussion and not a panel. I’m sure that the audience had fun (which is in many ways the most important thing) but the panel failed in its stated goal. But that is how most intro mecha panels completely fail at actually introducing people to mecha.

I myself would have would have liked it if the presenter had a little more control over the audience. A little banter is fine and helps people stay engaged. Her just needed to wrestle control away from the audience much more often.

And last but not least were my own panels. I wound up being part of 4 panels in total. I did three by myself and was the last leg of Evan Minto’s Panel Lightening Round. I was not originally scheduled to be on the panel but after one of the participants dropped out I was asked to step in and add a new section on Friday for a Saturday panel.

The Lightening Round panel itself is an interesting idea. It is 5 different and unrelated mini-panels on topics either to small for a full panel or as a trail run for a full-fledged panel. My part was only a 10 minute section on some musical references in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure but I’m quite proud of being able to put it together in such a short amount of time. It was hardly an introspective look into inner working of the soul of the anime medium but I think it was decent for the amount of time I had.

I will mention that I ran over time on all of my panels. It was totally my fault for not properly pacing myself but the main problem was my shaken confidence after Genericon. Because I was racing through my panels after starting late when I was talking at RPI I totally convinced  myself that all my panels were too short despite the fact that they ended on time when I practiced them.

So I threw in more content into all three in hopes that I would not just be standing there asking for questions when I ended 7 minutes early. Instead I ended up dashing through or cutting short my panels for time. Once again proving that I work far better as a panelist with someone to bounce off of.

Other than that I think the three solo panels went well. I got a few people congratulating me on the panels after they ended which is always encouraging. I’m glad to see that the themes of Fate/Stay Night panel went over well as that mostly untested experiment. I might go and see if there is interest for a Tsukihime version. I also have a good feeling of which references to keep in my next version of the Hayate panel and which should be swapped out for new material.

I know one of the most common complaints is that it can be hard to motivate people to go see panels at cons who would rather just hang out in the halls being the convention equivalent of mall rats. But overall I saw a solid panel attendance for almost every panel that was after 12PM at AnimeNEXT. It seems unless a panel is about Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure it is hard to convince people to get out of bed before lunch time after a night of debauchery. But that is perfectly understandable. Other than that most panels had packed rooms with many panels needing to turn people away. That is a problem most panelist pray for.

But I have to say AnimeNEXT is obviously doing something right. They have a nice synergy of being lucky enough to have some smart people in the tri-state area who love to inform and entertain their fellow fans while going out of their way to court said experts. It is a wonderful harmony that makes coming back to AnimeNEXT each year so wonderful.

Other AnimeNEXT 2013 Coverage:

AnimeNEXT 2013: Tweets
AnimeNEXT 2013: General Impressions
AnimeNEXT 2013: Guests

14 thoughts on “AnimeNEXT 2013: Panels and Events

  1. vincea says:

    I’m guessing some of the complaints are coming from folks that want:
    – MLP:FIM panels
    – zombie apoc panels with no anime content
    – Homestuck panels
    – etc

    As you know we’re trying to refocus the con on anime and attract primo anime panels & guests. I think the NYC metro area deserves a ‘real’ anime event… I want to be that event. This year was step one,

    • reversethieves says:

      Apparently the dude felt that your American voice acting guests were all B-Grade VAs and wanted “real” talent. Actually what he said that AND therefore there were no GOOD guests but we clearly only cared about careful selection of American voice actors. Also he felt the American VA panels were not up to snuff.

      AKA someone I don’t care about but could complain about.

      – Hisui

      • vincea says:

        Yeah, found his review earlier this AM. Responded to it on YouTube. I think we may add more US VA talent next year but I’m not inclined to invite his #1 pick.

  2. matty says:

    Will you ever record and upload your panels in the future? Something for those of us cursed and condemned in the west coast can nibble on? :3

    The scheduling is interesting to me, as I’ve only been to AX and they start things pretty early. Panels as early as 9, and fairly packed. I would say before noon, there could be about 4 or 5 going on at once. Even besides panels, things kick off pretty early (save for concerts…). I’m just always fascinated by how each con operates. I don’t go to many of the smaller ones locally, but the ones that are unique in some way are always worth looking out for.

    5 panels!? You are a beast! It’s cool you try out different things, too. I always check out new panels at cons to see what’s out there.

    • reversethieves says:

      Narutaki is no a big fan of our panels being recorded. I know she is worried that bigger cons might not want panels that are easily available online even if most of the material is new. The fact that both of our joint Otakon panels were rejected this year does not help that fact.

      If you were curious my Hayate panel was recorded if you wanted to see that.

      Well there were some packed panels before noon at AnimeNEXT. I mean the Jojo’s panel had to turn a good number of people away at that was at 10 am on Sunday which can often be a death slot. It is just most panels are at least 3/4 full any time past noon. Heck I could just not get into several panels because they were all full.

      – Hisui

  3. Daryl Surat says:

    AnimeNEXT actually sounds pretty awesome. The things you note as minor inconveniences there are actually the primary defining aspect of other conventions because a con of this scale can afford to mitigate those factors by the presence of content. The earlier post where you listed your schedule suggested that, at any given hour, there was something for you to go see. This is EXTREMELY uncommon!

    Con reports from anime bloggers are fascinating to me, since there’s generally a strong chance that the convention they attend is mentioned as one of the ten largest in North America according to AnimeCons.com. In the case of this post, AnimeNEXT isn’t actually in the top 10. It’s about in the top 15. That said, there were roughly 337 conventions with anime programming last year, so that still puts it within the top half of one percentile.

    Out of curiosity: did it feel that way? Did going to AnimeNEXT feel like “man, this is like, significantly above and beyond what most other anime conventions offer”? Or was it just “a good, standard con”?

    Because–and I’m no longer actually talking about you at this point, it’s more in reaction to that Youtube video you linked–while it’s never immediately apparent from reading most online convention reports, it should be noted that what are often considered “general observations” regarding conventions may not necessarily apply to the other 99.5% of cons that happen in the rest of the continent. Someone could attend multiple conventions a year, yet depending on the area in which they live they could go almost entirely to the most resource-heavy anime cons in the Western hemisphere. It can skew your perspective, like with the guy in that video.

    As someone who lives in one of those areas of the US doesn’t have a single Japanese bookstore (aka nearly all areas of the US), I can only make it out to about 2 cons falling within this upper echelon a year: the kind of anime con that can actually have a panel about MANGA. More than one, even. That’s not exactly an option among the 99.5%! For the remainder of the year I’m reading about such luxuries by way of places like this.

    • vincea says:

      I will. of course, be ‘framing’ the “AnimeNEXT sounds pretty awesome” comment somewhere. I hope that in some not so far-flung day you can experience it yourself.

    • reversethieves says:

      As for the always something to do: How many people go to Otakon and really are only interested in a small handful of panels and most see everything else is killing time? And I’m not talking about hallway kids who whole raison d’etre is to go to the con and play ninja tag and gawk at cosplayers. I’m talking about hardcore panel goers whose agenda is get as much big guest and panels time as possible. One man’s heaven is another man’s hell and all that.

      But I think the panel selection is usually stronger than most medium sized cons. It also depends on the year. Otakon say usually always has a top tier selection of panels. AnimeNEXT is usually good but some years are MUCH better than others. Some years are MUCH worse than others. It is JUST small enough that you can get some major fluxuations in quality.

      AnimeNEXT sits nicely in that sweet spot of not being in the top 10 but still going all out like it was. They get the panels and guest like a bigger con but they don’t have that level of pressure and formality that a big anime con will have.

      I mean I make a big deal about it exactly because it has an experience that is “significantly above and beyond what most other anime conventions offer.”

      If you want the good but very standard con from the area I have my Castle Point Anime Convention reviews. They are a prime example of a generic small (but not utterly tiny) con experience in the Tri-State area.

      – Hisui

  4. vinnieave says:

    From the Desk of ANext Panels;

    I’m glad you liked that we had a diverse array of panels. Yeah, this year big problem was space sadly but I am hoping to become one of those cons that people list as a great panels con. Hopefully we can see some of the speakers come back. I think we can work on getting some more diversity in the topics but that is a major goal of mine and the con as a whole. There have been cons where I’ve seen 5 or 6 panels on the same topic. For me I’d rather see no more that 2 on a topic and give every topic a chance.

    Chris Cimi from Verical did Shojo Manga for Men.

  5. George J. Horvath (@LandofObscusion) says:

    Thanks so much for your remarks about my Anime Pilots & Precursors panel. Considering how my Shonen Jump panel had to get cut short due to the hallway issues & my Kurumada panel was (as usual) barely attended the Pilots panel definitely had the best reception, it seemed. I tried my hardest to handle the riffing duo, and I thought it worked. I’ll also try to find that Lupin VIII footage for a future Pilots panel!

    • reversethieves says:

      As an audience member you allowed a certain level of rudeness that a panelist might be be granted. You turning up the volume was a definite polite but stern, “Hey guys! Knock it off.” But they were just dense. Only a Mike Toole slap down would have stopped those two.

      BTW the Lupin the VIII pilot can be found here. There is no audio as the pilot never got far enough be be voice acted.

      – Hisui

  6. Aimee Maddox says:

    The JoJo manga used both advantages of its medium to their fullest extent. Araki put an enormous amount of detail into every panel, and his excellent framing of scenes is what resulted in all of the aforementioned “iconic” panels becoming so iconic in the first place. Not to mention all the infamous “JoJo poses,” which are so expressive that they essentially transcend the need for motion altogether. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for the anime to overcome visually is the fact that JoJo’s character designs are so intricately sculpted that they would be nearly impossible to animate smoothly.

  7. Neil Mcdonald says:

    The JoJo manga used both advantages of its medium to their fullest extent. Araki put an enormous amount of detail into every panel, and his excellent framing of scenes is what resulted in all of the aforementioned “iconic” panels becoming so iconic in the first place. Not to mention all the infamous “JoJo poses,” which are so expressive that they essentially transcend the need for motion altogether. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for the anime to overcome visually is the fact that JoJo’s character designs are so intricately sculpted that they would be nearly impossible to animate smoothly.

  8. Lloyd L. Ross says:

    Thanks for making this thread! I’m quite fond of this series, and I think it has the best fight scenes of any manga I’ve read, particularly its emphasis on clever tactics and applications of powers. Even though this series is popular and influential within Japan (quite a few fighting game characters are inspired by Jojo’s cast) A lot of anime/manga fans I’ve met don’t seem to know about this series probably because of its age, the fact that only part 3 was licensed, and the lack of any strong anime adaptations and I would love to see a good anime adaptation of this series. I can imagine how awesome some scenes like the motorcycle chase in part 4 would look animated, and it’s already awesome in the manga. Haven’t finished Steel Ball Run yet and I can’t read Japanese so I’ll have to wait for people to finish translating it, but I enjoy it a lot so far.

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