Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Otakon 2017 Con Report: Saturday

An even busier day somehow! 

Once again no cosplay photo-taking for me, I did a closet cosplay of An from ReLIFE which didn’t work out as well as I had hoped (wig was too long and kept falling out of its braids) and I just plain didn’t have enough time to finish knitting Kaisei’s sweater (from The Eccentric Family). Alas, the lighting in our hotel room was terrible so I didn’t even take any selfies this weekend so there is absolutely zero photographic evidence of any of my cosplays (also as a side note, the Renaissance as the oddest bathroom doors, they’re super-heavy slide doors which, as one of my roommates put it “I’m really glad I’m not having to open these while drunk).

Got through my pre-panel jitters, and remembered to grab my back-up Micro-DPI to VGA adaptor (many folks were having tech issues all weekend and the HDMI cable did not seem like it wanted to play nice with my Macbook Pro so I was glad for my back-up)*, and Shojo You Should Know went off fairly well! This is actually a remake of a panel I did at Katsucon 2016, I had submitted the panel right around the same time I was coming up with the original idea for the Shojo You Should Know column that Muse and I did on The OASG website summer of 2015. But at Katsucon is was called Shades of Shojo, only 10 people saw it (since I got the 9am Friday morning slot) and Otakon had rejected it in 2016. Since I realized back in March I wouldn’t have enough time to fully develop my new panel idea I spiffied SoS up a bit, resubmitted, added in even more series to try and increase the run-time (since I talk so fast that I’m always done early), and presented it to a crowd that the convention center floor plans say must’ve been over a hundred people! As usual there are a few things I’d like to change about it but since I don’t see myself re-doing this panel until 2022 (unless specifically asked to give it at a new con) I’m not going to work on updating it for a bit. Oh and since it got brought up in the Reverse Thieves pre-Otakon podcast (somehow???) I wasn’t trying to get around the “manga [panel] shadowban” but heck, there’s just more shojo manga to talk about so in my mind of course a shojo panel would have to be centered around manga!

I did see one person posting on twitter (timestamp matches early on in the panel, and also I know this person had to leave early) that they hoped that I’d be introducing more obscure shojo titles which is a problem for panels in general but also a specific problem for this one. To wit: I won’t talk about unlicensed series in practically any of my panels (the exception being the Toei panel since a lot of their more recent work is unlicensed kiddy shows) and I’m also hesitant to talk about series that are long out of print and hard to find, or out of print and incomplete. Thus, can’t really talk about any CMX shojo series and they had so many good ones!(I was really tempted to put both Two Flowers for the Dragon (incomplete and the scanlations of the last volume are pretty bad( and Swan (only halfway or so completed and no scans that I last checked in) but just couldn’t justify telling folks “these are great but you’d probably have a hard time even finding originals of this in Japan these days”.

In general however I consider my panels to be at a “201” level. My potential audience members are probably not brand new anime fans if they’re attracted by words like “Shojo”, “Toei”, and “NoitaminA” but they also probably don’t consider themselves super well-versed on the topic (unless they’re my friends turning out to support me which is a sizeable group these days lol). This is also why I go to so few fan panels myself, again unless they’re by one of my friends, I’m a big enough fan that I rarely get anything new out of going to one! I consider “deep dives” to be more the realm of essays, podcasts, or panels that are billed as conversations between people (and even then I do feel a lot of times that I’m just as knowledgeable as they are and like I’m not getting anything new out of hearing it re-iterated over again!). So yes I am totally worried that my panel was unbalanced, that I talked too much about more recent series, that my own personal biases in the series I like means that a lot of them had similar premises (which I will also blame on publishing trends on both sides of the Pacific limiting what I can consume). Buuuuuut, y’all I really did dig through basically everything being currently released by the publishers in the US, in some ways we don’t really HAVE obscure, current in-print shojo manga titles because if any shojo title that’s ever been published in the US was any good there’s chatter about it in the manga circles!  

Oh and the panel went fine, someone tried to rec a shojo manga to me after the panel which I wish I wrote down the title of (since I didn’t recognize it at aallll and when I asked who the English publisher was since I was racking my brain trying to think of what it was she wasn’t sure, so I think it was pirated but I still wanted to look it up), and sadly I didn’t stump anyone with my “is this a shojo title or not?” quiz at the end unlike last time. I also apparently beefed up my presentation plenty since I almost ran out of time which is a first for me!

Once done with my panel I ducked over to Nando’s Peri-Peri since I haven’t had any Nandos since Katsucon (sadly their coleslaw side was really bland this time!) before trekking back over to the convention center. My original plan was to see the subbed showing of In This Corner of the World since some of the staff was going to speak about it, but that was going to take up about four hours of my day and it was just too big of a commitment. I tried going to the panel afterwards, to see if I could still hear any interesting staff comments on it, but bailed since I felt like I’d probably be better off just reading interviews after I finally saw the film myself. Having now seen the movie I’m really bummed that I just didn’t have the time to see it at Otakon, it was really good and I would have loved to hear more of the staff’s commentary on the making of the film (so I'm currently gobbling up every interview I can find with the staff in English, if anyone has read a good one put it in the comments please!) 

With my new free time I checked out the artist alley and dealer’s room (where I managed to find the same dealer who had sold me my black Nyanko-sensei (Natsume Yuujinchou/Natsume and the Book of Friends) plushie back at Katsucon and alerted my friends so now two of my friends have identical plushes (lol) and then returned all the way back up to the panel area for the PA Works panel. Unlike last year’s this one was presented solely by a staff member who just does English-language PR and such (not one of the heads of the studio) but it was a pretty relaxed feeling panel and I heard some interesting comments during it (such as, for The Eccentric Family the producers expected a 50-50 gender split among viewers, trending slightly more male, but found out that it actually trended more female so during the second season they created more merchandise focusing on the Shinogomo boys/plush goods!). 

After that I was free until it was time to start lining up for the world premier screening of the new Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution film which I was determined to see to see just how much of a hot mess it was. Obviously I HOPED it wasn’t a mess but after Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean, which more or less literally shat upon every theme and message of the original series (up to and including giving an older Renton Holland’s voice actor and having him beat his son! Yeah! Multiple people thought this was a good idea!) I didn’t have high hopes.

Hooooly hell though, I didn’t expect this movie to have BASIC PACING AND STRUCTURAL ISSUES WHICH IS EVEN WORSE. I did a full review over on The OASG of the movie but the screening for this was also kinda a mess, got going late (like many of Otakon’s events this year obviously), had the near-traditional at this point “SOUND, SOUND, THE SOUND’S NOT ON” yell, and the room they screened it in wasn’t really made for showing subtitled films so it was really hard to follow the dialogue at first. I kid you not that whenever subtitles appeared I could see the audience in front of me lean left, lean right, and try to find a good place to look between their neighbor’s shoulders at one of the three screens since the placement of the screens meant the subtitles were super low. 

Thankfully they did adjust the video on screen to make it smaller (and therefore the subs were visible) 20 or 30 minutes in, my feet were on the verge of falling asleep since I’d had to sit on them to see anything! I also totally forgot to mention in my review that someone on the creative staff had a fetish or something for on-screen text, it was incessant, was far too much for anyone to read in time (I read fast and couldn’t do it! The english subs were small but when I looked at the Japanese text it looked like a lot of the kanji were pretty squished together), and frankly unnecessary. It honestly made some parts more confusing and just rarely added anything to the film, the whole effect felt like trying to overlay a world-setting guidebook on top of the movie.

So yeah, in theory it could’ve been worse but I have a pretty big imagination which is how I arrived at that idea. It’s a shame since I could see some truly interesting alternate stories for Eureka Seven (like what if Renton had been straight-up raised by the Beams the whole time?) but that is not this movie, not recommended that you see this smoldering garbage pile. 

My Saturday was basically done after that, I got into the Artist Alley again to start buying things once it reopened after the mini-flood (I totally missed the rainstorm during the screening but y'all I'm not kidding when I say DC has some very intense, very short monsoons!) and then it was bed time. I'm happy that I didn't sleep as bad as I usually do at cons (just knowing that I'm guaranteed to sleep badly whenever I'm away from home is not fun) but honestly I can chalk that up to finally finding a sleeping med that actually works on me (Benadryl!). Sunday as always was a bit of a shorter today and with any luck I'll have that final post on Otakon up later this week!

*back up back up is I just read off the panel on my screen and invite people to come up at the end to get a closer look lol. For those interested I did actually make the rare move to save my Shojo You Should Know presentation as a PDF for folks to look over, I did see some folks taking notes of titles during the panel but I was throwing a lot out there and I hope this helps some people out!