As with any convention, there are panels to be experienced and downtime expected. Fan Panels and LARP were all held at the Double Tree Hotel. There was a consistent steady stream of people going in and out of the hotel from the convention center for this 24 hour anime con. I was able to get to panels on Friday and Saturday, so this is a summation of what I was able to go and see.
Prior to the convention, calls for panel submissions is made. Panelist submit topics they feel enthusiastic about, and then if accepted, they are given time slots to present their panels. There may be some panels where the technology didn’t match the panelists exception, but luckily I wasn’t in a room that had an issue. Mainly my issue was size and space. So at the fan panels, since there was a room occupation limit, con staff were at the door to cap how much people were allowed in the room. There were some panels that literally had more people than the size of the room. *cough* Charles Dunbar panels pack rooms. *cough*
Investigating Detective Anime was done by Kate (@narutakiRT) and Al (@hisuiRT) of Reverse Thieves, who for an hour discussed about detective anime genre and how it is quite popular in Japan, but possibly marketed badly in the United States. This is a developing panel, so I am pretty sure Reverse Thieves would be putting it on again. So they introduced plenty of titles, some of which are licensed and others are not. Titles mention were:
Detective Conan, Kindachi Case Files, Gosick, Sherlock Hound, Monster, Paprika, Denno Coil, Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Death Note, (Higurashi) When They Cry, Patlabor, and Daughter of 20 Faces
Got to say, for how many years Detective Conan/Case Closed has been going on, that it sounds like a regular soap opera. It is very popular with some friends, but somehow the manga doesn’t grab me. I definitely recommend Daughter of 20 Faces, Paprika, Denno Coil, and Ghost in the Shell to see. I myself would want to go and check out Sherlock Hound and Gosick.
Kowai: Ghosts Yokai and Fear in Japan is from Charles Dunbar (@studyofanime). He provides his bibliography here for interested readers. This is one of three spinoff panel from his Dead Like Us: Shinigami, Death Lore and Japanese Media at Anime Boston. He pretty much went on for two hours talking and presenting this panel. So crowds at Anime Next was his guinea pig/test crowd for his new panels. Charles have proved to be a charismatic speaker, and definitely his panels are never to be missed. So far the only panel I have never seen of Charles is his Miyazaki one, of which I would hope to one day see.
Satoshi Kon Tribute: Truth From Fiction
Evan Minato (@VamptVo) from Ani-Gamers hosted this panel. This was a slight repeat panel for me, since I saw another incarnation of it at Anime Boston, however Evan really handled this panel quite well. I, as well as many anime watchers are generally fans for Kon’s movies, so it was entertaining to see quirks of Kon in his movie. I noticed there was a lot more references to Paranoia Agent in this panel. Kon in life had loved backgrounds so, if you watch his movies, please notice the background since that was how he got started initially. In August later this year, would be one year since his passing.
Fandom & Criticism: The Art of Active Viewing was a panel collaboration between Ani-Gamers and Reverse Thieves. So on the panel was Al (Reverse Thieves), Poetic Ink (Ani-Gamers), and Evan Minato (Ani-Gamers) and this was a snappy semi-intense discussion on what it is to be a fan and also be a critic. So film critics don’t need to apply, just being a fan and having an opinion can be used.
International Game of Telephone is from Abby and Charles Dunbar. I expected this to be something different. Instead, I was treated to an interesting panel that talks about syncretism, between Japan and United States. Where the flow and exchange of information is as fast as dialing someone’s phone number. An interesting comparison made is how Firefly from Joss Whedon can be considered an American remake of Outlaw Star. How the internet has made exchanges faster and more fluid, so instead of crying copyright foul, Tezuka would probably have felt honored that his work Kimba, got copied in The Lion King.
So where does LARP at Anime NEXT for me comes in? I actually hung around with Charles between some panels. I ran into him at the most random times at the Double Tree. So waiting for Charles, I found myself at the LARP area. Live action role play, and I have seen this group before at Anime NEXT, they are a lively bunch with pretty rich imagination. The process as I imagine is this, you notify the LARP group prior to the convention for on which character you would like to play, and then at convention, get assigned roles and missions. The time spent LARP-ing is possibly up to the convention goer, and as I spoke with one LARP-er, he mentions how fun it is to get his physical body into performing roles of a character. So if you want to LARP, make sure you know of a character’s personality and story in depth.