Hi all. It’s now been a couple of weeks since Anime Detour 2017, and I figured it was about time for me to post all of my goodies for everyone to look at (not my physical goodies, baka, my panel materials!). Below are panel materials from panels that I (Jessi) and/or J.C. presented throughout the course of the convention, along with a description and some thoughts and reactions. I release these free of charge (obviously) but ask that, if you re-appropriate these materials in some way, please give us a shout-out and perhaps link back to this webpage. Many of these contain clips from copyrighted anime series, used for the purposes of education or criticism. We do not own them, but they are presented because we appreciate them! Info on where to purchase them or watch them online legally is included where applicable. If any of the links have expired, just leave a comment and I can update them.
If anyone has any photos of us that they are willing to share, let me know! We are terrible at taking photos or getting them taken of us at conventions because we’re so busy, so being able to capture those memories with the help of others is always a necessity.
Friday, April 7th
Prior to my arrival at the convention (it’s a long story, but the short of it is that I could not arrive to the convention hotel until later on Friday evening), J.C. and our friend Helen ran an annual quiz-game of J.C.’s invention called Anime by Numbers which apparently went over extremely well! It’s a trivia game that works much better than any anime trivia I’ve seen, for one very good reason – to play, one does not really have to have seen any of the series in question. Scoring points relies on being closest to the numerical answer to the questions, and even people very familiar with the shows will have a hard time remembering the exact numbers (I should know, I’ve helped to write some of the questions, and I’ve only been able to do so by re-watching and counting things very closely in several anime series). J.C. wrote the game program himself and added in a timer this year, which kept things moving. It sounds like he also had some good teams with great participation. I wish someone had gotten some video of it since I couldn’t be there, but alas!
“Manga for Grown-Ups” is a yearly recommendation panel that I give in order to highlight available manga that might appeal to older or more experienced fans. As I mention before both of my “Grown-Ups” panels, this isn’t meant to somehow make a quality judgment about manga I deem for “grown-ups” and manga for a wider audience, but I do think it’s worthwhile to point out pieces of media that might appeal to fans who don’t have as much of an interest in series that focus on the exploits of middle-and-high-school students in a more basic fashion. Personally, I have pretty wide tastes, but I also know that, once you start to creep into your late 20’s it can become more difficult to relate to the anime fandom at large and many of the popular series unless you have something keeping you in the loop, so that’s kind of the point I try to make.
This year I think all the manga I featured are available in physical form, with a couple of titles also available in some sort of online form (Crunchyroll or Comixology being the main ones). I’m going to have to check out Crunchyroll’s new paid manga distribution service (currently in beta I think – I got an update to the Android app a few weeks before the convention and only just noticed that it was there) since there might be something on there that’s not available otherwise.
This is a yearly game we do which serves to poke fun at the fact that many opening or ending animations attached to anime series don’t make sense or are deceptive in some way. We try to get people to think creatively because the point isn’t to “guess” what the show is actually about – it’s to come up with something hilarious and give everyone a good laugh.
We had a great year this year, since we were able to utilize a program that J.C. had written to randomize the entries and clean things up again (much better than me pulling numbers out of a hat and clicking on videos in a Windows folder!). I also got rid of some of the old random manga that was clogging up my shelves, so win-win.
Saturday, April 8th
I run the AMV Contest for the convention, so much of the morning was taken up with those activities. We had a great set of entries this year! A list of finalists and winners is available in my previous post if you’re curious. Local AMV Editor SliceofLife uploaded a video she recorded of the Sunday awards ceremony to her YouTube channel, if you’re interested in hearing J.C. talk and present awards (the mic wasn’t working, and I didn’t want to strain my voice too much, so I let him be loud!).
The Cosplay/Masquerade was also on Saturday, but we weren’t around for it. I haven’t attended the Cosplay competition in many years, probably since I stopped being a greenroom volunteer however many years ago. We tried to catch some of it on the hotel’s closed-circuit TV feed, but that wasn’t working, and neither was the live stream… so we ended up getting dinner instead. Luckily I’ve seen most of the costumes in photo form online at this point, thanks to the great photographers at the con.
This panel is much like “Manga for Grown-Ups,” though it naturally focuses on the anime side. Once again, it’s not a quality judgment in and of itself, just something to help keep older anime fans in the loop and in the fandom. I do this panel annually and normally like to include some older stuff, but there was a lot of great anime from the past year or so that really fit the bill so I didn’t have to reach too far back into the archives. I think next year will probably swing back towards older anime though; so much of it is getting picked back up by companies like Rightstuf and Discotek that there are tons of options out there!
I got to meet a lot of great fans as a result of this panel; people even stopped me in the hallway to talk, which is something that I haven’t experienced much in the past. I no longer have a strong online footprint due to many factors, so it was really nice to feel like I was part of a strong local fandom group again.
This was very much J.C.’s baby, but as tends to be the case when one of us is more the “show-runner,” I served as color commentator while he provided the meaty bulk of the presentation. This was inspired somewhat by the “Every Frame a Painting” focused on director Edgar Wright’s visual comedy; our idea being that anime often does a great job of conveying ideas, moods, and story through visual means rather than just script and dialog, especially since animation in general is a medium that is so reliant on care being put into the visual presentation since it’s created from scratch. There are lots of good examples in there of anime you’ve probably seen and heard of, as well as some you might not be as familiar with (but that we both really like).
I think probably one of my favorite parts of the panel talks about background/setting; I find that it’s often one of the markers of a quality anime when there’s care put into establishing the setting, whether that be your typical high school setting or something a little more fantastic. Some anime are recognizable immediately from their background artwork.
In helping out a bit with this panel, it got me wanting to take a crack at the subject myself sometime. Whether or not that actually happens is up in the air, since I’m a terrible procrastinator and have trouble following-through.
Anime About Anime
This is a panel we presented at Anime Fusion 2016. I wanted to try to make a few edits since we ran slightly over our time at that convention, but I ran out of time leading up to Anime Detour and couldn’t make the cuts that I wanted to make. And then we ended up going even longer and I didn’t even get to play all my videos. Oh well. Usually I’m better at time management, but there was just too much we wanted to say and not enough time to say it.
Anyway, this panel (unofficially known as the “Shirobako fan panel”) focused on anime that tells the story of how anime itself is created, and what we can learn about the industry from that. We go into more detail about the anime creation process (at least in a general sense; there’s a lot of variation and obviously I don’t work in the animation industry so can’t speak from my own experience). I would have liked to also have added something about Girlish Number, which is a newer anime from the past season about voice acting with some peripheral and very cynical ideas about the anime industry, but like I said I ran very short on time. So if this subject is of interest to you… go check out Girlish Number as well! Sakuga Blog is also a great resource about the animation aspect itself; I’ve learned a lot about the animation process and specific animators more recently from that website.
Sunday, April 9th
For whatever reason, Sunday always feels most busy of the three days of the convention. Maybe because it’s the shortest and our biggest panel (Shiny New Anime) is usually on that day. Maybe it’s because I’m already tired by that point and usually schedule myself up to the final time slot. Either way, though I’m happy when it’s over with, I’m also sad that it’s done, if you understand what I’m saying.
This is the panel I’ve been a part of the longest (with a rotating set of co-panelists), and is usually the biggest panel that we do as well. It’s interesting to me, because there are several other “recommendation” style panels at the convention focused on newer anime, and even newer anime that’s not entirely mainstream (though with Crunchyroll, Funimation, Netflix, Amazon… it feels like almost all anime is mainstream nowadays!). I don’t feel like we are filling in some sort of niche any longer or telling people something that they don’t already know, but people are very kind and supportive anyway and I feel privileged that so many people like to come to this one!
Last year was a great year for new anime, as this list attests (there were even enough great shows that there were some I know I didn’t get to in time for the convention – look for those at Anime Fusion later this year). Most years are pretty good for anime, and there’s always at least something out there each season worth watching. But this past year had a ton of great shows for fans of almost all anime genres.
What is Anime?
We got more joke comments about this one than any other panel we presented, I think. And for good reason – why put a panel called “What is Anime?” on the schedule for an anime convention at all, let alone on Sunday afternoon of an anime convention? I know it sounds silly. The panel itself actually grew out of a discussion that J.C. and I had been having one day following some stupid internet drama revolving around an anime-inspired music video. The idea of what actually qualifies as “anime” has grown and changed throughout my time as an anime fan, and been debated over and over again as Western artists become more openly-influenced by the visual aesthetics and storytelling styles prevalent in Japanese animation. So this panel was kind of a discussion about that, with the goal being to try and open people’s minds a bit or at least get them not to worry so much about it. I used to be very much on the conservative side of the “anime” definition, but now that anime has been around in the world’s consciousness for a while and there’s so much intermingling between animators (at least the big-name famous ones), it seems pointless to be so strict (though I’m still not to the point of thinking it doesn’t matter at all, since without at least a few vague guidelines, why bother making a distinction at all?).
The point is really that it’s a more complicated question than one might think at first, and though our audience was pretty small, I think we ended up with a pretty decent discussion. Take that, haters!
We, along with Dave (Anime Detour head of Programming), ended the con with a small (but surprisingly well-attended for the time of day) panel focused entirely on the anime series Erased. I liked the show quite a bit before that, but participating in the discussion about it and hearing others reflect on the various things that they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about it made me appreciate just how successful the show was at so many things. We’re currently re-watching it in anime club, and even I was sort of surprised by how suspenseful the show remained despite the fact that I already knew all the big twists and turns the story was going to take. When I originally bought it I grumbled about the high price of the Blu-ray sets ($90 a pop for 6 episodes each, ugh), but even though I still think that it’s too expensive I don’t feel bad about it, since there’s clearly some re-watch value.
I went into the convention this year with a terrible attitude, mostly because my prep time was truncated and I felt like I just wasn’t 100% going into the convention. J.C. and I are likely looking at starting a family in the near future (something I never thought I would want to do, but sometimes time and circumstances change one’s outlook on those things), and while I won’t let that completely take me away from the convention activities that I enjoy doing, I do realistically realize that I won’t be able to put my full self into it for a while after babby is formed. So that thought was on my mind as the convention loomed on the horizon and I also felt like my career was robbing me of my precious time (not worth going into it in detail because it’s not the job’s fault, but I knew a year ahead of time that I wouldn’t be able to take time off for the con and that ended up sucking).
I have to say though, for as crabby as I was when I showed up to the hotel on Friday evening (and I was really crabby), I had just an incredible weekend. All mishaps were minor, all successes were greater than expected, and I for once felt that I was on my game and knew what I was doing, at least in the moment. I have a terrible case of impostor syndrome, partly just because that’s how I am, but partly because I’ve encountered rudeness online and in person that have made me question my ability to talk competently about anime. Even though I love anime more than just about any other fandom I’ve ever been a part of! But people were so kind, encouraging, and open all weekend, and it really reminded me why I love conventions and Anime Detour in particular. I don’t really believe in luck as an active force in the universe, but I do consider myself incredibly lucky to have been able to know so many of the people I have in my life, because it’s through them that I’ve gotten to be the type of fan I am now (seriously – if my friends hadn’t invited me to help out on Anime Detour staff like 10 years ago, I probably never would have done so many panels and all the things that have come with that). I’m glad I get a wonderful yearly reminder of those influences (also a reminder of how I should try harder to stay in contact with people, since otherwise I turn into a homebody who never leaves the house!).
I’m looking forward to the new location for the con next year. I know a lot of people are a little apprehensive, and it’s a big change – from the suburbs to downtown Minneapolis, it’ll be a big cultural shift – but I’m positive the con will continue to be the great event it’s been for the many years I’ve been an attendee and staff member. Here’s looking towards 2018!