Anime Boston: Panel Report

Sorry, no corn.

Which is to say, Media Blasters did not have a panel. I have no doubt that if they did it would be awesome, but unlike the other American anime distributors present at Anime Boston (AD… ahem, excuse me, Sentai Filmworks and Funimation), they did not have one nor is it their policy to have one. I actually spoke with the folks at the Media Blasters table, and asked why they didn’t have a panel. I was told that they just don’t have panels unless the con specifically requests it, as they feel like it really isn’t their thing. They’re a much smaller outfit than Sentai or Funi, and have no desire to be that kind of company at all, so they do not see any point to conducting that kind of industry event.

Speaking of industry panels, would like to hit up the Sentai and Funimation panels first. Sentai’s panel was very… low-key. The vast differences between the size and capabilities of Funi and the next-largest distributor were pretty obvious when contrasting the two panels; I actually got in line for the Funi panel right after I left the Sentai one. Where Funi was extremely slick, Sentai was, well, if anything, sloppy. The projector wouldn’t work initially for the showing of the first dubbed episode of Angel Beats, and the speaker (I apologize, but I quite honestly am not aware enough of the American industry’s people to remember his name) didn’t seem to have much familiarity with some of the properties Sentai is releasing. In particular, Senkou no Night Raid’s “announcement” seemed like an after-thought, and I’m not entirely certain that the panelist actually knew that it was an announcement. He simply mentioned it’s DVD release date (sometime in August) along with a slew of their other properties, and when asked a clarification question by an audience member (which boiled down to “Is this the show Senkou no Night Raid?”) appeared confused and unaware of what the show was at all. (The show is being retitled “Night Raid 1931”, by the way.)

Now, admittedly the panelist is busy working on Highschool of the Dead right now, along with one other show I can’t quite recall, so Senkou no Night Raid isn’t within his lane. However, considering he was the individual sent to represent the company at a panel, I find his lack of knowledge about other properties within their release schedule problematic. I don’t expect nor do I necessarily want Sentai to be conducting something like Funi’s panel. But at least have your representative at an industry panel know the basics about the shows they are discussing.

The Angel Beats dub seems fine. I don’t like dubs, honestly, so I’m not a very good judge of them. My only complaint is the upped crudity of some of the language used in the show, but this is a criticism I have across the board of the dubs being produced these days in the North American industry… and, uh, by “across the board” I mean “with Funi and Sentai/Section 23”. Nozomi doesn’t do a lot of dubs, nor does Media Blasters, and of those MB does many of them are hentai, so… non-issue there as far as crudity is concerned.

Moving along, in the questions section we had a continued denial that Sentai has anything to do with ADV. While I can understand market reasons for denying such a thing, I can’t help but be irritated by the disingenuous nature of the denials considering that downstairs in the dealers’ room ADV DVD’s intermingled freely with Sentai and Section 23 DVD’s on their table. It was, too, the way in which the denial was done that bothered me; I would describe the panelist as almost hostile about it, where a simple “No, we are a different company.” would’ve sufficed. I also disliked the way in which the panelist evaded part of a question in which the involvement of most of ADV’s staff in Sentai was mentioned; he noted that he did not leave ADV for Sentai, as he left ADV for another venture or company, and was hired by Sentai a couple of years after that. While this may be true strictly speaking, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not stupid. I doubt that Sentai thinks I’m stupid, but they are attempting to treat me that way.

Really, its those ADV DVD’s on the table that got me, though. If you want to play that game, fine, but don’t put those DVD’s on your table. Blow out the stock some other way. ADV has been gone as a brand for about a year and a half, Sentai doesn’t “own” those shows, so stop trotting them out on the table and telling me that the companies have nothing to do with one another.

Switching gears a bit, the Sentai panel was a really great demonstration of the fact that, actually, more people want dubs than want subs. The panelist asked the us who would be willing to purchase a sub-only Blu Ray. In a room of about fifty people, myself and maybe three other people raised their hands. This is the sort of thing I think it is very important for us to keep in mind, as we tend to think that all American anime fans are like us, e.g. anime bloggers and their readers. Most American anime fans are not like us.

Sentai also gave away some DVD’s, which was cool, although I was bummed that I did not get any. And, even though I may sound like I hated the panel, I liked it more than the Funi panel, although that may be purely a matter of my allergy to corporatization =)

The Funi panel was huge. And it was mostly trailers for stuff that I did not care about. They also announced the simulcast for Aria the Scarlet Ammo. The trailer they showed for that actually had me interested in checking it out up to the half-way point, at which time it became incredibly obvious that it is another moe, harem piece of crap. Ah well!

I suppose ultimately my issue with the Funi panel is I don’t have much interest in watching trailers in a convention hall, as I can very easily watch trailers without even getting out of bed. I am much more interested in hearing the people speak, because I cannot hear industry reps speak from my bed usually.

The folks from Funi did talk about the re-launch of their website, too. They’re trying to streamline it a bit, as their current website is, as they put it, “cluttered”. The new website will feature more in-depth social media stuff; while they stated that they are not trying to become the Facebook of North American anime fandom, it does sound a lot like their platform will have many similarities, albeit with forums included.

If you were at the panel, I was the first person to leap up to the microphone when it came time for questions, and I asked whether the Shiki DVD release next year will include episodes 20.5 and 21.5, the (as-yet unavailable) DVD-only episodes for the Japanese releases. They couldn’t give me a definite answer on it, as the release is still fairly far out, but they did say that they most likely will appear on the release. They also demonstrated a familiarity with the property itself (basically they said “oh, those are the episodes that didn’t fit in the airing schedule, aren’t they?”), which was a nice change of pace from the Sentai panel.

I also have to give the panelists credit for handling a persistent audience member who was demanding why Funi never got back to him about letting a rep be a panelist on this guy’s One Piece panel at the con. They were very polite to him, even as he was hogging the microphone and generally being ridiculous.

Speaking of rogue audience members… wow, the FAKKU panel. That got a little crazy during the question section. A guy who had been filming the entire panel pulled a total “gotcha!” on the FAKKU guys, and was eventually asked to leave by the Anime Boston staffer who was in the room at the time. The guy had been demanding to know why they were promoting games that aren’t available in America and talking about downloading translations from their website. He had a very valid point regarding legality, but the manner in which he did the whole thing, ending with talking about how he had the whole thing on film and was going to report them to the con, cast his motivations in dubious light. I really don’t think this guy legitimately was doing it purely for the sake of a desire to defend copyright laws; I think he wanted attention. As I said, he was asked to leave by a staffer, as he had become increasingly loud and hostile toward the panelists and was preventing other audience members from engaging with the panelists.

Again, he did have some valid points about legality. But he was extremely rude and disruptive. He also ignored responses by the panelists for the most part, instead continuing to go off in his own direction and also deliberately misunderstanding what the panelists were saying to him. There was a potential here for some good, thoughtful conversation about piracy and translations and copyright law, but the audience member was too busy trying to make a scene to allow for such an exchange.

Anyway, as for the other panels I attended, I would like to say I was very lucky in the panel roulette. I got into every panel I wished to attend with the exception of ‘The Dark Side of Pokemon’, which had a really crazy line by the time I got out of the Funi panel, unfortunately. I also found all the panels to be worthwhile which I attended, with the exception of one where it was more a matter of me as opposed to the panel not being particularly good. For reference, here are the non-industry panels I attended:

  • Fanthropologies: Participation in Anime Fandom
  • Experts of Fan Controversy
  • GLBT Manga & Anime
  • Pokemon! and Everything About It
  • The Not-So-Boring Kimono Panel
  • Visual Novels and Eroge
  • Anime and the Reality of War

Hmm. On paper it doesn’t look like as much as it felt…

Fanthropologies was that weird moment wherein the thought process inside my head was “wait… WHAT?! PEOPLE FROM THE INTERNET CAN BE ATTRACTIVE?!?!?!?!?! I AM SO CONFUSED”. Haha. Which, uh, isn’t the most intellectual of responses, but it was my first one. As for actual content, I did enjoy it, I just don’t really have anything to say about it.

I found Expers of Fan Controversy to be much, much more interesting. I wish I’d taken notes so I could say who had said what, but I am not that kind of con-goer, and the only ones I recall the full names of are Ed Chavez, because I was trying to work up the courage to go up afterward and be all “Uguuu~ I love Vertical~ don’t mind me, I’m gonna clasp my hands and cry tears of joy over your company while standing in front of you right now.” (I didn’t manage to), and Alex Leavitt since I’ve seen his tweets once in a while.

However, I found the comments by the Texas A&M professor (whom I may or may not have just internet stalked the hell out of to find her name… and failed) to be of the most interest, as she spoke about the European market and anime/manga, something I just don’t have much literacy with. She mentioned that in Italy companies just publish manga without even bothering to get the licenses first, and then disappear and pop up again under other names to avoid legal issues. She spoke a bit about the differences in audiences from country-to-country as well, using Princess Tutu’s popularity amongst kindergarten-aged Italian girls versus its popularity with older American audiences as an example. It got to where I was looking forward to what she had to say about the questions posed most out of all the panelists.

The GLBT Manga & Anime panel was fantastic. The audience was mature, which was great, and there was a lot of audience members helping to answer questions that were posed at the end. I myself recommended Fu Fu to a young woman who asked about yuri titles having to do with adoption or just merely involving women who have children. Of course, the panelists did mention both Aoi Hana and Horou Musuko, so of course I was going to walk away saying it was a great panel. And they also mentioned Erica Friedman of Okazu, so obviously they knew their stuff =) The panel itself just had such solid content, and the audience was friendly, so it was a really nice experience. I had the con warm-fuzzies afterward.

Anime and the Reality of War is another noteworthy panel I attended, and also another one in which the audience was very mature. In fact, there was no one in the audience under the age of fifteen, which is pretty strange for a con. There was one young man who was sixteen, but other than that it seemed everyone was eighteen or older.

This was the panel that almost made me and much of the audience cry, as we watched the first two minutes of Barefoot Gen during it and the panelist spoke a bit about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He also spoke about Gundams and the fact that they are essentially a throwback to the samurai era, something I am so beyond astounded I never noticed before because after he said it it seemed so obvious. Essentially, he said that the Gundam is an attempt to make the individual matter in war again in defiance of the fact that the more we engage in modern warfare, the more obvious it becomes that the individual’s particular efforts do not matter (there are obviously some exceptions, but the core reality is true).

During the panel, I quickly scribbled down a few anime and manga that include war as a theme in them that I thought the panelist might find of interest, along with their American distributors and a brief description. I included Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherryblossoms, Simoun, Rail of the Star, and Senkou no Night Raid on the list. Initially, I didn’t have Senkou no Night Raid on there, but then the panelist spoke about the experience of looking at German textbooks about WWII versus Japanese textbooks about WWII, and I figured he’d probably find the depiction of pre-war China intriguing.

Aaaand then I went home. I was hoping to hit up another couple of panels, but it is Easter, so I had to go home and drink wine with my female relatives. At ten past three in the afternoon my aunt knocked over a glass of wine on the table. Before anyone cries “heathens!” I would like to remind everyone that Jesus had a habit of turning water into wine, so~ =)


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3 Responses to Anime Boston: Panel Report

  1. odorunara says:

    All the non-industry panels sound so cool! Thanks for sharing this.

  2. E Minor says:

    I’m disappointed I couldn’t hear more about the dark side of Pokemon.

    Of all the things you described, I would probably be most interested in the Gundam/samurai talk, particularly the notion that individuals used to play a substantial role in war. I wonder if that’s just not due to modern culture being less likely to romanticize war figures like we tend to do with past figures like the Desert Fox, George Washington, or Nobunaga.

  3. foshizzel says:

    Angel beats dub!? Awesome stuff, I don’t mind the dubs so much for most anime after all that’s how I got into all of this in the first place. Guess people can always turn on the subs instead? Anyway sounds like fun hopefully Funimation uploads the con videos! I shall look for you hahah

    Funi usually has the big panels from what I can tell, then again I haven’t ever been to any so I wouldn’t really know xD

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