Final Anime Midwest post – The Panels.
Posted July 14, 2014on:
So I recently posted about a bazillion photos (part 1, part 2, part 3. that’s almost a bazillion, right?) from Anime Midwest. Yes, the people watching and cosplay was the highlight of the weekend, but I did things other than sit in the lobby and photograph people! The convention had tons of programming, there were panels about cosplay, about specific shows and fandoms, Q&As with famous voice actors, concerts, there was so, so much to see and do. Hubby and I went to a few panels together, but there were so many good panels that were all occurring at the same time, that it was mostly “You go to this one, I’ll go to this other one, we’ll compare notes later”.
Here’s a recap of what we saw and did:
The first panel we went to was called Dialects of Kansai. The woman who hosted the panel studied and lived in Japan, and was doing a series of panels over the weekend about Life in Japan. Students who study Japanese learn the “standard” Kyoto dialect, but Osaka uses a much older dialect and language patterns and casual slang that goes about about 1,000 years. I didn’t understand most of the Japanese she used, but it was a really cool panel. She also did the Kimono panel I went to later Friday evening.
I caught the last 20 minutes of the Q&A with voice actress Caitlin Glass, who anime fans know as the voice of Winry Rockbell, Haruhi of Ouran High School Host Club, Evergreen of Fairy Tail, Petra of Attack on Titan, among many other roles. She is such the perfect nerd! She said that as a child she loved the movie The Little Mermaid so much that she’d walk around imitating Ariel’s voice. She studied classical theater in College, and took the “never close any doors” advice to heart, later auditioning with Funimation in her home town in Texas. It was a huge crowd, and she was great about answering everyone’s questions and having a lot of fun.
Kimono Kitsuke – Run by the same lady who did the Dialects of Kansai panel, this was a tutorial on how to wear a Kimono. She took a volunteer from the audience, and due to time constraints, dressed her in a two layer Yukata while telling the audience about kimono culture. For example, all Kimono and Yukata are the same length, they are folded over at the waist to adjust to the height of the wearer. Two belts are used to keep the kimono at the right length, and then the wide decorative belt, the Obi (and it is ALL about the Obi!) is tied in an elaborate bow in the back. So few women in Japan wear kimono on a regular basis that classes are taken to learn how to put on, adjust, wear, walk in, and tie the Obi. She talked about how if a woman is wearing the kimono correctly, it will make her body look like a tube. But kimonos are also a method of communication – are you single, are you married, what age group do you fall in, etc. And how can looking like a tube possibly be sexy? When you are facing someone and you bow, you suddenly have a chest. No cleavage is shown, but these is a tease. If you are facing away from someone and you bow, the kimono accentuates your butt. If you are kneeling or crouching, it accentuates your butt even more. there is a lot of subtle body language communication you can do while wearing a Kimono. You just can’t really run in one.
We went right from a panel on Kimono to a panel on Japanese fashion subcultures! there was a huge Lolita fashion presence at Anime Midwest, and one of the experts hosted a talk on other Japanese Street subculture fashion styles and what looks and accessories define each style. Shopgirls who work at the avardgarde fashion stores are often fashionistas themselves, and will wear particular labels and styles to promote who they work for. There are also, for lack of a better term, performance artist models, who are known for putting together outlandish outfits and being photographed on the streets of Tokyo. The photos in her slideshow were incredible, and more can be found at ToykoFashion.com. She went into a little of the history behind Lolita fashion. And just so there is no confusion, Lolita Fashion is just about the opposite of what most Americans assume it is, here’s the wikipedia entry if you’d like to be more educated about it. And here is a beautiful Sweet Lolita lady who let me take her picture:
Hubby and I both love Hayao Miyazaki, so we made it a priority to get to the Saturday morning Ghibli panel. In a dark room, we watched snippets of films as the panelists talked trivia and obscure facts about Hayao Miyazaki and his personal connections to his films. Many of the people in the audience of the panel were dressed as Ghibli characters, the two ladies we were sitting next to were dressed as Satsuki and Mei from My Neighbor Totoro. There’s something that happens when you watch Ghibli films with a hundred other fans, and that something is truly magical. If you ever get the chance to see a Ghibli film in a local theater (check your local arts or university theaters!), do it!
Cosplay Confidence – what a great panel! The woman doing the panel opened her talk with costume disaster stories, since parts of her cosplay had already been damaged/trampled, and she had limited time and tools to fix it before heading off to the Costume Contest. There was a lot of talk about getting used to wearing your costume (can you walk up and down stairs in it? can you climb out of it yourself if you have to go to the bathroom? Where will you put your phone?), and discussion of wigs and wig care. She talked about studying the character, lines and poses they are famous for, so you can confidently pose for photos and interact with fans as if you are that character. Cosplay is about appreciation and love for the fandom. You’re not just dressing up as that character, you get to be them for a day! There was some fun joking around that if you can “come out” as a cosplayer to your family, you can survive anything, especially any jerks who might diss your outfit. She even gave some tips for crossplaying male characters. I stopped into a few cosplay panels during the weekend, and this was by far the best one.
Later in the day I stood in line with a few hundred other fans for the Q&A with Sonny Strait. Not only is he a comic book artist (he had a whole slew of comic book panels he was doing), he is also the voice of Maes Hughes, Lupin III, Usopp of One Peice, Krillin of Dragonball, Drocell of Black Butler, and Toonami Tom. trust me, you know his voice. He had a great time, hamming it up with the crowd, talking about his early training in stage acting, and how he misses performing in front of a crowd. The question I got to ask him was “What advice to you have for someone interested in becoming a voice actor?” and he said “Aim to become an actor”. Well…. there goes my future in voice acting. I’ll just keep leaving people weird voicemails. ;)
I attended one panel on Sunday morning and it was “Women in Geek Culture”. The woman giving the presentation is a huge fan of comics and video games, so that is mostly what she talked about. she touched on everything from how we define who is and isn’t a geek, that many geeks see themselves as outsiders and are often mistrustful of new people in their group, “fake geek girls”, that 40-45% of gamers are now women, the oversexualization of female super heroes. There was much discussion of the abuse many female gamers face in MMOs and other gamer chat areas, where there is no consequences if men hurl insults and/or threats at them, and what people are doing to stop this, such as screenshotting the character with their screen name, and posting their information on a website that “outs” these abusers. We all got some chuckles when she showed slides of The Hawkeye Initiative, and artwork depicting female superheros in more realistic clothing. Her presentation only went about 25 minutes, I would have loved if she’d talked longer.
And yes, I was dressed up for a while on Saturday. Not any particular character, more a thrift store challenge! The skirt, blouse, tie, and schoolbook satchel all came from various charity and thrift shops, and I bought some seam-binding for the hair ties. and? the skirt had pockets! (because OF COURSE it had pockets!).