Digital conventions are becoming a mainstay due to the current pandemic, and fans are clamoring for more! Anime North presents Momiji’s Online Experience, Anime North’s first online event, was held on Twitch between July 24-26.
Day 1 started with a blast from the past, as Dave Merrill hosted a section where fans got to reminisce about their Anime North experiences. Bits and pieces of past Anime North conventions were shown on-screen.
The next panel was a talk on the history of Bushido and its relation to Samurai. Starting from the Heian period, the various depictions of the Japanese warriors have continued to amaze and fascinate both its Japanese and Western audiences.
The Japanese Apocalypticism fan panel talked about the concept of upheaval (apocalypticism) as depicted in various anime like Death Note, Akira, Japan Sinks, Your Name, Gojira and Shin Godzilla. The massive impact of World War II has caused a shift in how contemporary apocalypticism was represented, and this was most obvious in the 1954 film Godzilla, which is famous for its depiction of nuclear anxiety. In Akira, various elements were added to the post-apocalyptic world where consumption is central; this includes the rebels inspired by the communist movement, and the protesters, which were inspired by the various student protests held in the 70s. The 90s were characterized by three major incidents that caused an impact on society: the bursting of the economic bubble, the 1995 Kobe earthquake, and the devastating Sarin Gas attacks. These happened within 2-3 years, which caused a growing sense of dread within Japanese society. Neon Genesis Evangelion, the grandfather of sekai-kei, was aired during this time; the show encapsulated Japan’s growing sense of uncertainty and the Japanese loss of faith in the pre-existing order. From the sekai-kei genre, the survival-kei genre was born, with its notions of discarding very close relations and that individual survival is paramount. Death Note, where the protagonist is willing to murder to upend a corrupt system that no longer works, is a reflection of this sentiment.
The next section was a Q&A panel with Veronica Taylor, the voice behind Ash Ketchum of Pokemon. One of the highlights of this panel was Veronica talking about what she found amazing about Pokemon, which is that it opens up possibilities inside all of us.
The Awesome Anime of the 70s, 80s, and 90s panel talked about the anime of yesteryears. Starting from anime that crossed over and were introduced as cartoons in the 60s, these shows were often redubbed for a North American audience. In the 1970s Force Five introduced the western world to mecha anime, and following the formula of Force Five, three mecha series were combined into one anime called Robotech.
The next segment was a half-hour long segment with random anime clips, including the famous Gundam x Hello Kitty collaboration videos.
The next part was a segment of the 404s playing a round of anime improv. The participants got up to all kinds of hijinks as they aimed to out-improv the other team.
The last part of the first day was Survival Horror Picture Show, a game where people had to guess what horror game was being shown based on various pictures. Definitely a treat for the horror game buffs!
Day 2 began with Fashion Aesthetics in Anime, a discussion on the depiction of various kinds of fashion in anime. From Mitsuru Adachi’s covers that break away from the stereotypical jock body to anime influences in drag, in which their bishoujo aesthetics have influenced certain drag queens like Rock M. Sakura, and to the various costumes that Sakura Kinomoto wore to her various battles. Of course, no anime fashion discussion would be complete without talking about the contemporary chic style of the Sailor Moon gals. Look at their poses!
One Piece is a very long manga, and given its length, it may be really daunting to get into it… or maybe you tried watching/reading it, and about a 100 episodes in, you just couldn’t get into it. The One Piece: Is It for you? panel helped those who may want to get into series and examines why you should try One Piece (or why it may not be for you). All in all, the title has excellent worldbuilding with good emotional payoffs, but the portrayal of female and LGBTQ+ characters leave much to be desired.
The (A Taste of) Those Chinese Cartoons panel introduced us to some fantastic donghua from China. While some of us may know the donghua of The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, other donghua were also featured. One is the fantasy donghua, Big Fish and Begonia, where a spirit girl barters for the life of a human boy with half her life. There’s also Flavors of Youth, which is a collaboration between Haoliners, a Chinese company and CoMix Wave Films, the ones behind the phenomenal hit, Your Name.
The Cosplay Makeup Tutorial with Jennifer Lynn Mountain from Applied Elegance panel discussed the various types of makeup and how to use them to amplify your cosplay.
Anime Wheel of Fortune was the name of the game as the participants try to guess the key anime-related phrase!
In the Isekai Anime panel, Pause and Select talked about the ever-popular Isekai genre and what makes an isekai. He points out that it is important not to be so strict about the definition of what is or isn’t isekai, but to think of it as a clump of various concepts that define what must be isekai. The isekai, as we know it, has no precise lineage, and the titles influence one another in parallel. The panel also talked about the different ways the protagonists arrive at these worlds: one would be tensei or reincarnation where the cause of death could be a means of social commentary, for example, the issue of karoshi (death by overworking).
The next panel was a Q&A session with voice actors Ellen Mc Clain and John Patrick Lowrie. They answered questions on their roles and even handled personal topics, such as same-sex marriage, where Ellen quipped that it’s wonderful that everybody could get married now “because she wants everyone to be as old and as boring as she is.”
The next panel was the Manga Planet and futekiya Industry Panel with Chairman Hyoe Narita, Editor-in-Chief Emma Hanashiro, and Producer Gladys Angala. They shared a list of the titles that they’re currently releasing on Manga Planet and futekiya, and announced upcoming titles to both platforms, much to the delight of fans.
Hyoe Narita gave us his insights on the manga titles that were announced. He mentioned that he used to be a salaryman and jokingly quipped that he (mentally) punched people just like Kintaro in the upcoming title Salary Man Kintaro. They also answered questions from the viewers, that ranged from working with Japanese publishers to their favorite voice actors. Since they are a part of an anti-piracy drive, they announced the sixteen manga that participated in the STOP PIRACY! Campaign, which have been translated to English and available online here on the Manga Planet Blog.
If you missed the Manga Planet and futekiya Industry Panel, you can watch it below or on our YouTube channel!
The next panel talked about Anime 1980. Covering anime like Toward the Terra, Fujiko Fujio’s Kaibutsu-kun and cat idol anime The Saga of Sue Cat, this panel was a blast from the past.
For tabletop gamers, there was a stream of tabletop gaming session with D20.
And for the last panel, graphic artist Steve Bennett (formerly of Iron Cat Studios) talked about his experiences in the con scene and regaled us with the stories of the con past.
Day 3 began with a panel on Detective Conan (Case Closed) and its impact on pop culture. It is one of the longest-running manga series with over 1,000 chapters released in Japan. Various trivia about both the series and its creator Gosho Aoyama were discussed during the panel. Did you know that Conan was used by the Ministry of Affairs of Japan as part of a PR move to educate children about their work? There is also a Conan Town in Tottori prefecture; Aoyama’s former hometown Daiei merged with Hojo town and formed Hokuei, which is lovingly dubbed as Conan Town.
The Mario: The Brand Ambassador panel tackled the world of Mario, one of Nintendo’s most beloved characters, and the tie-in products related to Mario. Some of the products include foodstuffs like curry and macaroni, tissue paper, and even an Ice-capades show.
The next panel was about COPPA and how it affects Anime Review Channels. COPPA stands for Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, as a means of ensuring that children are safe online; it was created as a response to Google/Youtube getting data from minors below 13 years old. YouTube has passed the buck to content creators after getting heavily fined by COPPA. The new standard set by YouTube hurts content creators when they are forced to mark their content as for kids since the limitations like the video being unsearchable and the video making as much as 90% less revenue are hurting the creators’ incomes.
The next panel was a Video Game Quiz Show, which was a treat for video game enthusiasts. After that, there was a Yosakoi Workshop with Sakuramai, where several of the Anime North staff taught some seriously sick moves inspired by Japanese dance.
The Japanime Games Industry Panel was hosted by Jackson Wood and gave us an overview of their company and the games that they publish. They deal with bringing games from Japan to the Western audiences and also help with publishing anime-inspired games. Due to the current situation, they have switched to having Kickstarters instead of physical shows. They gave us a preview of how some of their games like Cowboy Bebop Space Serenade run on Tabletopia, which is a tabletop simulator.
The next panel was Pokemon Central, which was hosted by Pokemon megafan Cupcakedex. She talked about various tidbits you might not have known about the pocket critters, like its influence in science; a series of sea slugs were named Pikachu nudibranch, and a protein was named Pikachurin after Pikachu’s lightning-fast moves. Pokemon also made its presence known on the Milan Fashion Week, and you can even have Pokemon-related weddings in Japan!
The final panel was a Special Guest Q&A with Cricket Leigh, who is well-known for being the voice of Mai in Avatar. The interviewer recounted his first encounter with Cricket where she signed autographs in the middle of a ball pit. Cricket mentions that it was so fun that she couldn’t resist doing it. She gave a message to her fans who are stuck at home that it’s important to vent out and talk to somebody during such trying times.
Momiji’s Online Experience may have been less star-studded compared to Anime North’s usual offerings, but in terms of fun content, it didn’t fail to keep up. All in all, it was a pretty exciting romp for Anime North’s first foray into digital conventions, and we’re hoping to see more!
How was your Anime North Online Experience? Tell us on our Twitter account!
About Manga Planet: Read manga, support artists
In 2012, Manga Planet started as a joint project between Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. and FANTASISTA, INC. to research and explore the ways manga is read throughout the world. Aiming to bring new manga to fans from all over the world and support artists and the industry, Manga Planet pushes for affordability and access to manga through a subscription-based service.
Readers who subscribe to Manga Planet and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. By the end of 2020, subscribers will have unlimited access to at least 500 titles. To subscribe, please go to read.mangaplanet.com and create an account. More information is in our Guide.