NDK - Additional Panels

To wrap up my NDK Sweet 16 experience, I'll be discussing a bit about some of the other panels I got to see this past year.  There were a lot of panels to choose from this year, but of course with limited time frames, other panels occurring at the same time, interviews, eating, etc, there's no way I could get to all I wanted.  That's okay though, as I felt that the panels I did attend were interesting and had a good time at them.

On Friday night was the "Tales of the Supernatural" Panel lead by the East Blue Cosplay group.  This panel discussed stories called Kaidan (or  Kwaidan depending on westernized spelling) which are a type of supernatural tale, popular during the Edo period of Japan.  A Kaidan wasn't meant to be strictly gory so much, as it was meant to be unsettling or strange.  These tales also had a Buddhist theme woven through them; where the pious were often rewarded and the villainous were often punished.  The Kaidan were meant to explain the unusualness of the world and how people survived (or didn't survive) these encounters with the supernatural.  Some story examples are a blind monk losing his ears due to retelling of an ancient battle in a cemetery to those who fell in said battle; a merchant meeting faceless people on his travels; a man marrying a snow demon; and a samurai who goes to join his lover in the afterlife.

A game evolved from the story telling of Kaidan called the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (100 Tales of the Supernatural, roughly in English). This story telling game involved three interconnect rooms where participants would take turns telling tales and go to an adjacent room, blow out one of 100 candles lite there, look into a mirror and go back to the group room.  The goal was to tell 100 tales and invoke the spirits of the supernatural world to come on the completion of the 100th story.  It is said though that most participants would quit before the 100th tale was told as they were afraid to enrage the beings of the other world. 

What brought the Kaidan's into the present day is the labor of a Greek man named Lafcadio Hearn, who collected many of these oral stories in the late 1800s and published a book of Kaidan in the early 1900s.  His efforts preserved many of these tales and helped spread the Kaidan to the western world, increasing its popularity.  It should also be noted that Kaidan refer only to supernatural stories set in the Edo period, while there are present day tellings that have Kaidan themes, a true Kaidan refers to that time and place only.  If you'd like a list of anime and movie titles that have Kaidan themes or would like to know more about Kaidan, I suggest visiting East Blue Cosplay's main website to get a bit more background on Kaidan and suggested titles.

I also saw the English dub premier for "Aria: The Scarlet Ammo" on Saturday.  We were shown the first 3 episodes of this series.  The dubbing was good and the concept of the series was intriguing.  There is a school in Tokyo for an elite group of teenagers training to be mercenaries.  They are contracted by various outside groups to be bodyguards, soldiers or assassins.  The series follows a male student who has a gift that he doesn't want to use and wants to drop out of the school and lead a normal life.  However, he decides to continue attending the school after he meets Aria, a girl vastly more skilled than her peers.  She saved his life from a supposed captured murderer and now they wonder what this killer's purpose is.  The show was fast paced and not too fan servicey, which was good.  The audience also seemed to highly enjoy the preview.  The series is set to be released on October 23 and you can currently watch the subtitled version at Funimation's website.

Later on Saturday, I attended the "Steal Like an Artist Panel", held by a fellow RMCAD student (my alma mater college).  Her panel focused on using the "Steal Like an Artist" book by Austin Kleon as a jump of to the keeping your creative inspiration.  This is something that I personally struggle with as I feel I have the taste of art but the skill level and exact interpretation to paper are still a bit lacking.  She gave suggestions for how to keep inspiration at hand, such as using Pintrest and Stumbl Upon.  Also by keeping in touch with creative peers so you have a sounding board to discuss ideas and projects and see what is or isn't working in your art.  The main portion of the panel though was open to the audience to ask questions or to give suggestions to others.  I think it's a good reminder to me that I'm not the only creative person struggling with their own art and that there are means to overcome it.

"The Anime Counting Contest" was after "Steal Like an Artist", and wasn't so much a panel as a fun, torturous time.  For those of you who have never participated, you are given an anime episode to watch that has one particular thing a large number of times.  You are meant to count that one thing throughout the episode and get as close as possible to the actual count.  There are also rules dealing with scene cuts, the counting subject going off and coming back on screen and specialty rules, such as it counts as a particular item when a certain part of it can be seen.  The Rule of 20 is another specialty rule that might be applied if the screen is just filled with too many to count, you count it as 20.  The current Anime Counting Contest though has been dropping the Rule of 20 and you have to count everything on a full screen.  The worst this year was counting books as most of the episode took place in a library. There were approximately 5,600 books. I felt better about my guessing this year as I got 5,322 books, so only off by a couple hundred. 

One of my last panels was the "Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary Panel" on Sunday morning.  This anime series holds a special place in my heart as it was the first anime I watched, before I knew it was anime.  When I was in middle school, it used to be on Fox at 6:30 in the morning.  I would record the episodes on the VCR and watch them when I got home after school.  I was the target audience for Sailor Moon when it first aired.  This is the show that got me into anime, drawing more, and going to conventions. 

The crowd was enthusiastic and I was surprised how many younger people were there.  Everyone seemed to have a good time at the panel, by joining in with songs and telling Sailor Moon tales.  The only thing that made the panel a bit lacking is the invention of the internet.  If this panel had taken place even 10 years ago, it would have been informative as people would gather to share information, gossip and rumors about the series and what would be happening next.  However, with the invention of the internet, I knew everything that was discussed and then some because I was able to find out about this stuff years ago online.

The only other big news topics were a quick discussion that a new Sailor Moon animated series (follow this link to an English fan site that has some good info and links to other places) would be airing in Japan next year and would more closely follow the manga and that the American re-make had been proposed, that some of the younger people had no idea it existed, and were thankful it never did. (Click the link above at your own risk. You are being warned of the awfulness it is).  There were also some great costumes in the crowd, with a Queen Beryl winning a crowd favorite Sailor Moon prize.

I'm interested to see what will happen in the next couple of years with the Sailor Moon franchise in the US.  The new manga release has been happening here and with a new animated series coming out, perhaps Funimation will pick up the English dub rights for the new release.  It'd be nice to see Sailor Moon get better dubbing treatment this time around.  Only the future will tell, so we'll see what happens!

Overall, I had an enjoyable NDK experience and hope that these panel write-ups were informative.