Panel of Doom hosted by Daryl Surat
ATLANTA, September 20 – On the second day of the AWA, I slept in a little. I was tired from the previous day’s travel and didn’t get much rest. I rolled out of my hotel room late in the afternoon to attend Gerald Rathkolb’s (Anime World Order (AWO) host) panel.
He was hosting a panel on AIC in the 80s. Anime International Company (AIC) is an animation studio which produced many beloved OAV titles in the 1980s. Many of the OVA titles made their way to local video rental stores like Blockbuster spawning a new generation of anime fans. Gerald showed trailers from shows like Cybernetics Guardian (聖獣機サイガード), Gall Force 2 - Destruction (ガルフォース2), and Madox-01 (メタルスキンパニック ＭＡＤＯＸ－０１). It was a nostalgic trip through my childhood anime fandom.
At the panel, I unexpectedly bumped into Ed Chavez, Marketing Director for Vertical, Inc. I was completely surprised. I didn’t think he was going to attend this convention. He said that it was a last minute decision. We talked for a bit and made our way to Daryl Surat’s (AWO host and Otaku USA writer) panel. There was some confusion. The time of the panel was pushed back, but there was very little notice in the schedule (except for some fliers in the hallway).
Daryl hosted the Panel of Doom which is a hilarious mash up of anime, live action, commercials, and documentary footage. I’ve seen the Panel of Doom in past anime conventions, and Daryl managed to keep thing fresh by incorporating new videos.
Falling Curtain, Panel of Doom
In the middle of his panel, a large curtain accidentally fell on audience members in the back of the room. It was dangerous because the curtains were attached to large metal poles. Daryl briefly stopped the panel as people were trying to fix the curtain. It was a surreal experience.
After Daryl’s panel, a group of us went to grab a quick bite at the Cumberland Mall’s food court. We rushed back to the convention because Clarissa Graffeo (AWO host and Otaku USA writer) and Gerald had to set-up their Doujin panel.
Gerald and Clarissa’s Doujin panel was an over 18 affair because of all the adult material notoriously associated with doujinshi (同人誌). Doujinshi refers to a wide array of original fan made products related to manga and anime. They covered a lot of material including games, prose fiction, manga, and music.
After the panel, a small group consisting of audience members and panelists talked about doujinshi. The group included: Carl Gustav Horn (Dark Horse Manga Editor), Clarissa, Gerald, Ed, Max, and others. We discussed a variety of topics ranging from Japanese cultural history to the Otaku phenomenon. The group was very nomadic. We moved around to several locations and continued our conversations while walking around the Renaissance Waverly Hotel.
Eventually, we settled down at a table in the atrium. Shortly after Daryl joined us, a security guard walked over to our table and told us that the atrium was closing. Clarissa looked at her watch and remarked that, “its 3:30.” I don’t think anyone realized how long we were talking. I went back to my hotel room and slept.
The Anime Treasure Chest Panel hosted by Tim Eldred
The next morning Ed and I went to Tim Eldred’s Anime Treasure Chest panel. He started the panel in grand fashion with the Daicon IV opening film. The Daicon IV film was an amateur piece of animation created by members of Gainax (株式会社ガイナックス) before they became a professional studio. It was seminal film in anime history. Tim also showed some amazing scenes from the revamped Fist of the North Star (北斗の拳) series. It was a chock-full of awesome. The high budget animation was pretty amazing. I need to get copies of it. Towards the end of his panel, he showed an anime UFO documentary. It was quite bizarre. I need to ask Tim more about it.
Then we attended Clarissa’s Black Jack panel. She did a basic introduction to the manga and anime series. I was amazed that her panel was well attended. Usually panels covering older anime and manga properties have smaller audiences because most younger fans don’t follow older work. I was pleasantly surprised at the turn out.
After her panel, Clarissa and I went over to Carl’s Evangelion panel. He started with a quick rundown of future Dark Horse releases. Smoothly he transitioned into the different Evangelion titles being released by Dark Horse. He talked about his theories regarding the Eva story arc and the multiple endings. The crowd seemed excited. There was a pretty active back-and-forth conversation between the host and the audience.
I briefly joined Daryl at Tim’s Star Blazer (宇宙戦艦ヤマト) panel before rushing over to Ed’s Vertical panel.
The Vertical Panel hosted by Ed Chavez
During his panel, Ed talked about the variety of releases by Vertical Inc. He mentioned some of the Osamu Tezuka (手塚 治虫) releases such as Black Jack and Dororo (Winner - Will Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material). He also promoted Vertical’s non-manga release such as Tetsuya Nishio's Sudoku Plus series, Kentaro Kobayashi's Easy Japanese Cooking series, and Toshio Okada's Sayonara, Mr. Fatty!: A Geek's Diet Memoir.
After his panel, Ed and I ended the convention by attending a viewing of Dave Merrill’s Ozone Commandos. It’s a campy fan produced sci-fi adventure movie. I thought it was pretty wild and filled with tons of geeky references.