I Hosted My First Panel, and it Will Not Be My Last

Several times I have watched as a panel unfolds, and wondered to myself if I could do anything interesting for the anime community the same way these people are. If you have been to an anime convention, chances are your curiosity led you into a panel room at least one time or another. Some of them are brilliant. Panels that are a highlight of the convention, and have fans excited to return the next year. Other, however, not so much. Sometimes the subject of the panel simply doesn’t draw a crowd, or the host does a poor job of crafting an exciting atmosphere or discussion.

Should I Host a Panel?

It was because I always felt like I’d be one of the bad hosts that I never got around to hosting a panel, even though I really wanted to. Well, this year, this convention, was different. It’s my favorite convention and I wanted to do something more than just stand there and take pictures. I wanted to be more involved. I’m not a cosplayer. Sure, when I have extra money, I would gladly commission someone else to make me something to wear, but I don’t prioritize it. So cosplaying is out the window. I’m not a performer. I don’t have any acrobatic stunts, or acting skills to take part in a stage performance, so those are out the window too.

But I really, really like anime, and I love the most resounding moments that anime can bring. After many months of meeting people who simply have not watched a large amount of anime, I decided on what I wanted. A panel that focused on certain scenes of anime that show just how powerful, intelligent, artistic, and downright exhilirating anime can be. I, alone couldn’t impress this upon people, so I wanted to host a panel that would draw people in who are curious about watching new anime, so that the scenes I show could hopefully open their mind to at least one new anime.

I’m kind of a huge supporter of the anime industry. I believe it’s one of the most creative sources of entertainment in the world. I like meeting people who are also fascinated by anime, and I also love talking to people who don’t really know what’s so good about it. I was just finally ready to step up my presentation from simply telling poeple that anime is awesome, to giving a full blown presentation in front of whomever is curious.

The Panel Begins

My panel was at 2pm on a Saturday. That’s the busiest day during one of the busiest hours. I didn’t want that for my first panel, but that’s all that was left except for the ones that felt too late. If I disappointed people, I wanted to disappoint as little as possible. My friends supported me, and said they would be there as well. This had me even more nervous because I felt like, maybe, for the first time in my life, I would also force them to sit through something unimpressive that I am the cause of. I wanted to entertain my friends, and provide a strong case for anime as a whole in front of all the strangers as well. That’s why I shivered on the spot, after frantically setting up my laptop to the TV and getting the sound to work properly, when I stood up and found that my panel room was completely full.

*gulp*

I’ll be honest, I was unprepared for this panel. I didn’t have a script. I didn’t even really know how to start because I had no idea what the turnout would be, and how I would feel. I just said I would wing it. I like winging it because it’s the best reflection of your natural personality. For example, when youtubers edit their videos to make them really fast and to the point, one is always surprised that, in person, they sound much slower, and stutter naturally like all of us. However, I said my opener, and rolled the first clip…and it just worked. I felt like this was easy. As the scenes played, I could breathe calmly, and avoid my panic.

There were mistakes, and apparent things I want to change. The pacing, even though I tried to mix it up, still hit a too-long period of similar tones. That’s an easy fix. Many scenes required more set up which means I should try to cut maybe one or two scenes from the timeslot to give more time to properly introduce the remaining scenes. And finally, the dang TV was way too small. This is anime, and as such, every scene was subtitled. I felt horrible for the people in the back who I knew couldn’t hope to read the subtitles from there. That’s a bit of a more challenging fix, but I hope that next time, there is a projector set up.

The best part, that completely outweighed the mistakes, was the crowd reaction. I tuned a lot of it out because of nerves, but many scenes got a better reaction than I could have hoped for, and they were active in asking questions about certain things. There was one girl who asked if the format of the panel would be ran differently. I hope she doesn’t feel like she killed my momentum, because I appreciate her offering alternative methods. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever be able to run it in the format she presented, which would basically be the fans calling out random scenes they love, and trying to find them online, unless I happen to have that scene ready to present on my laptop. There’s just too much anime for that.

I Want to Keep This Up, and Make it Better.

After the presentation, I thought it would fade into the wind, even though I already knew I wanted to do it again, but people were approaching me, long after the panel was over, and congratulating me, or asking if I’d be hosting it again. The sheer amount of honor, and companionship I felt over this, over relating with the anime community, made that answer obvious. I will be trying this panel at every single convention I go to from now on.

In the future, I already have things to change. Things I didn’t have time for, or things that I realized right afterwards. I need a bigger screen. I will take extra measures to make sure what type of display my panel room has before booking it. And while this first one used a single room, I might need a double room next time. Before each scene, I will have a picture that I can use to visually summarize whatever I need to set the scene up. That will be much quicker than words, and make each scene more effective. Finally, a good friend of mine wants to co-host, offering up some host variety, and a different take on anime in general. She’s very insightful, and loves anime as much as I do, so I know people will love her. All of this will hopefully make an even better panel next time. I will be at Holiday Matsuri, and rest assured, at that panel, there won’t be a single repeat of a scene from the one I just hosted.

*Shout Out: Apparently there was someone who was cosplaying Ginko from Mushishi? I never got a chance to express my excitement because even though I didn’t have any scenes of it for the panel, Mushishi is my favorite anime of all time. Whoever that person was, kudos to you. Thank you to everyone else who approached me, applauded, and even showed up to my panel. It means the world to me, and it gave me the confidence to continue!

The Scenes

So, as requested by a few of my audience, Here is a list of every scene I used in the panel. I can’t link straight to the video because youtube copyright robots will take them down the moment they become aware of them. Keep in mind that this wasn’t EVERY scene I have in my collection. This was a small percentage of them that I decided to show for this particular panel in the one hour time slot. This means, at future panels, you can expect many different scenes as well.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – One is All

2. Sword Art Online – Asuna vs Yuuki

3. From the New World – Ancient History

4. When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace – Hatoko’s Breakdown

5. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU – Nice Girls

6. A Certain Scientific Railgun – Crossing the Bridge

7. Summer Wars – Koi Koi

8. Kuroko’s Basketball – The Zone

9. Clannad: After Story – Heartache Proposal

10. Death Parade – Ice Skating

11. Fate Zero – I Want to Be A Hero

12. Hunter X Hunter – Panic and Rage

13. Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works – Berserker

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5 thoughts on “I Hosted My First Panel, and it Will Not Be My Last

  1. I really enjoyed this post a ton! Would love to check out one of your panels. How did you go about getting into the hosting position for something like this?

    • Thanks man! Well, I just checked the conventions website, and I basically had to send in my panel idea for approval. It took a couple weeks but they approved it, and the rest was up to me to make sure it happened at the right time. I loved it! Anime, even at conventions, aren’t always represented the best. Conventions are typically only where popular anime shine, but not critical darlings, so it’s up to US to give them their due representation. hahaha

      • That’s very cool! I wholeheartedly agree about representation. I feel like that is how my space dandy marathon theatre screening is going to be. Lol. I’m actually hosting it and will be doing a presentation on anime as well before the screening.

  2. Well, you did an absolutely awesome job! I know I enjoyed the panel quite a bit! (I’m the blonde in the picture, cosplaying Black Canary!) My friends and I certainly had a lot of fun and you showed some awesome clips! I hope you host another panel next year!

  3. Wow! Congratulations on a successful panel!! That’s so exciting that people asked if you’d do it again, I can image how awesome that must feel!

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