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Katsucon 2012
Day 2

by Crystalyn Hodgkins,

Overheard at the convention:
"Michael Bay is jealous of this show." - Adam Sheehan talking about Sengoku Basara during the Funimation panel.

Day 2

I have one question for the Katsucon cosplayers this year: why Homestuck? Seriously, I think 1 out of every 5 cosplayers at this convention were from Homestuck. I'm totally OK with attendees cosplaying as Western-made video game characters at anime conventions, and I've even come to accept the occasional Jack Sparrow (which thank goodness seems to be a declining trend), but Homestuck? It has absolutely nothing to do with an anime convention! (although the two Homestuck panels and the four My Little Pony panels at Katsucon would argue with me on that particular point).

Hetalia History with Walter Amos

After listening to Walter Amos talk about Hetalia and the panel he runs on the show on the ANNCast a while back, I thought it'd be interesting to see what this panel was all about. Hilariously, Amos started the panel with clip of a previous ANNCast where Zac and Justin express their doubts about Hetalia fans actually becoming inspired to learn more about history due to their interest in the show. Amos' panel is dedicated to proving that it is possible, and it has, in fact, happened to many Hetalia fans.

After playing the ANNCast clip, Amos talked about how he stumbled upon Hetalia and how he found out from a teacher friend of his that it was popular with students. Amos then shared comments he's gotten from Hetalia fans; for example, that the show made them think of their history books more than just words on paper, but of real people and real events.

For the rest of the panel, Amos played clips from Hetalia and then explained the history referenced in the clips, or he explained how a quick one-liner in the show related to how things really happened in history. He used clips from other live-action television series and films such as Fall of Eagles to illustrate his point. And surprisingly, when he was explaining these events in history, the audience would make exclamations such as "Oh I know that one!" and "I remember reading about that!" Many in the audience were actually very attentive throughout the entire panel. When it seemed as though Amos was getting a bit too lecture-y, he usually managed to pull it back to Hetalia with a new clip or a piece of fanart that incorporated real quotes from historical figures.

However, the panel was two hours long, and by about the one hour mark, the audience that started out as standing room only began to dwindle a little. Amos' history lesson part of the panel sometimes seemed to wander a bit off topic, but he was always incredibly enthusiastic about the subject and made even those parts interesting. But two hours is a bit of a stretch for that kind of panel; one hour would have been a much better limit.

Basically, if you like Hetalia and want to learn a bit more about history so you'll get more of the show's obscure references and jokes, attend Amos' panel. If you're a history geek and you think that Hetalia is completely ridiculous and just yaoi fangirl catnip, attend Amos' panel, because his panel proves Hetalia isn't just either of those things.

Izumi Matsumoto Tells All

During Friday's Q&A panel, when asked if Kimagure Orange Road would get a digital English release, Matsumoto's translator told the audience to attend Matsumoto's Saturday panel, and that panel did not disappoint. As the audience (which was much larger than Matsumoto's Q&A panel) was trickling in, the panelists were showing different five-minute videos featuring stills from the Kimagure Orange Road anime set to music. One of Matsumoto's translators also passed out a press release to the audience that gave information regarding Kimagure Orange Road's English publication on NTT Solmare's Facebook app "ComicFriends" in April. Eventually, the manga will also be released on the Kindle and on Apple's iBooks platform as well. When I asked one of Matsumoto's translators later about the pricing structure, I was told that the pricing will be the same as the manga that is already on ComicFriends, and the pricing structure revolves around the use of Facebook points. In addition, the manga will only be available in English in the U.S. for now.

Matsumoto's translator then gave a summary of Matsumoto's works, which Kimagure Orange Road, Sesame Street, New Kimagure Orange Road, and the Comic On CD-ROM series. Kimagure Orange Road has been turned into an anime, a novel series, and a radio drama.

Next, a representative from Hivelinx, the company behind the English digital adaptation of the series, discussed ComicFriends. Hivelinx decided to use Facebook as the medium for ComicFriends because of the social media aspect of the website. As people read the manga on Facebook, that information shows up on that person's news feed, and so all the reader's friends on Facebook will be made aware of the manga. In addition, people can actually leave comments on the pages within the application, making the experience in general more social, and allowing fellow readers to communicate with each other and discuss the manga through the app.

After we were shown a few slides of what the Facebook app looks like (see the picture below), the audience was treated to a 15-minute Comic ON video of the Kimagure Orange Road one-shot "Panic in Sentō!" ("Panic in the Bathouse!"), which was released on CD-ROM in 1996. The video itself is basically a voiced drama CD animated with colored manga panels, complete with speech bubbles. Having been released only digitally in 1996, the experiment seemed to be ahead of its time. Unfortunately, one of the scenes in the bathhouse had to be skipped due to the panel being an all ages panel, which Matsumoto said was a bit of a shame because it was his favorite part of the entire one-shot.

Matsumoto then presented some slides of images of Kimagure Orange Road that he drew last year, noting that before then it had been 10 years since he had drawn the series.

Matsumoto ended the panel by saying that he would draw an illustration of Madoka and give an autograph to anyone in the audience who came up after the panel and bought a Kimagure Orange Road calligraphy board.

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