Ideas for you to present at your next animanga con!
My favorite part of attending anime conventions is going to the panels and engaging in fandom. It doesn't take too many cons to realize that manga panels (and only manga panels) aren't as popular as animanga or just anime panels. So, I'd like to change that. Below, are manga panel (and just manga panel) ideas for the salesmen, the charmers, and the brave ones to submit and present at the next anime con. Let's increase the popularity of reading and enjoying manga!
1. Mangaka Overview/Appreciation Fan Panels
There are a lot of mangakas that have multiple works published in English for you to dive into and read as I discussed here. You can pick your favorite mangaka with a bunch of works in English and do a presentation on them. If you want to fill the house, you could do a presentation on popular mangaka or mangaka with a cult following such as Rumiko Takahashi, Bisco Hatori, Matsuri Hino, Yuu Watase, Junji Ito, Naoki Urasawa, Clamp, Arina Tanemura, Shuzo Oshimi, etc. (Personally, I've sat through an excellent Clamp animanga panel.)
However, if I were to give a presentation like this, I'd choose a mangaka who could use more fans or needs to make a comeback in the English-language market. You know. Become their cheerleader. Examples include Akiko Higashimura, Natsumi Ando, Setona Mizushiro, Marimo Ragawa, Mari Yoshino, and You Higuri (because I miss You Higuri).
To execute this idea, you'd need to read enough of the mangaka's works to feel comfortable becoming an "authority figure" on the topic. You need to be the mangaka's #3 Biggest Fan, at least.
2. The Great Recession & The Manga Crash
If you love manga and research plus history, economics, or business, this next panel idea is for you. It's been 15 years since The Great Recession and a little under that for the Manga Crash, meaning enough time has passed for people to be unaware or forget. I mean the kids and teens going to the con today would have no living memory of that (or the other Bush recession following 9/11 for that matter). (Hi, fellow Millennial.) So, now's the time to bring it up and talk about all of the manga and companies we lost in its wake. (RIP Borders.)
3. Manga for [insert type of reader]
This panel idea is about recommending manga to people in general, say kids or teens, or specific people. If you read a variety of works and trust yourself to make age-appropriate suggestions, especially concerning kids and teens, you can conduct this panel. While you can use the age rating on the back of the manga to help guide you, I'd recommend you read the work first as manga companies can flub it up as I pointed out in my Love & Heart manga review.
You can go broad and recommend manga for kids (and kids at heart), families, teens, and adults or you can get more specific by targeting adult women or teen girls. You can get even more specific and witty with your recs through titles and themes like "Manga for Moms," "Manga for Superhero & American Comics Fans," "From Anime Watcher to Manga Reader: Manga that will Convert Your 'Normie' Friends," Manga for Visual Novel Game Fans," "Manga for Contrarians," "Manga for Musicians," "Manga for Cat People," "Smut Manga for Classy Ladies," "Manga for Philosophy Majors," "Manga for Hopeless Romantics," "Manga for Otakus," etc.
4. From Singles to Omnibus: Lost & Found in Translation
If you're a translator, have industry-level knowledge of translation, or have great research skills and pay attention to details, then this next panel idea is for you. With so much new manga coming back into the English market, it leaves people wondering what's the difference between the old (usually) single-volume edition and omnibus editions. This is where you come in. Take a manga you enjoy that has a new translation and compare it to the old one and walk people through the changes and history of the manga's publication. I'd suggest a 100% completed and released manga for maximum impact. Examples include Maison Ikkoku by Rumiko Takahashi, WISH by Clamp, Saiyuki by Kazuya Minekura, and Shaman King by Hiroyuki Takei. (Bonus points for difficult licenses and manga that moved between publishers.)
5. Rescue Me!: Out-of-Print Manga that Deserves a Second Chance
This next one is for the "Oldtakus" or people that have been in the manga game for a while and are persuasive speakers. This idea is about "making your case" for a re-release of an old manga that is completely out-of-print and unlicensed, and I'm not talking about the manga that is now sitting in digital jail and awaiting a print release if it ever happens. (We'll address that momentarily). Examples include Wandering Son by Takako Shimura, Silver Diamond by Shiho Sugiura, Apothecarius Argentum by Tomomi Yamashita, Cantarella by You Higuri, From Eroica with Love by Yasuko Aoike, Musashi Number Nine by Miyuki Takahashi, and Swan by Kyoko Ariyoshi.
Research and make sure that the manga has a chance of coming back in print and is not stuck in licensing limbo or have other issues with the original holders (ex. see mangaka of Zatch Bell Makoto Raiku's lawsuit against Shonen Sunday/Shogakukan). Finally, don't forget the call to action in your presentation. Direct participants to take surveys, fill out forms, or make some noise on social media for a chance to get these titles back in print!
6. Manga Bingo
Everyone knows how to play bingo, and who doesn't like this game? If you're up for creating cards, handing out prizes, and leading an audience participation panel, then this idea is for you. You can conduct your game of bingo in a variety of ways, but here's the way I envision the game. I envision it as a fun way to give out random manga recs, and here's how I'd put this game together.
First, you create a list of manga. You don't have to read these titles. You just need a list that spans multiple genres, themes, and demographics. No hentai or other objectionable content unless you conduct this panel after dark and the con okays it. >:) Next, you create a simple PowerPoint slide deck/presentation of the manga you selected. The slide should contain simple information such as the name of the manga, the genre, the story, and the book cover. You can refer to the licensor's page for that information or do a general Google search. Next, you create the cards. You can use Anime Bingo (https://anime-bingo.aikats.us/) for simplicity or the free version of Canva (https://www.canva.com/) for more templates and design options. If you have graphic design skills, feel free to go nuts! When you're done, print out your cards. Don't forget the bingo chips!
Lastly, get prizes. If you're business savvy, you might be able to finagle a bulk deal or better yet, get sponsorship for your game, but if you can't, you can get low-cost and new books from Five Below and in bulk from places like RightStuf. You can also find cheap books and other goods at places like Book Off or Half-Price. Gift cards are a good and low-cost bulk option too! (Anyone, who scoffs at getting a free $5 or $10 gift card when they had to pay $0 to play, deserves to be kicked out of the Bingo Hall.) If all else fails, you can just source your prizes from the dollar store. Candy is always a good prize. To maximize your budget, you can set a tier for your prizes. In the end, people won't mind. Just have fun!
7. Manga Journaling 101 Workshop
If you're creative, like to move around, and want to lead an audience participation workshop, then this idea is for you. This idea maybe peak 2016, but I've been doodling and writing in diaries since I was a kid in the 90s so suck it. For this panel you would need some notebooks and pens at the very least. If you want to go a little beyond, you can provide scissors, glue sticks (not regular Elmer's glue or the paper will buckle), colored pencils, markers, and other crafting supplies. You can source all of this from the dollar store, and since you're running a workshop and sharing tables and space, you wouldn't need a lot of supplies. Make sure to grab a small space so you can limit the number of participants. Fill out your notebook and present a short presentation on it to get the creative juices flowing. Maybe provide samples from around the web in your presentation. Then, let participants do their thing. You can circle around and help out where needed. Now, participants will have a notebook to take notes in and a fun way to keep track of their manga!
8. Exercise with Uramichi Onii-san!/Dance with Wanda-san
Here's another workshop idea. This idea is for the up-and-at-em, perky morning people and people who are great at leading physical activities. Also, this is a bonus for people who like to cosplay. I usually see a yoga or exercise-type panel at cons, and I never go to them because they were in the morning. However, I did go to a free-for-all dance thing at one con because it was in the afternoon so this idea stems from that experience and the other missed opportunities.
Find a sports manga or a manga with a character that engages in some sort of physical activity like Uramichi from Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan by Gaku Kuze or Wanda from Wandance by Coffee and form a lesson plan/demonstration/workshop around that activity. Bonus points if you choose a manga that has no anime adaptation such as 10 Dance by Inouesatoh or Wandance. This sort of panel is a win-win for everyone. You get to evangelize your favorite manga to the people. Participants get healthy, learn a new form of exercise, dance, or sport, and will want to read a new manga. I would love to see it.
9. The Rise of Digital Manga Publishing
With the rise of e-readers and e-devices, digital manga has risen in popularity in Japan and abroad. It's time to discuss it. If you enjoy research and business, this panel idea is for you.
10. Go to Digital Jail: Do Not Go to Print & Do Not Collect $200
This idea is where you can voice your frustrations on digital-first and digital-only manga. State your case for why a manga currently languishing in "digital jail" as an e-book and/or a subscription service exclusive needs to be set free and available in print. Besides Kodansha, you can rep for manga published by VIZ and Square Enix and manga published on sites like Renta!, Coolmic, MangaPlaza, and Azuki. Just pick a few of your digital-only faves and make a killer presentation!
11. Harlequin Romance Manga
The last digital manga idea comes courtesy of Anime News Network's article on this topic. If you enjoy reading Harlequin Romance books and their manga counterparts or would like to dive deep into this topic, then this is a panel idea for you. You can discuss Harlequin Romance manga from the subsidiary Harlequin Enterprises and parent company HarperCollins as well as the brand's popularity and mainstay in Japan. (Harlequin Enterprises launched a manga magazine in Japan back in 2009!) From there, you can discuss Dark Horse's attempts to publish the manga in print in the English language market (and failed) before ending on where/how to read Harlequin Romance manga today and manga recommendations.
If I were to give this panel, I'd recommend both Harlequin Romance manga and books. Harlequin Romance manga include The Desert Rose and the Arrogant Sheikh, Injured Innocent, Intimate Enemies, Seize the Wind, and Serenade of the Pirate King. I might consider reading and matching the manga to its book counterpart, but as of right now, I've only read Harlequin books that don't have a manga counterpart so I'd have homework to do. :) Let me know if you do this!
12. Spy x Cold War: Spies, War, & Family
This one is for war history buffs, literary buffs, or people who like research and the manga Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endo. Basically, this presentation would be on Spy x Family and the real-world references to Cold War in Germany and how mangaka Tatsuya Endo plays with audience expectations in regards to the spy fiction genre and found family trope. Not really sure if there is or isn't enough to substantiate a presentation, but hey, you can see if it makes sense and works!
13. Who's Your 'Dere'?: Recommending Manga Based on Your Fave Lovesick Trope
Simple Google or Reddit searches always reveal people wanting recs for tsunderes and the other deres that exist. This panel is simply just looking up what each of these deres means, finding and reading manga with characters that present those traits, and then crafting a presentation to show off your hard work. Easy enough, right?
14. The Misadventures of Out-Of-Print Manga Hunting
Part Out-Of-Print Manga Hunting 101 Guide and part McMansion Hell, I'd present an interactive panel on the trials and tribulations of buying out-of-print (OOP) manga. I think it'd be fun. Made a whole Twitter thread about it. Check it out here.
And there you have it! 14 ideas you can try to present at the next anime con. Free of charge. If you try them out, let me know in the comments below or via Twitter @ThatMangaHunter.
Have fun and stay safe!