Within the con circuit

My first experience working with panels was in 2016 while gofering for the big anime con in my city. I checked in panelists in my assigned room, observed and evaluated their panels, and fixed technical issues. I joined the con’s year-round team in Spring 2018 and became panel coordinator in Fall 2018.

After the Summer 2019 con, it was time to leave the year-round team and make my next move: run my own panels!

Because of my past background, I can see panels from a staffer’s perspective. I understand how conventions pick panels including how they see specific types of panels, how panel moderators evaluate my performance and factor it in during future intakes, and how to make the most out of (while not stressing) my panel coordinator. Knowing those concepts help with pitching and delivery, as it helps me show value in my work (be it to the attendees or to my coordinator).

While I don’t know everything about anime fan wants, I do also understand a want for edutaining panels. I attempt to deliver on that want by using video clips, trivia, jokes, and personal anecdotes to engage the audience and ensuring that:

  1. The panel is enjoyable yet educational for those new to the subject matter.
  2. The veterans gain a new perspective on concepts they’re familiar with.

"[Otaku’s Guide to] Donghua. Little did the presenter know, I was doing market research!!" - Mike Toole when prompted about some of the best Otakon 2022 fan panels he saw.

"A newcomer panel, an Otaku’s Guide to Donghua, was a pleasant surprise. While there were some technical difficulties [involving a missing script], the panelist was knowledgeable and entertaining." - an r/Otakon user when prompted about “exceptional or fun” panels at Otakon 2022.

"Anime in The Philippines - This was a well-researched panel that taught me lots about the Philippines in general. I’m very interested in the ways that different shows and movie gain popularity differently in different places, and this panel was thorough and informative while having some nice moments of absurdity and humor" - an Otakon Board user when prompted about the very best panels he saw at Otakon 2023.

"I do want to give a shout-out to Anime in the Philippines, as it definitely taught me new things, and gave a window into a culture and fandom that I was largely unfamiliar with." - Ogiue Maniax on the panels he saw in part during Otakon 2023.

"This was an amazing panel. I hope Mich does this panel more at conventions. Because I would still sit in even though I attended this panel before…I think it’s interesting to hear how anime was dealt with in different countries. So I was glad to have checked this out." - Eri (of Scarlet Rhapsody) on attending Anime in the Philippines at Sakura-Con 2024.

Tools of the trade:

  • Presentation software - Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Video presentation software - 4K Video Downloader, OBS, and ClipChamp
  • Subtitles - Aegisub and Handbrake
  • Graphic design - Figma (title cards and closing bumpers) and Waifu2x
  • Research + Ideation - Notion (previously used OneNote)
  • Panel-running device - Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (256 GB)
  • Website updates - GitHub and Visual Studio Code (no extensions at this time)

…and out of it

  • I studied software development and currently work as a (junior) full-stack software developer, with goals of both becoming an intermediate back-end developer and netting the respective AWS associate Solutions Architect and Developer certifications. While my website isn’t hosted on AWS (overkill!), having this background is a big help in designing, developing, and maintaining this website, as I have complete control over the site’s looks and functionality without paying extra to (say) Wordpress. You can check this site’s code here.
  • I love food, be it cooking, baking, trying out new places (…and writing about some of those places). Check out my favourite food spots here!
  • My native language is English, so you’ll hear me speak with a Western Canadian accent. I’m also currently learning German thanks to (my now-buddy) Dave Merrill making this guy a character in his New Year’s Eve 2021 Anime Hell online clip show. If I’m going to let Dave make that guy live rent-free in my head, I might as well pick up the language and understand the corresponding culture. (I mention the guy to Germans while explaining why I’m learning the language. Their faces are priceless.)
    • I’m also afraid to say that I am a fast talker in some situations (…and in both English and German). Still working on pacing my speed, however!
  • I don’t drink alcohol, although:
    • I don’t mind having it in my food (such as sake in teriyaki salmon or red wine in some beef bourguignon).
    • I drink copious amounts of tea, with the occasional craft soda.
  • I can speed read, and it’s why I prefer reading manga (and to a greater extent, manhwa and webtoons) compared to watching anime.