[Virtual Con] Anime Lockdown ’21

The world is slowly opening. As of this post, about 67% of the national population have been vaccinated for COVID. However, some people aren’t quite ready to step into the con-world. While several cons have been announced to open for 2021, there is some hesitancy to travel or to be surrounded by thousands of strangers. Enter Anime Lockdown. Anime Lockdown is a three day virtual con that took place on July 9 to July 11. The main events were broadcasted via Twitch. You could also role play as if you were at the con on their 2021 Discord channel. While this wasn’t as industry heavy as Anime Expo Lite, it did provide a ton of quality fan programming cultivating an online fan community.

Anime Lockdown really brought in the generation that grew up with Toonami. For the first time in a while, I felt that my age group (The Elder Millennials) were the majority at an anime event. Much of the programming focused on classic anime titles up to the early 00’s. The con also had notable guests such as Tatsuhiko Takimoto, Lynzee Loveridge, Helen McCarthy, among others. Panels and presentations were either broadcasted live for real time Q&A or pre-recorded with the presenters hanging out in the chat.

While I had a set list of panels I wanted to attend, I decided to tune into a few panels for background noise while I was going about my daily business (chores, sewing, etc). Even with these presentations, I was able to learn something new. Example, I only have surface level knowledge of Ultraman, but I learned why this series is so beloved by Japan that there’s an Ultraman cafe featuring the monsters serving you food. It’s very interesting to know what is in the zeitgeist of Japanese culture that I as an American doesn’t have too much knowledge of.

Anime Lockdown also had fan panels and presentations. I attended the Rose of Versailles, Shoujo Manga’s Lost Generation, and Anime Burger Time as planned. However, it was the unplanned, off the cuff, or for sheer curiosity that made my Anime Lockdown experience all the better.

Anime Lockdown had a nostalgia panel on the first 25 years of Toonami. This presentation played the greatest hits of Toonami’s history. We got to see rare clips, bumpers, commercials for early anime programming. The chat was also busting up with memories of watching Toonami and Adult Swim. I needed background noise while I was lifting weights, so I thought the Toonami panel would serve as decent background to keep me focused. While I was lifting, a lot of memories came back of watching Toonami in middle school and Adult Swim with my fellow college sober nerds when I was living the dorm life.

Anime Lockdown also had some hilarious panels! My favorite one that to be Companies that Knew Nothing About Anime Fans. This was licensing gone wrong. At the time of this writing, Anime Tube, a streaming service with sketchy intentions, was trending in the anime industry. The timing was very perfect for this panel. This panel talked about the basics of licensing an anime title from Japan. The presenter also talked about some very sketchy companies that came out during the wild west days of anime licensing. The one that takes the cake is Crimson Star Media in which the company owner used their student loans to license anime.

This con also had industry guests that provided a ton of insight. I wasn’t expecting professional development at an anime con, but here we are. I do appreciate attending lectures where I will learn something and use it in either my professional career or in this hobby of blogging about anime conventions.  Lynzee Loveridge (Anime News Network) provided an insightful take on the world of anime journalism. She talked about actual ethics in journalism and above all to be “mother fucking kind” in the process. She is known for covering some of the harder stories to have come out in the past few years, including the Vic Mignogna allegations as they were coming out.  Helen McCarthy’s presentation on anime scholarship was perhaps the most inspirational panel I have attended. She talked about writing for anime on an academic level and what it may be like to be to teach anime in higher education spaces. Much of the chat were very much engaged of how to get their work out there and read. Both Helen and Lynzee really gave me a lot of inspiration to keep blogging about fandom culture.

Tatsuhiko Takimoto of Welcome to the NHK talked about his work on the series. I tuned in as he was talking about what anime he likes best. He mentioned “Tomino anime,” or anime created by legendary Yoshiyuki Tomino (Gundam, Ideon, Brain Powered, etc) was his favorites. The interview was done completely in English. It’s a rarity for international Japanese guests to speak in a second language at an anime con. I do commend his ability to communicate to his fans. When leaving advice for his fans, Takimoto advised creatives to keep a vision of your future success in your mind and hold onto it everyday.

I also popped my head into Discord a few times during Anime Lockdown. In between panels, you also had adverts for artists selling on Etsy. You could also interact with artists and vendors on Discord. I decided to check our Buena Vista Bows because they had Disneybounding paraphernalia. With an Anime Lockdown discount, I was able to purchase a few bows for Disneybounding purposes. There were also role playing channels such as the Overpriced Hotel Bar where we were talking about hashbrowns, a cosplay channel where people were sharing their cosplays, etc. It’s a very positive space full of people who love the anime con world. I really felt connected with my people here.

Overall, I loved Anime Lockdown. This is one of my favorite virtual con in the pandemic era. I found out about Anime Lockdown at the last minute last year, and I didn’t want to miss out for 2021. Selected presentations are archived on  Anime Lockdown’s YouTube channel.  It’s uncertain if Anime Lockdown will be needed a year from now. However, post-event feedback shows that this was a valuable and accessible experience to those who can’t afford to travel of an anime con. Anime Lockdown had built a community and continues to build connections among millennial otaku.

PS: I am not Tom Aznable. I’m but one Dame Scarlet Aznable.

Written by Dame Aznable
IG: @damescarletaznable
Twitter: @dameaznable
TikTok: @damescarletaznable


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