All Five of My Anime Boston Panels have been Waitlisted

Late last night I got the bulk email from Anime Boston’s Director of Programming and Panels Lou Arruda letting me know all of my panel submissions have been waitlisted. At this stage Lou is trying to slot in all of the Guests of Honor before moving on to General Panels. There’s a full month before the con left but the final schedule is usually set by the week before the con.

I’m confident my chances of getting some of my panels accepted are good. As of this writing only my Ace Attorney and Clannad Panels are good to go. Due to a number of distractions during the past week I failed to get any prepwork done on my Persona 4 and Tales of Symphonia panels. Even though I said five panels I have requested my Fire Emblem application be withdrawn so that I can focus on getting my Persona 4 and Tales of Symphonia panels ready.

Already, I know what panels I’m going to do next year. As of this week you can expect to see these panels at Anime Boston 2015:

  • Clannad and Persona 4: Hearts of Courage (90 Minutes): I’m going to combine both panels into one super panel due to the overlapping themes. Should be interesting with the dueling contrasts ^_^
  • 20 Years of Pokemon: Give us an MMO Already! (2 Hours): It’s arguably the most biggest Video Game franchise ever. The massively fun plans I have in mind for this one…whew. I’m expecting alot of folks to try to do a Pokemon panel next year especially so I’ll really be crossing my fingers on this one. It will also be the first panel I do that’s actually two hours long. It’s Pokemon we’re talking about so filling two hours won’t be too hard: I’ve set aside 60 minutes for trading and battling in two 30 minute blocks. Bring your own 3DS or two!
  • Panels: Best Practices (60 Minutes): I’m going to host an open mic session where those who have run panels either at Anime Boston or at other conventions can share best practices.

That’s it.

The main event next year will be Pokemon just like this year is Tales of Symphonia. Should be fun. When I know which of my panels have been accepted/rejected I will announce it here first!

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Neon Alley Going “Free”, Extending Content to Hulu Plus Users

I opened my Inbox to find this email from Neon Alley:

In case you missed it . . . 

We wanted to email our members directly about our exciting announcement from earlier today:
On April 1st, we are taking a BOLD new step into the future of Neon Alley!

 

From day one, our mission has been to bring you, the fans of dubbed anime, an awesome and legal way to get the best and latest dubs while exposing you to great series you may never have seen before.  From the latest episodes of Naruto Shippuden to new series that have debuted on Neon Alley, like Tiger & Bunny and Zetman, we’ve worked hard to get you the latest and greatest.  

 
 
       
And now, that mission will continue with one major change  

IT WILL BE FREE!

U.S. fans will be able to catch a wide variety of brand new subtitled, simulcast, and premiere dubbed anime, as well as classic content distributed and/or licensed by VIZ Media, for FREE at www.NeonAlley.com. The site will also become the new home for all FREE streaming anime content previously available on VIZAnime.com, including first-run subtitled simulcasts for hit series such as Naruto Shippuden.

 
 
       
But wait. . . there’s more!

The number one request we have had from you, our members, is to expand Neon Alley’s availability to even more devices.  Now, with a subscription to Hulu Plus, you will be able to access  Neon Alley across the widest array of devices EVER including PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii, Roku, Chromecast, and a multitude of additional mobile devices that already support the Hulu Plus App.  (Canadian members- just sit tight! We will release additional news on Neon Alley availability for Canadian users in the near future.)

 

Members who have already pre-paid for subscriptions extending beyond March 31, 2014, you will be contacted during the month of February so that we can issue you a refund for the portion of your membership which would occur after we make the transition to being free!  We have also updated our FAQ section on NeonAlley.com to answer some refund and transition related questions.  

 
       
As a BONUS to our loyal customers 

… currently paying members will be receiving 2 FREE MONTHS of Hulu Plus so you can try the service and see how awesome it will be to have access to Neon Alley virtually EVERYWHERE.  Details of how to get the free 2 month trial will be sent to you prior to April 1st.    

 

Keep an eye out for more from Neon Alley right here in your in-box because our weekly newsletter will remain the place for all the latest news for both the remainder of the current season (with GREAT new episodes of your favorite series still debuting every week!)

 

From,

Your Pals At Neon Alley

Sounds great and all, right? Well I had some questions that were not answered in the email so I took a look at the Transiton FAQ referenced in the email. This was the one that caught my attention:

 

Will NeonAlley.com be the ONLY way to watch now? What about gaming consoles?

Actually, now you will be able to access Neon Alley content not only on the PS3 and XBOX 360 gaming consoles, but on PS4, XBOX One, Wii, Roku, Chromecast, and a number of mobile phones and tablets by using the Hulu Plus App! Starting April 1, anyone in the U.S. who comes to NeonAlley.com to sign up for their free Hulu Plus trial will get 2 free weeks instead of the standard 7 day Hulu Plus trial! (See “So now I can watch Neon Alley on more than just my PS3, XBOX 360 and computer?” below for more details.).
I saw this for what it really was Neon Alley inked a deal with Hulu to host content via their streaming service Hulu Plus. It’s a business move, I get it but as I said in the very pointed email I sent to Neon Alley a few minutes ago (see below), this is a slap in the face for those who only wanted to be able to legally watch and stream dubbed Anim using a dedicated provider.
Don’t think so? Here’s the other part referenced above:

So now I can watch Neon Alley on more than just my PS3, XBOX 360 and computer?

YES! Starting April 1, 2014, a membership to Hulu Plus will enable you to watch all of the Neon Alley content anywhere the Hulu Plus app is available including PS4, XBOX One, Wii, Roku, Chromecast, and on many iOS and Android devices! While NeonAlley.com will remain your central hub for all things Neon Alley, including access to all of the videos, Hulu Plus will allow you to watch from virtually anywhere. For a complete list of platforms currently supporting Hulu Plus please visit http://www.hulu.com/plus/devices. Once inside the Hulu Plus app, just search for your favorite Neon Alley series! Starting April 1, anyone in the U.S. who comes to NeonAlley.com to sign up for their free Hulu Plus trial will get 2 free weeks instead of the standard 7 day Hulu Plus trial!
Translation: If you want to access Neon Alley content on a PS3/Xbox 360 or other device you’ll need to get Hulu Plus. Since Viz Media owns the rights to some of the Anime still being offered via Netflix their streaming library will shrink even more come April 1 (hence the deadline). Even though I have an active Netflix account myself I don’t really care about that detail at this point.
What I don’t like is prettymuch being forced to get Hulu Plus if I wanna continue  to stream dubbed Anime on Demand outside Netflix. I’ve bought Anime on my PS3 and Xbox 360 of course but those are mostly Anime I already saw for the first time either on Adult Swim/Toonami/Cartoon Network, Netflix or more recently Neon Alley and Crunchyroll. This is the email I sent to Neon Alley a short time ago:
I feel like I’m being forced to switch to Hulu Plus with today’s announcement.

The way it was worded in the Transition FAQ, Hulu Plus will take over streaming everything handled by the Neon Alley App for the Xbox 360/PS3 through the announced Neon Alley Channel. That’s not “free”, it costs more than Neon Alley Premium and for those of us who decided to use Neon Alley becayse we considererd it a better, legal Anime focused streaming service compared to Hulu Plus and Netflix, this is slap in the face.

I know I’m not the only one who is very angry about this detail (or will be when they find out) being glossed over and I hope I’m not the only one who tells you about it. I’ve used Hulu Plus in the past and it’s been the worst when it comes to Anime-related content. I want to say Netflix is worse but at least with Netflix you get full seasons and not trailers or video clips for upcoming/aired episodes veiled as full episodes.

I would prefer continuing to pay the existing subscription fee to continue using the Neon Alley App on my Xbox 360 and PS3 vs. “free” NA on a PAID service you’re subcontracting to host content. It would also be cool if you make an App for the Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita.

 

I took a peek at Neon Alley’s Facebook page just now and as I thought, ALOT of people are very angry about the news. It’s probably in vain but I can only hope Neon Alley takes the negative feedback to heart and at the very least continues support of the Neon Alley App.

A Decade Later, Naruto is still going strong (Anime and Manga)

There are only a handful of Anime that can claim huge success in both profit and popularity on both sides of the Pacific. Naruto is one of two Anime–the other being Dragonball Z–that has captivated two generations of fans though for slightly different reasons. In Dragonball Z’s case it was because so much emphasis was placed on marketing the Anime first and marketing everything else second. I’ll give DBZ it’s due in a separate blog post though. In the case of Naruto, it’s because of how they handed the Anime/Manga split.

Contrary to a popular belief I’ve seen floating around the internet, the decision to split the Anime brand in two as Naruto and Naruto Shippuden had nothing to do with the fact Naruto Shippuden was being aired on Disney XD (and now Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim Saturday nights). At the time, the Manga had long since closed the door on Naruto as a preteen and introduced him as an older, (slightly) more focused teenage ninja. The spine for the Manga changes from White to Black to show the transition from Young Naruto to Teen Naruto.

Anyway, the series is still in progress and shows no signs of slowing down. For those who never watched Naruto and/or read the Manga or haven’t been keeping track in a while: Get a Crunchyroll account and get caught up. New Members can sign up for Premium all access for free for two weeks. Another reason to get Crunchyroll specifically is new episodes are made available the same day they air in Japan. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Anywho, yeah. Things have certainly become interesting in the series. The Manga and Amime are both written simulataneously and unlike Bleach there’s no filler Arcs in the Naruto Anime. There’s been some flashback episodes airing throughout Shippuden but the way it’s done it doesn’t feel like filler and instead feels like it adds more depth to the existing storyline, characters or new characters introduced.

One such flashback double episode I ended up renewing my Crunchyroll Premium status for last month was The Birth of Naruto:

It’s also chronicled in Volume 53 of the Manga, which I got three weeks ago. The double episode that reveals Kushina Uzumaki’s early life and the tragedy that befell her and her husband 4th Hokage Minato Namikaze on the day Naruto was born made his parents instant fan favorites. In hindsight, references to Minato and Kushina have been in plain sight from the beginning. The most obvious one is Naruto’s clothes: Naruto’s clothes are orange. His mother’s Red hair and aggressive temperment were what she was most known for while his father’s hair is yellow and was known for his speed.

Since the Manga and TV series are both still in syndication the brand will keep going strong. When it finally does ends, it will join Dragonball Z as one of the most iconic Anime and Manga of all time. Although the main focus is Naruto there is a stable of supporting cast that have been allowed to shine and build huge fanbases all over the world: Sausuke Uchiha, Sakura Haruno, Kakashi Hatake, Sai, Gaara, Yamato and so on.

To be transparent, I HATED the fandom until I saw Episodes 247 and 248 of Naruto Shuppuden and read Volume 53. I thought the series was ok at the most but honestly didn’t get the rabid fan boy/girl -ism I saw that came with the most…enthusiastic fans of the series. I’ve come to appreciate the fans a bit more but don’t go expecting me to cosplay as a favorite character at Anime Boston!

Watching the series evolve over the last decade certainly has been fun. Unlike DBZ you’re not being smothered with a new game every two years and unlike Bleach the fillers are few and far inbetween. Shippers are chomping at the bit to see what’s in store for Naruto, Sausuke and Sakura in particular. They’re usually shipped as Sakura with Naruto or Sausuke though Sakura/Sausuke has been the most popular from the very beginning.