C2E2 2020 Friday Panel Catchup

Contributing Authors: Aaron Cynic, Antal Bokor, Julian Ramirez and Pearl Shin.    Our team of nerdy writers and photographers have an extremely good work ethic, and as soon as doors opened on the 11th annual C2E2, they were off to the races, taking in everything available to congoers on the floor and in the panel rooms. Friday's panels were full of amazing things to learn, great ideas on how to amplify the right voices, and thoughts on how to encourage diversity and fight fascism while also teaching people more about the things they love, whether that's wrestling, anime, Star Trek or D&D (among many, many other things) Improvised Jane Austen @ C2E2 2020. In the Cards Against Humanity Theater, we were on hand for a show with locals Improvised Jane Austen. We originally saw them at the Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival, and found their comedic timing impeccable enough to overcome even a prejudice against the source material. The same could easily be said today, with the cast creating a lively, silly atmosphere just perfect for the beginning of a convention weekend. C2E2 2020, Friday @McCormick Place. Photo: Marielle Bokor From there, we checked in to Queering Comics, where we found one of the strongest senses of community at the con. Both panelists and attendees were thoughtful, respectful and insightful, as they discussed how they felt as young comic fans looking for representation, and with panelists giving a great backing timeline of the evolution of LGBTQIA+ comics from the underground scene that developed as a result of underrepresentation and problematic guidelines, and touched on community struggles, including being tokenized and having to struggle to get a seat at the table alongside other creators, and the importance of using your voice to amplify the message of other creators in the space. C2E2 2020, Friday @McCormick Place. Photo: Marielle Bokor
C2E2 has a huge Star Trek presence this year, as you undoubtedly noticed. Walter Koenig, Star Trek's Pavel Chekov, and a Chicago native, had a lot to say about his roles on Star Trek, Babylon 5, and his upcoming autobiography. Koenig has been a mainstay in the Star Trek fandom for about fifty years now, and he says it's been easy--the fans "want to like you," but it hasn't made him any less gracious.
Like many of his peers, Koenig praised the ideals of Star Trek, saying they very much matched his own even before he landed the role, and reminding fans just how important diversity was, as well as the need to work together regardless of background, race or religion, especially in these turbulent times.
On Star Trek vs. Babylon 5, Koenig likened his position on Star Trek as more of a set piece, while he had a character with substance that impacted the story on Babylon 5, who was also better treated behind-the-scenes. Check out his book when it releases in May, titled Beaming Up and Getting Off--it's an update of his previous memoir, written twenty years later.
C2E2 2020, Friday @McCormick Place. Photo: Julian Ramirez
Meanwhile, in a nearby panel room, the topic was Japanese Mythology.
The Japanese mythology panel was a dense overview of its subject, really getting as much as they could out of their allotted time. Starting off with the religious aspects of Japanese culture before diving into the colorful mythology, Nerds Know truly showed their passion and knowledge of the subject, constantly showing examples of even the most minor references in pop culture.
Well known stories like Journey to the West and The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter go their due, but there were times where the one hour slot cut things short. While I definitely think the panel would have benefited from more details on the folklore and mythology than their modern takes (seriously Yuigioh is an insane mishmash of Japanese myths) the presentation played to the crowd full of die hard anime fans and cosplayers
C2E2 2020, Friday @McCormick Place. Photo: Pearl Shin
Anime fans were in for another fun romp in the Live Action Anime Cringefest. Live Action Anime Cringefest was an hour full of shared laughter, groans, and secondhand embarrassment. Presented by Nerds Know, an entertainment panel group from South Florida, the panel showcased the bad and the so bad that it might kiiiiinda good gems of anime live action adaptations attempted by the West and elsewhere. Live action fails of the past were explored and movie trailers shared, including ones for films like the 1993 Super Smash Bros., Team Angel (North America’s attempt to remake Sailor Moon), and G-Saviour (Canada’s live action film for Gundam which was 20 minutes of Gundam, 70 minutes of nonsense, and unfortunately, a whole 90 minutes of in-canon content).
The panel also made sure to highlight modern-day misses like Dragon Ball: Evolution, a movie so, SO bad that bootleg versions of the franchise fared better than Hollywood’s own, Netflix’s sad attempt at recreating Death Note, and the infamous M. Night Shyamalan masterpiece, The Last Airbender. The panel ended with a “Next to the Grave” list of upcoming anime live actions in the making, including Naruto, Akira, Cowboy Bebop, and Voltron. The panel ended with the speaker posing a thought, that maybe some ideas are meant to stay as just that - ideas.
C2E2 2020, Friday @McCormick Place. Photo: Julian Ramirez
Also on site was a large presence from the AEW. All Elite Wrestling has been lighting up Wednesday nights with their weekly wrestling show Dynamite on TNT and the turn out to their Main Stage panel truly shows just how far they've come. The group got its start right here in Illinois after a now notorious tweet doubled the draw of an indie show to become a 10000 seat show. All In, which took place in Rosemont, did just that and was the spark that eventually lead to AEW become a full fledged wrestling promotion. The panel featured broadcaster extraordinaire Excalibur, revolutionary tag team Nick and Matt Jackson, and the incomparable Cody Rhodes. These four mainstays eschewed kayfabe (the wrestling world reality) for a more honest conversation, joking about how matches are booked, backstage antics like AEW owner Tony Kahn's candy eating habits, Chuck Taylor's huge desire to say the s-word (shit) on TNT, and just generally delighting in their new found success. RWBY@C2E2 2020. Photo: Marielle Bokor Also delighting in their success and their avid fan base was the cast of RWBY. It's always a treat when the Rooster Teeth gang make their way to Chicago and especially when it's the RWBY crew. The fun web show follows Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang through their journey in the world of Remnant takes all the best cues from anime and has been delivering a great experience from the get go. While the Texas based studio may have had some down moments the past year, in their animation department especially, but guests were able to ask Barbara Dunkleman, Kara Eberle, Arryn Zech, and Miles Luna some fun questions in the Q&A heavy panel.
While there were plenty of fun moments, the four AEW stars kept the surprises to a minimum. Things that most fans already know were re-solidified from the work on the upcoming video game using the old school engine to AEW Dynamite putting on shows in the UK (definitely) and Canada (hopefully).  The biggest take away from the situation was just how much fun they're having with All Ellie Wrestling and they're push to give fans what they want.
George Takei @C2E2 2020. Photo: Aaron Cynic
Another big hit on the Main Stage was Star Trek's George Takei, also sometimes known as the internet's favorite uncle.
George Takei took the main stage to a standing ovation, and opened up his remarks with a signature “Oh my!” The Star Trek legend delighted the packed room with a powerful and reflective look at 54 years of the franchise, the friendships its built, and the message it continues to deliver.

“You gave us a special gift of association with this extraordinary show which today is still going strong,” said Takei. “A franchise 54 years old and still adding new children.”

Takei talked about the origins of the show and its relation to the turbulence of the 1960’s, and drew parallels between the struggles like the civil rights movement and the movement to end the Vietnam War and the current struggles people face today.

George Takei @ C2E2 2020. Photo: Marielle Bokor

“Star Trek came on with the message of hope for the future,” Takei told the crowd. “It’s said the Starship Enterprise was a metaphor for starship Earth, and the strength of the starship lay in its diversity all the different parts coming together and working as a team. That was the strength of the Starship Enterprise. It was an important message at a time like that.”

Takei has been both an actor and an activist throughout his storied career, and there’s always been an inexorable link between the Star Trek franchise and social justice. Takei, who was imprisoned in an internment camp with his family as a child during World War II, discussed his role in the musical Allegiance, which is based on his own experiences and research. Takei also talked about the long standing relationships he’s maintained with his fellow cast members, particularly the late Leonard Nimoy, who passed away five years ago Thursday.

“The wonderful thing about Star Trek is that these work colleagues became lifelong friends and literally for their entire lives--some of my colleagues have been my friends,” said Takei.

George Takei @ C2E2 2020. Photo: Marielle Bokor

Calling him his “political soulmate,” Takei said that he and the actor who played Spock often discussed politics, and told a story about how even though he was extremely ill, Nimoy came out to support Takei for a documentary about his marriage. Takei also memorialized other Trek actors who have passed.

“The passage of time is full of wonderful memories but at the same time there’s loss,” he said. “But they’ve left a great legacy and we’re very grateful for that. And I’m very grateful to all of you.”

Takei also celebrated the franchise’s fan base, which now spans generations.

“Star Trek fans are like tribbles - they reproduce themselves over and over again and many you are the next generation, and the next generation is bringing your own little tribbles here,” he said.  Closing out his remarks before a Q&A session with audience members, Takei dropped what seemed to be a hopeful hint about the possibility of future Trek projects. “Star Trek is always hopeful and I share that hope,” he said. “Who knows, there might be another Star Trek film with other interesting cameo roles.

Later in the evening, Chicago’s largest anime club AnimeChicago, gave a rundown of how to navigate the Windy City’s anime scene. The panelists shared the organization’s five goals: to watch anime, celebrate fandom, shop local, explore cuisine, and to experience Japanese culture in Chicago. In addition to obvious ways to stay connected with the community, like through social media or streaming shows on platforms such as Hulu, Netflix, Crunchyroll, and VRV, the speakers also shared how people can get involved in other ways. They recommended going to screenings of new or popular films, such as Promare, Your Name, and Tokyo Godfathers, at venues like the Music Box Theatre and attending local conventions, such as established ones like Anime Central or up and coming ones like Anime Magic. They also suggested looking into joining local anime clubs and exploring restaurants around the city like Kizuki Ramen, which hosts their own occasional anime viewing nights. With 1,902 members and counting, the organization hopes to continue sharing the hidden gems of the Chicago anime scene and help the community grow in number.

All told, Friday's panel lineup was amazing, and we're surprised we even got out on the floor to catch all the amazing cosplay along with it. Look out for us on the floor and in the panel rooms today, and in case you missed it, here's a link to our cosplay gallery from Friday at C2E2 2020.

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Marielle Bokor