For those of you who are unfamiliar with “Anime Conventions”; I must tell you since the mid two-thousands this has been the growing rage of annual outings for those of us part of the ‘learned’ millennial generation who may or may not think of ourselves as ‘nerds’ and ‘geeks; because as of 2010 anyone who back in the nineties who was perceptibly a ‘nerd’ is now a ‘hipster’ of sorts. Be there as it may, at your average anime convention other then the endless array of streaming new anime’s fresh from Japan, old favorites, East Asian Music room, CosPlay Contests (Where one dresses up as one’s favorite anime character), Anime Idol (You guessed it a contest for non-professional singer’s to show their vocal chops to their chosen theme song of a Japanese Anime), there are educational focus panels. This year at A-Kon, that has been hosted in Dallas for the last 27 years. A-Kon is the oldest Anime Convention in the United States. I had the pleasure of learning about a drastic array of anime related subjects from ‘The History of Ninja’s” to “How to Make and Market your own Comic Books”; as interesting as these focus panels, which are usually my primary focus; the focus panel that stuck out the most to be was Amanda .Actually’s “Character Development” focus panel. “Amanda.Actually” is a blogger, writer, and social media manager from San Antonio, Texas who is in her mid-twenties and is awesomely eloquent.
I had the pleasure of sitting in on a couple of Amanda.Actually’s focus panels at Anime Fest here in Dallas as well last year; however as impressive and informative as those panels where in the past; Amanda is a star persona who doesn’t become complacent in stagnation and engagingly ups her game and packs a full house.
In order to secure a seat, I hung around the designated conference room on the second floor of the Anatole Hotel where her panel was being held that evening according to the schedule and secured a seat at the front, which of course each and every seat was filled moments after I had sat down.
The only thing lacking from this experience was the applause and camera flash that should’ve ensued as Amanda.Actually and her staff began to arrange their equipment.
After a brief and humorous introduction to the “Character Development” focus panels for us aspiring, or in my case still learning and solidifying authors; Amanda.Actually assured us that she in fact an expert, clicked through the Power Point presentation verifying her credentials that she in fact really is an expert, having been the President of the Anime Club in High School and in College, has a stellar degree from an accredited University (St. Mary’s University), and did not go to some “fly by night school”, which gathered a roar of laughter, as in these parts “fly by night school’s” are vapidly spreading like disease. After a few more laughs and adjustments, Amanda easily told us all and everything that was wrong with our Authorship that was hindering us from being best selling authors, or at least noticed authors.
In literature a story about a “man” is different then a story about a “woman”; protagonist, antagonist, the dark horse etc; with Manga/Anime Character’s for reference from Kikyo from Inuyasha to Orihime from Bleach (As Kikyo would be the ‘dark horse’ to Kagome, who like Orihime is a damsel in distress waiting to be saved by some guy, Inuyasha, Ichigo etc). She enlightened us to the pentameter of what is acceptable as ‘good writing’ that makes a viable emotional connection with the reader. I wont give too much away as you’ve got to hear her panels for yourself to find out where you went wrong, as me myself as a musician I’ve always taken an “alternative approach” to such, such as telling the story of a woman in the way a story about a “man” should play out, something that she emphasized that we should “do away with the damsel” in distress. She made a viable confession stating that she didn’t right away appreciate “female characters” because not only are they occasionally one dimensional weaklings who need saving, they become down right ‘annoying’; however she’s since come around to appreciate those female characters for what they are, and how they respect what is known to be ‘good authorship’. She then moved to ask quite a bold question along the lines of “Just because a woman gets in a relationship with a man, that does not mean that life has to end.” She probed for acceptance, if my memory serves me well; a woman leaped to her feet, huffed with furry, folded her arms and stormed out of the door. “Please come back, or... not?” Amanda.Actually rhetorically pleaded to a roar of laughter. Instead of crying over spilled milk, she continued enchanting her full house; she robustly cheered on her favorite dark horses from Naruto such as Sasuke, and what a classic “Wolf’s Rain” is; and how she is from the “Golden Era of Anime” (Mid Two-Thousands; Inuyasha, Bleach, Naruto, Full Metal Alchemist, etc).
With our mouths hanging agape, leaving us questioning our educational backgrounds, she probed for questions. A drastically moving moment was from a disabled young girl in her tweens who asked from her perspective as a minority woman in America (in this case a Black Woman), what where her innate feelings of such. Of which Amanda coolly assured her that that despite what people interpret to being ‘cultural abandonment’ and ‘stereotypes’ that she was in fact like myself from a upper-middle class upbringing and stereotypes where as foreign to her as anyone else in the room who wasn’t from a disadvantaged background and had enjoyed the privileges of growing up in the first world; the color of her skin does not define her, it makes her who she is. A statement like that was followed by a roar of applause, if we where in a larger room or when Amanda.Actually finally does ‘Ted Talks’ that would totally lead to a standing ovation.
Questions from her fans, which of course where so endless they followed her out into the hallway, where of course I had to ask for a picture, last. If you’re to stop by any of the Anime Conventions in the United States, particularly A-Kon or A-Fest; do stop by any focus panel that Amanda.Actually and her team are giving if you don’t stop by anything else. Prepared to be wowed; I do warn that this focus panel is PG-13 and may not be suitable for young children due to mild language. Amanda.Actually is an engaging public speaker, whose charm is infectious. Her focus panels; also under the pseudonym AichiYume will have you searching any anime convention’s schedule for her next public appearance. I rate her panel 5/5 stars.
You can visit Amanda.Actually’s Official Blog at:
And please, please, please; follow her on Twitter