I’ve covered a lot of conventions and I’ve attended even more panels and the Q&A panels with invited guests were unlike anything I’ve ever seen at a convention before. At every convention I’ve been too, Q&A panels with invited guests use a moderator to mediate fan to talent interaction. At IKKiCON 2018, that wasn’t the case.
During Saturday’s Pokémon Q&A panel with voice actor and English voice director of Pokémon: Sun & Moon, Lisa Ortiz, and the voice actor behind Ash and many of your favorite pokémon, Sarah Natochenny, the Renaissance Hotel ballroom was filled with poké-fans ready to ask questions. After giving the guidelines for the panel which included no recording and asking for the audience to understand that Ortiz and Natochenny didn’t represent Pokémon, just themselves, the floor was open to the crowd.
Immediately, the audience began asking questions about how it was involved with the franchise, their experiences in their careers as voice actors, and in the case of Ortiz, directing. Audience members even asked about the charity that the two started, Voices for Foster. There was no microphone in the center for people to line up and ask, instead, it was a conversation. After one fan asked a question, the guests would answer and sometimes ask for the fans opinion on the question.
Now, this did lead to fans making statements instead of asking questions, something that is traditionally frowned upon at Q&A sessions. Luckily it wasn’t a problem here. With both the audience and guests opening up and telling stories from their own experiences, the panel was a unique community experience that is something I don’t believe you’ll find in a larger convention center setting.
All that being said, the lack of mics for the audience eventually did lead to audience members deciding to form a line, walk up to the table and ask questions since the room next door featured a loud J-Pop battle and the lack of AV personnel in the ballroom made raising the volumes on the guests’ mics or fixing one for audience use an impossible request. With such a loud a room next door, it was sometimes hard to hear Ortiz or Natochenny when they were answering questions.
You would think that this would lessen the enthusiasm in the room, but it didn’t. As the conversation continued the two guests were energetic throughout and the fans in the audience were as well. It was clear that the community cared more about the genuine interaction then a little bass pumping next door.
But this accessibility to the special guests wasn’t limited to the informal panel. IKKiCON also provided multiple opportunities for fan interaction with the pair as well as the other guests in attendance. In addition to dedicated Q&A, the guests had autograph signings, panels specifically on their work, and even a Slice of Life panel in which they discussed their lives outside their anime works.
If you’re looking for a unique and genuine interaction with some of your favorite anime talent, IKKiCON is a place for you.