I was on several panels, including a rather intellectually elevated one on writing academic papers on anime, during which the panel of professors frequently name-dropped Foucault and Derrida, and one on writing manga, which thank God I dragged telophase
to because otherwise I would have been the only person on the panel.
But the Panel That Will Live In Infamy was the one on Saiyuki
, which consisted of me (presumably to discuss the manga) and American dub actors Greg Ayres (Goku) and Monica Rial (lots of minor characters.) I showed up on time. The room was packed with bright-eyed Greg Ayres fans, several of them armed with video cameras. (This whole panel might be on YouTube, for all I know.)
Greg and Monica didn't show up. And didn't show up. I finally said, "I know you're all here to see Greg Ayres; I'm sure he'll be here in a moment; let's just wait a bit."
Ten or fifteen minutes past the time the panel should have started, I said, "I'm sure Greg will get here eventually, but since this is a panel about Saiyuki
, I'll start talking about it, and Greg can jump in when he arrives."
Crazed fangirls: Collective groan.
Me: "Let's have a show of fake enthusiasm!"
Crazed fangirls, who thankfully had a sense of humor: "Woo-hoo! Yay!"
I introduced myself and began to discuss the manga. Just as I was starting to get warmed up, Greg Ayres walked in. He looked about my age (32) or a bit older, a short guy with a pink face and wispy blue and green hair.
Crazed fangirls: Genuine hysteria.
Greg Ayres and I begin to discuss Saiyuki
(both of us) and tell amusing anecdotes about the life of a voice actor (him.) This went fine until I attempted to agree with him that the relationship of Goku and Sanzo was not sexual in nature by referring to Saiyuki Gaiden
, a prequel series which is licensed and scheduled, but not yet available in English.
Me: "Let me just tell you what Gaiden
is, for those of you who haven't read it in scans--"
Greg Ayres (breathing smoke): "Hold it right there. Scans are totally wrong! How dare you mention scanlations! You should never read them! They're stealing, they're evil, they're--"
Me: "Um, let me clarify. I'm not talking about reading scans instead of buying the official release. I buy the English releases of everything I read in scans. I'm just talking about reading ahead."
Greg Ayres (shooting flames from his nostrils): "It makes no difference! It's still stealing! I never do that! You should never do that! It's totally immoral! And illegal! And unethical! It destroys the livelihoods of manga creators! It's like breaking into their houses and stealing! I know of many mangaka who cannot ever be licensed in English because their work had been scanned!"
Note: I wish I'd asked him who he was talking about. It's not that I think he was lying; I just wonder if there's more to the story, as an awful lot of manga that has been scanned gets licensed anyway.
Me: "I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this. By the way, I am
a manga creator, and there's more than one side to this issue. I know of some mangaka whose work was licensed because
it had an online fanbase."
Greg Ayres: (Head explodes.)
Me: "Um... do you mind if I refer to Gaiden
? I do actually read Japanese, so I theoretically could have read it in Japanese. It's just that it's difficult and I'm lazy... Oh, wait, I forgot, it's in the anime too! We can just say we're talking about the anime!"
Greg Ayres (pointing to crazed fangirl): "You!"
Crazed fangirl: "Can I hug you?"
Greg Ayres: "Uh... after the panel."
Crazed fangirl: (Hand pops up again.)
Greg Ayres: "Yes?"
Crazed fangirl: "Can you say, 'I love you, Sanzo?' In your Goku voice?"
Greg Ayres: "I love you, Sanzo."
Entire room: "SQUEEEEE!"
The panel then continued in a less awkward manner, except for a slight hiccup when Greg Ayres mentioned watching a series that has not yet been released in English. "I don't own this!" he added hastily. "I saw it at a friend's house! And it was a legal version! We watched it in the original Japanese! Without subtitles!"
Later that day, I spotted Greg Ayres walking by, as I sat behind telophase
's table piled high with unauthorized fanart.
"Hi, Greg!" I said.
He stared at me like he had no idea who I was. As it had not occurred to me that he was seriously angry at me-- I thought we'd just had a disagreement, as reasonable people may do-- I assumed that, like I often do, he had merely failed to recognize me.
"I'm Rachel Brown!" I explained. "From the panel this morning."
A large, blinking neon sign reading, "I HATE YOU" materialized over his forehead. Shooting me a look of utter loathing, he seemed to struggle with words for a moment. Then he spat out, "You and I have very different opinions
!" And turned his back, and stomped away.
If any of you ever meet Greg Ayres, I've got some good links to illegal download sites you can pass on with my compliments.