As you may or may not be aware, my local anime convention, Anime Boston, was held over the weekend in well, Boston. Of course I say “local”, but AB is actually one of the largest anime cons on the East Coast, which draws people from all over the country(and even out of the country). Last year saw over 25000 attendees, and I would not be surprised if the number was even larger this year. This was my fifth year going to the con since 2009, and this was definitely one of the better years, for a bunch of reasons.
Last year, after the tragic events at the 2013 Boston Marathon, Anime Boston had significantly stepped up security, and implemented mandatory bag checks at the con entrance. While perfectly understandable, this did result in a lot of congestion and long lines. But credit where it’s due, the AB staff had the system down pretty much to clockwork this year. That along with some general congestion-reducing measures across the con resulted in a much smoother con experience than the massive amount of attendees would suggest. I was genuinely impressed with efficiency and professionalism of the con staff this year. Hats off to them, those guys work really hard to make sure everyone can have a good time.
But it wasn’t just the logistical behind-the-scenes stuff that made the con great this year. My actual con experience was a whole lotta fun too. Being the crusty old fossil that I am, most of my still-functional adult relationships have moved past the anime con scene and I’d been going by myself for the last few years. So big thanks to fellow anitwitterers, redditors and generally cool Internet People, ClearAndSweet, BlueMage23 and Novasylum(whose blog you can check out here) for coming to hang out with me!
One of the reasons I love Anime Boston is because it’s stupid-easy for to get to the convention. Not just because I live locally, but I mean actually just getting to the Hynes. Anyone who’s even remotely familiar with the city of Boston knows it’s rather infamous for two things: systems of one-way streets built from old labyrinthine horse trails, and a generally nightmarish parking situation. While I can’t do much about the former, I thankfully have a serendipitous solution to the latter. As luck would have it, my mother works in the Copley Place offices, which is literally across the street from the Hynes convention center. So I just borrow her parking spot for the weekend. No muss, no fuss, and totally free parking just a stone’s throw from the con for the whole weekend. It also means I don’t have to drop money on a hotel room, which means more to spend at the con. It’s a pretty fantastic deal.
Speaking of spending money, one of the things I look forward to the most at Anime Boston is the Artist’s Alley. Where various artists, writers and craftsmen set up shop to sell everything from fanart prints to self-published comic books. In other words, not the kind of mass-produced stuff you can buy on Amazon or Rightstuf. I think it’s really cool to have an opportunity to meet and support talented fans. Here’s some of the stuff I picked up this year.
The other things I look forward to each year are the live concerts and the AMV Contest. This year’s live performer was J-Rock starlet LiSA, who is probably best known for singing the first SAO OP, and as the voice of Girls Dead Monster in Angel Beats. Both of which she performed at the concert. Sadly, she didn’t sing the new UBW rendition of This Illusion. Also my seat kind of sucked, so I didn’t have the best view of the stage. She was really cool though, and had easily the best English of any performer I’ve seen at AB. So it was cool for her to actually be able to interact with the fans a little bit. When I saw Kanako Itou in 2012, her English was pretty much unintelligible. Which was kind of adorable in its own way, but made responding to her really awkward for the audience.
As for the AMV contest, it was easily one of the best I’ve seen. This years crop of finalists was fucking stacked. Just check some of them out for yourself(Thanks to BlueMage for putting this together). I don’t think anything I voted for actually won, but that’s not really why I go. “Running Ink”, “Throwback”, “Heart-Shaped Hole”, and “Reiterate Things” were the ones I voted for, in case you were wondering.
I also went to some cool panels. Including Mike Toole’s “Anime’s Secret Masters”, a fascinating panel about some of the oft-overlooked and forgotten innovators that shaped anime into what it is today; And an Utena panel hosted by the guys over at Geek Nights, whose video series analyzing Utena is absolutely worth the substantial time investment to watch it.
Overall it was a pretty exciting, albeit totally exhausting weekend. I think wandering around Anime Boston may be the most exercise I get all year. My legs were jelly come Sunday, but it was worth it. I had a blast hanging out with everyone, and hope I get to meet more people next year!
Anyways, picture time! I actually forgot my camera day one, but here’s some of my favorites from Saturday: