So it Begins: Anime Boston
Anime Boston took place this year from April 2rd to April 4th at the beautiful Hynes Convention Center. As a first time attendee of a major East coast anime convention, I was very excited to see what there was in store. My previous experiences were mainly with major West coast anime conventions such as Fanimecon and Anime Expo, with the exception of Anime Iowa, so it was an opportunity for me to not only incorporate myself into a new group of people of the fandom but also gain a better understanding of the different types of anime fans that stretched across the country. As with every convention report, I want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the staffs and volunteers who make Anime Boston happen. Without their efforts, these conventions would cease to exist but more about this will be covered near the end of the report. For now though, on with the show!
Registration is a very frustrating thing especially if one failed to pre-register or in my case, not pre-registering and arriving close to noon due to an exam early in the morning. Fortunately despite the fact that I was backed up all the way to the second floor, I claimed my badge on the 1st floor in just a short hour of wait. Part of this was due to the abundance of registration booths and the other due to the professionalism of the staff members who directed people accordingly and kept people organized through crowds of convention and non-convention goers. Pre-registration also had a line of its own and was moving even more efficiently as a result of a barcode scanning badge system. Overall, registration was smooth, well planned and professionally organized.
Artist Alley at Anime Boston took place on the third floor in Ballroom B and C where dozens of aspiring artist traveled from across the country to share their works with their fellow anime fans. Overall, I saw plenty of originality in what was presented. In fact, I actually enjoyed what I saw to the point where I spent more money that day there than in the dealers room. That said however, I would like to see a little more art work relating to actual anime in the direction of things that are a bit newer and niched. For example though there were plenty of popular US anime art works such as Bleach and Naruto, I would like to see artists cater to the fans who were also in tuned with the newer anime titles out in Japan. Nevertheless, I was still very impressed with what I saw at the artist alley and I hope to return next year to see an even grander presentation. Keep up the good work artists!
In Exhibition Hall A and B was the dealers room and it was anything but small with close to 100 dealers who came from close and far away. Even in this horrible economy where the dollar is weak and fragile, dealers still strive to bring us things we love through the stress of dealing with costly imports. I saw plenty of diverse items ranging from Touhou to K-on on top of merchandise for the general and more casual anime fans. In other words, I liked how the dealers provided a full spectrum of merchandise for the broad range of people. With the dealers themselves, they were very hospitable and courteous. One dealer called me out as I walked passed his booth and offered me a bag when he saw me carrying a figure with my hands while another dealer, coming all the way from Kansas, sparked a conversation with me as I commended their effort and dedication with opening an anime store with all the risks attached.
In the dealers room were also big name anime and video game industries such as FUNimation and Sega bringing for us popular and newly released titles. Currently especially with the US anime industry, a lot has changed in just a short amount of time and it is very sad to see FUNimation as one of the few companies left. I am glad to see them show up at Anime Boston. Overall, the dealers room was solid and I want to thank their support.
Unlike other anime swap meets that I have been to, Anime Boston really applied the meaning of swap meet. The rule was simple: you trade stuff with one another with no money involved. While that sounded like a fun idea, I did not realistically see how two people could just happen to have something to trade where both were happy with the outcome regardless of how much taste they had in common. What if one happened to want something from another but had nothing to trade for it? I have heard from someone that swap meet was not the way it was this year and that the rule with no money involved was something recent but I could understand how something like selling at swap meet would upset the dealers. On the other hand, one could see it as a way for people to earn some cash so they actually have money to spend at the dealers room.
With the location, I felt that the room used was very small and crowded with limited space and a need for line and crowd control. At times I would almost be pushed to the side of the wall from people going in both directions and at times walking through a pathway as narrow as 2 feet wide.
Given that, swap meet at Anime Boston is still a fairly new event that is being shaped year after year. I myself strongly support swap meet and do not see it as a form of taking business from the dealers as extreme as some suggest. People need money to spend money and what better way to do that than passing on the item to another who sees it as treasure and buying new things with the earned money in the dealers room. For now regardless of whether swap meet should involve money or not, I at least hope to see an upgrade with the location and more importantly the size of the room. Best wishes to the fans that came and I hope to see more show up at the swap meet next year.
From Rock Band to Street Fighter IV to Beatmania, the video gaming room had many popular and well diverse games to accommodate con-goers as they seek out a place to relax in between events and show off their skills in whoopin butt. The set up was good with LCD TVs for games that looked more presentable with them and CTRs for others which played better on them. Chairs were abundant and TVs were placed on a platform with staffs watching over the consoles on the side. Tournaments were fairly organized from what I could tell with staff members keeping track of the brackets. Controllers were made available to check out if it was needed and people were even able to bring their own equipment to use and plug in for the systems.
Overall, I would say the video gaming at Anime Boston was organized for the most part. The only section that was lacking in the video gaming area were arcades but I also understood the difficulty and cost those things can get especially around this area. Either way, keep up the good work and bring back an even better next year for the fans!
Originality is typical of masquerade and Anime Boston this year was no exception to that. Skits ranged from groups dancing to the beat of Michael Jacksons Smooth Criminal to Vegeta crossing over to the world of the game Portal. One thing I did notice however was that the variety in the cosplay costumes was a bit lacking. Not saying that this was a negative point of masquerade but as someone who loves to see cosplayers from newer shows, it was really something that I looked forward to. For example, it would have been nice to throw a few K-On or Railgun cosplayers in the mix or even from popular and current anime in the US such as Lucky Star, Spice and Wolf, Gurren Lagann and Code Geass. However as with any performance in front of an audience large or small, these people bravely stepped into the spotlight to both have fun and to create something amazing for us to see so I want to acknowledge their efforts. Keep representing the originality that is masquerade. I look forward to it again next year.
Video Game Orchestra
Video game orchestra was founded very recently back in 2008 by Shota Nakama but has seen a drastic jump in popularity and is well received for their diversity and for the more obvious reason of playing awesome music from a variety of video game titles. As someone who both plays an instrument and loves video games, the video game orchestra main event for me was on the level of eating a Girl Scout Chocolate Mint Cookie dipped in saturated chocolate sauce. Yes, this event was just that amazing?
Seating for VGO started an hour early and by the time the pre-event show began, the room was already filled to the rim. After a short while, the band members came up to stage and started to tune their instruments. Following a quick introduction by Mr. Nakama, the video game orchestra began to fill the room with such beautiful and harmonious sounds that left me sitting there in awe. Thousands of people like me sat there silently while they allowed the music to flood into their ears through their auditory canal and finally into their brain as they reminisced about the game they once played recently or long ago. The choice of songs ranged from Chrono Trigger to Mario Galaxy to even Sonic: The Hedgehog. If as little words could be used to describe this orchestra, it would be the follow: simply.. amazing. I would consider this one of the most entertaining and favorite event I have ever attended at an anime convention and I suggest people to take the opportunity whenever they could to attend one of their concerts. I hope they return to Anime Boston next year and I thank them for not only reminding people of how important music is in a video game but also of how important is it to our lives.
Yes, this was not a mistake. One of the most if not the most renowned video game composer, Nobou Uematsu made his debut at Anime Boston this year. As a self-taught musician, Uematsu-san has composed music for numerous video games such as Chrono Trigger and the majority of the Final Fantasy franchise. It was an honor for me to see him as I still remember picking up the copy of the Final Fantasy IX OST that he composed almost a decade ago. For me and many other generation of fans young and old, his works gave life to the video games we played and still do to this very day.
At Uematsu-sans panel, the room was filled to the point where people were crowded to the side of the wall and against the door. A line of people curving towards the back of the door formed as fans stepped up one at a time to ask questions. Most if not all the questions were appropriate and some were even personal from aspiring young musicians who looked up to Uematsu-san as their role-model. It was a funny yet touching panel with an undertone of seriousness where everyone in the end felt connected with Uematsu-sans soft spoken words of advice, suggestions and encouragement.
I hope Uematsu-san will return again and I hope he has been touched by the praises of his fans as much as those he has touched himself. And oh according to him if you ever pass out in front of him, apparently beer and not Phoenix Down is the key to being revived. Just a little heads up =P
Reni Mimura, a cosplayer singer from Japan, moved to the United States in 2008 in hopes of introducing the idea of maid events, moe~ and her bunny ears to the people on the East coast and beyond :3
Her concert was on the very last day of the convention but a good number of people still showed up to show their support. When the concert started, Mimura-san got the crowd going and even taught them moves to dance along with her. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to learn it before her performance along with her so I was already a pro at it. Overall it was fun and the audience was good for the most part but still, there were some people in the crowd who were immature and laughed at some of the hand waves and cheers due to the differences in culture. I guess it was to be expected but maybe next time an 18+ sign should be used for some of those people for the purpose of preventing immaturity and lack of respect. Keep it up though Mimura-san! You have my support! :3
With every anime convention come fans who dress up as their favorite characters from that certain anime. One thing I did notice at Anime Boston was a lack of them and a lack of diversity within the cosplay community. Either I was not looking hard enough or I did not get lucky but regardless, the majority of the cosplayers were from Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z/GT, Bleach, Naruto and so on and so forth. Of course there were cosplayers from other anime but those were sparse to the point where I was almost trying to chase and hunt a few down (not to sound like a weirdo but it is my job lol). Though anime like K-On, Lucky Star, Toradora and Kannagi are fairly new, I would still have expected to at least see more than one or two of them or if ANY walking around. At times I would even see random cosplays of absolutely nothing relevant to anime or even video game..and maybe even a tree at one point. Also, I tried to look for where the cosplay gatherings were being held with no luck. Bottom of the line is more than being disappointed, I am more hopeful to see a diverse cosplay community arise next year. If there is a character one likes and can relate to, do it. The purpose here is not to get attention, it is to do it because there is something special you see and like in a character you are cosplaying as. Unfortunately for me, I would have cosplayed as Neko-arc but that is a whole different issue dealing with gender(less) stuff =P. But with every convention, I want to acknowledge those who did put the time and effort to making their cosplays so I will dedicate 5 slots to those individuals.
All in all, my first Anime Boston experience was in general a very positive one. For example artist alley, dealers room and video gaming were top notch and a good way for anyone to pass time and easily spend the whole day there. I especially enjoyed the video game orchestra and Uematsu-san and I really liked how Anime Boston used the theme of video game music this year by having both guests complement each other. Other guests of honor such as US voice actors and actresses seemed to also have been treated well and they seemed to have enjoyed their time as it was obvious in their special reenactment of the War of the Worlds with Carli Mosier, Chris Ayres, J. Michael Tatum and so forth. Of course these were only major events along with dozens and dozens of other things to do at Anime Boston.
One thing I want to mention and talk about is the staff members of Anime Boston. To start, they acted very professional and that in general kept the convention in order and organized. Main events started in a timely manner and delays were not long if there even were any. Also, they were very hospitable and knowledgeable. At one point I had requested to enter into the balcony area when it was at maximum capacity for the video game orchestra event to take photos in which I was allowed to. Also during Nobuo Uematsu panel session, I was allowed the freedom to move around and even up close to take photos as he was answering questions from his fellow fans. Finally, the coordinator of masquerade had allowed me freedom to move about throughout the event to take the necessary photos that I needed. I would say Anime Boston has an incredible team of staff members as they were professional, understanding and laid-back.
With fans and the attendees of Anime Boston, most were fairly young and I would even say the average age was 15-16 (which I guess is the typical age of anime fans anyways). With that however, I was surprised to see proper convention behavior from them. I saw no glomping ( thank god), I saw no running and no/very little screaming. The Hynes Convention Center joins together with a mall where non-convention people mix in with the crowd. The fact that I saw no police or mall security arresting and calling his mother for public disturbance was a good sign. However, I did find the occasional and sometimes non-stop Marco-Polo fad that people did a bit annoying.
My hopes for Anime Boston in the future for both the convention and fans are to open up to more possibilities in this vast subculture. For example, I look forward to seeing a possible maid cafe, a more promoted cosplay gathering event and invitation of Japanese seiyuu. To the attendees, I hope more will open up and be in tuned with not just what is out and popular in the US (or what is seen on /b everyday) but look into and really appreciate those who make anime happen as those are the ones who contribute to what we love. From there, one can start to appreciate and see anime on a whole new level if he has not already. Until then, farewell Anime Boston 2010 and on with Anime Boston 2011!