Anime Boston is a large-scale anime convention held annually in Boston, Massachusetts by the New England Anime Society. Since its humble beginnings in 2003, Anime Boston has quickly grown to become one of the largest anime conventions in the United States.
2012 marked Anime Boston's 10th Anniversary, and a whopping 22,000 attendees showed up to help the community celebrate. The transformation the convention has gone through across the past decade was on display at the Anime Boston museum, which was chock full of memorabilia such as program guides, staff shirts, a baseball bat signed by the entire voice cast of Gundam Wing, and a mock map of the Boston subway system with the stops named after convention locations. Main events showed slide shows and video footage from the early years of the con at the Park Plaza Hotel, and staff members often told impromptu stories of Anime Bostons past. Panelists also took it upon themselves to offer up something special for Anime Boston's milestone, such as The Chibi Project's double-feature anniversary panel. Regular programming was exceptionally good and included a vocal performance by Kanako Ito, a runway fashion show held by Japanese fashion designer Mint, a serious discussion about bullying hosted by voice actor Greg Ayres entitled "It Gets Better," and one of the best Cosplay Chess matches the convention has hosted in several years. "The Roadie" returned to host the masquerade with a new bag of gags and the show ran even more smoothly under his watch. Although Anime Boston somewhat copped out with its unoriginal "Post-Apocalyptic" theme for 2012's predicted Armageddon, the theme barely made an appearance among all the anniversary hoopla, and the con was better off for it. Despite being ten years old and having to compete with PAX East being held across town the same weekend, Anime Boston proved it is more relevant than ever and deserves its spot as one of the U.S.'s most popular conventions.
When Sketch and I finally arrived at the Sheraton Thursday and picked up our press badges, we discovered that our room on the 27th floor gave us access to the express elevator - BEST THING EVER! Not once did we or our roommates have to wait for more than a minute to catch the lift, a big plus since we had big costumes. Friday morning, Sketch and I checked into masq HQ where we found out our group had one 10 minute slot for both judging and "official" photos, and then were supposed to run to main events for rehearsal, which seemed insane to me. I tried not to worry too much as we went to tape Opening Ceremonies for the podcast before getting into our new Lynx and Riddel Viper costumes from Chrono Cross. That afternoon, we met up with ExileFayt as Serge and her friend as Leena for a Chrono Cross photoshoot. We got some fantastic shots, and the Christian Science Center security guard said we looked awesome and let us take photos, which was an nice surprise since they have been known to kick out cosplayers taking photos there in the past. The reflecting pool had already been filled for the spring season, and we were able to use that area as well.
That evening we had a run-through of our masquerade skit, in which we had Yuna summoning every Aeon from Final Fantasy X in honor of both the convention and the game's 10th anniversary. The skit was really great, but I was apprehensive about getting everyone to fit onto the smaller-than-usual stage in giant mascot costumes. Pushing my concerns aside, I changed into Eternal Chibimoon for The Chibi Project panel, which began as finding ways to destroy a toy figure of Chibiusa but expanded into finding fun ways to destroy all sorts of toys. PatrickD planned a little skit of me, as Chibimoon, using GLADoS from Portal to finally get revenge for all the years of torture at their hands. Afterwards EllyStar took some photos of me and Bry as my alter-ego, Black Lady, from Sailor Moon R. We then headed upstairs to help Sketch put the finishing touches on Bahamut from Final Fantasy X, where a whole horde of friends and acquaintances had shown up to pitch in and help. Sketch was touched by all the people who picked up a paint brush and helped the dragon come to life. A big thank you goes out to you all!
Saturday we were all up at 7AM to get into costumes; I was excited to premiere Shiva and the other Aeons, as we had spent months on them. It took until our judging time at 12:30PM to get everyone into everything despite the fact we had several outstanding friends serving as helpers. As I anticipated, scheduling photos and judging time for the same 10 minute slot was not going well, and we were told one thing, than another. The judges, whom are usually excellent at Anime Boston, were generally rude, rolled their eyes, and acted uninterested in examining our mascot costumes. They asked worrisome questions like "what is craftfoam?" and criticized my 30 lb Shiva wig I had slaved over because I used pre-made polystyrene rings as the base for the accent pieces and Sketch's insanely detailed Bahamut because the dragon's mouth didn't move. By the time we got through judging and set up for photos, someone told us to "get out" because there was no time for photos, and as we got halfway out the door someone else told us to set back up for photos, which was not easy when everyone needed so much assistance to do so. By now, a rehearsal was out of the question, and after the negative attitudes of the staff and hours and hours in the costumes, we were already feeling like we couldn't even make it to the masquerade wearing them. We'd worked QAY too hard to half-ass this, and everyone was already miserable, so we decided to pull the skit. The masq staff were devastated which was touching (and somewhat shocking since they had seemed so angry at us just minutes before), but the decision was a relief and we knew we would have messed up the show trying to get everyone on and off stage. We needed to rethink some of the logistics before trying this again. Less stressed than we'd been in months, we set up a pose at the end of the hall and were bombarded by cameras, and Lionel took some wonderful shots of the group and my Shiva costume. We then changed, went out to a much deserved and wonderful group dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, and caught the rest of the masquerade on the way back. Looking at what number they were on and what time it was, we reaffirmed we had made the right decision.
Sunday morning Sketch had to report for Chess as Lynx while I changed into my Rise costume from Persona 4. I headed to chess to tape segments for the podcast, but was so entertained by the show I ended up staying until almost the end. The chess match was refreshingly funny, with nearly all the characters having a stellar attack and the brilliant idea to have the "dead" characters fed to JENOVA from Final Fantasy VII, allowing them to exit out her plastic tube. I had to run out when I realized I was late for Greg Ayres' "It Gets Better" panel, which was a frank, meaningful discussion about bullying that I wished had been scheduled at a more convenient time as it was a talk that a lot more people would have done well to hear. Finally, I interviewed some con attendees with Elly-Star and met up with Bry-Chan and Sketch to do a final round of the dealer's room before going out for our goodbye lunch. Here's to another great ten years, AB!