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.
Anime Boston celebrated thirteen years in 2015 with the theme "Kaiju vs. Mecha," pitting fans of giant city-destroying robots against those rooting for giant city-destroying monsters. Attendance passed 26,000 this year, which at times, especially on Saturday, led to some congesting entering and exiting the Hynes Convention Center. However once away from the crowded main hallway, there was plenty of room to spread out. Fans in attendance enjoyed a wide array of panels, gaming events, screenings, art shows, and vendors, and special guests. Fitting with the Mecha/Kaiju theme, the signature guests of the weekend were Akira Takarada and Haruo Nakajima from Japan's long-running series of Godzilla films. Both signed autographs and posed for photos all weekend; Mr. Takarada also offered hand written calligraphy of Godzilla’s name in kanji as a memento. Other guests included voice actresses Cherami Leigh and Cassandra Lee Morris, and Japanese singer LiSA, who performed to a packed house Friday night. Despite some crowd traffic issues, the convention was well-run and staffed by professional-acting and helpful volunteers.
Sketch and I headed to the con Friday morning dressed in our brand new Miroku from InuYasha and Summoner Belgemine from Final Fantasy X costumes. Sketch headed off to assist with the Cosplay Death Match while I wandered the convention on my own – something I haven’t done in a long time and it was a refreshing feeling to revisit. That afternoon I met up with Gale and Cimerone for a photoshoot with Photography by Amie E. Amie was wonderful to work with and got some fantastic shots of us. The shoot done, I headed to the Death Match; when I walked in, the Alchemists were on stage hamming it up for the crowd - so entertaining! That evening I changed into Madoka for a full cast shoot, also with Amie. I was thrilled to finally have the whole Madoka group together! After a quick dinner, I got into Tomoyo from Tsubasa before hitting up the AMV contest with Katy. I hadn’t been to the AMVs at Anime Boston in years! Watching AMVs with a huge audience is such a great experience, and I was glad I could go. The videos themselves were all over the place; my favorite of the night, however was Awake to the Sky, which used clips from several films by Studio Ghibli.
Saturday Sketch and I got into Sango and Miroku from InuYasha so we could finally cosplay them together. EllyStar put red makeup on her hand and slapped Sketch in the face to make a handprint mark, which was quite realistic looking. The three of us headed out to wander the con, and eventually went to take some photos near the trees inside the mall. On the way back Pru security wouldn’t allow us to return to the Hynes area. At first I thought they were directing traffic around the indoor courtyard loop, flowing people out one way and in another. Instead, security had blocked the loop and forced everyone to EXIT THE BUILDING, walk past the Christian Science Center towards the Sheraton and then climb two flights of stairs to get back in...a few feet from where the loop would have placed us. WTF. Luckily it wasn’t raining, but it was windy and not only did our wigs blow all over the place but I almost took flight with my boomerang. What about people in wheelchairs or otherwise could not manage the stairs? I get traffic flow, but the loop would have solved that; there was absolutely no reason we could see to force us down the street.
That afternoon I wore Rosette from Chrono Crusade to judge the masquerade, Sketch was staffing and he and Scarlet got into Steiner and Ruby from Final Fantasy IX, and EllyStar was competing in her artbook outfit from Cardcaptor Sakura. We arrived in Main Events about an hour before start; I had judged masquerades at smaller conventions before, but this was my first go at a large show. Having competed here often myself, it was exciting to sit on this side of the table and have a front row seat to enjoy the show. my fellow performance judges were Katy, Rhea, and HaruVamp, whom I knew from her work but whom I'd never met before. She was funny and tiny and has an adorable German accent. There was a lot of murmurs among the contestants that most of the entries were in the master's division, and therefore competition would be tough. However I knew from experience that the division categories typically only accurately reflect craftsmanship – it is typical to see fancier, cleaner costumes from the masters level. Performance, however, is usually all over the place, and we were only judging performances.
The show opened with an exhibition skit using “A Whole New World” from Aladdin with characters from Howl’s Moving Castle. It was entertaining, had several impressive set pieces, and made wonderful use of the screen; overall a great way to start the show! However, what followed was a slew of skits which were extremely difficult to follow, making judging tough. A breath of fresh air was the journeyman entry “Magical Girl 101,” a simple skit which had Eriol from Card Captor Sakura teaching Sakura how to be a magical girl. The premise was straight forward and the dialog had us laughing out loud. Another highlight was a Master’s skit which featured a girl who sang live with a gorgeous voice, and portrayed a sad moment between two characters with lovely costumes. Gale and Cimone's Ouran Host Club skit was entertaining, and the second-to-last skit, which was a group of NOVICES, came on as the Sailor Senshi and completely woke us up with a lip-synched, choreographed dance to "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls. Although their ability to do the moves varied widely from person to person, their stage presence was fantastic, especially the Chibi Moon, who got everyone singing and clapping along to her original rap. What really pushed it over the edge for me was that they had a music video on the big screen in the background they had made and was so well done I had a hard time deciding which to watch. The final skit was a master’s skit which turned into a real-life marriage proposal at the end, which was a nice way to wrap up the show. We made unanimous decisions in under 20 minutes on the winners and we danced on stage to the final AMV before all of the masquerade awards were announced. Despite all the chatter about the masters-heavy masquerade this year, the best two skits were a novice and a journeyman group, with the Spice Girl Senshi snagging Best in Show and Magical Girl 101 getting Best Performance. After the show ended we escaped main events to change and grab dinner. Party time!
Sunday we loaded up the car early before the elevators clogged up; we were done by 8:30 and didn’t have to wait more than 30 seconds for an empty, or near-empty elevator. Back at the room Sketch headed to Chess while Scarlett and I hit up the con as Summoner Belgemine and Ginnem! We were stopped constantly for photos, which made me happy because Scarlett deserved some attention for this costume and she was having a great time. That afternoon we walked over to the Christian Science Plaza and Sketch got some awesome photos of us with the Mother Church looking like Reniem Temple in the background. We had good luck there this weekend; I've had security guards yell at us and kick us out, security guards who watched us, then complimented our costumes and left, and times when no one bothered us at all. After photos we went back inside and met up with several friends I hadn’t seen yet all weekend before finally changing and heading over to Wagamama for a well-deserved late lunch, another successful AB behind us!