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.
Just under 27,000 people came out to celebrate Anime Boston's fourteenth year with the theme "Field Day," featuring its mascots, A-Chan and B-Kun, running around the convention and leading spontaneous workout sessions and team events. Programing expanded outside of the Hynes into event space in both the Sheraton and the Hilton hotels to accommodate a wide array of panels, gaming events, cosplay contests, art shows, dances, vendors, and guest events. Special events included Friday night concerts by Japanese musical acts Ali Project and nano.ripe, and a launch party for the English dub of Lie in April where Aniplex screened the first three episodes for fans and hosted talks with both the Japanese and the U.S. creative teams. Cosplayers were out in full force and the Saturday night masquerade saw not only a well-run show but especially entertaining acts. The only major drawback to the weekend was that in addition to security bag checks which were implemented after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, the Hynes Convention Center additionally required near airport level security for congoers entering the facility, including metal detectors and individual searches. Poor coordination between the Hynes and Anime Boston security teams led to long lines, bottlenecks, disagreements over what was allowed in, and frustrations all around. Hopefully this will be sorted out going forward.
Friday morning Punzy, Sketch and I got into our InuYasha costumes, and headed downstairs, trying to figure out the best way to get into the Hynes. As the result of several assholes threatening to shoot up a Pokémon tournament at this same venue last year, the convention center security staff had installed metal detectors and bomb sniffing dogs at the main entrance which were wrecking havoc for cosplayers with large non-removable metal pieces and all sorts of prop weapons, causing a huge bottleneck to form. We were hoping we could bypass the whole mess by using the back entrance, and sure enough we walked right in with just a quick bag check. Once we got in we had fun visiting the dealer’s room and artist’s alley, and grabbing a quick lunch before I went to change into my Shiva costume for my shoot with Amie. Once I was suited up and painted blue I met up with Amie and headed outside; it was drizzling but luckily nothing major, and the overcast weather actually made the colors of my costume pop nicely. We even got shots of me throwing the hair braids around which was awesome! After the shoot we were able to re-enter the con at the back entrance again which was good news considering my Shiva wig was held on by a giant steel plate under my bodysuit which the metal detector people would have LOVED. I managed to be comfortable enough to stay in costume until around dinnertime, when I finally changed into Rainbow Brite and met up with Scarlet, EllyStar, Sketch and Katy at Anime Unscripted. The show was hilarious, and we chatted with PatD and Jekka after it wrapped up before heading to the AMV contest. We made it through the Romance section before leaving early to grab dinner; it was 10:30PM and we JUST made it to California Pizza Kitchen before they closed the grill. Whew!
Saturday morning Punzy, Scarlet and I got into our Summoners costumes, but they weren’t letting anyone through the back entrance today unless they had previously been through the front entrance for a prop check. There was no reason a prop check couldn’t be done at both entrances, but we relented and walked around to the front, only to find that the line TO GET INTO LINE wrapped around the entire building, and people had been waiting in it for over 40 minutes already. Instead we walked over to the Christian Science building with Sketch to take some photos, after which we still couldn’t get into the building in any reasonable amount of time, which was horribly frustrating. Admitting defeat, we returned to the room and changed our Zelda costumes, hoping that we could get inside in time to judge the masquerade! It was our first time wearing these, and they held up pretty well except my shoulder armor didn't want to stay quite in place; I'll have to adjust how I fasten it before I wear it again. We had a fantastic shoot with Amie and by the time we headed into the con itself, the line was only about a 20 minute wait (still ridiculous, but manageable). We finally got through after being harassed because Sketch’s chainmail set off all the detectors, only to find that the masquerade staff was going nuts trying to deal with security; contestants had been missing their judging and rehearsal times all day between the huge lines and having to have masquerade staff advocate for them when props and costume pieces were confiscated because although they met the con’s standards for safety, convention center security didn’t like them. What a zoo! I felt bad for the poor stressed-out staff and all the harried contestants. We had some extra time so we enjoyed wandering the con in our costumes before reporting to Main Events, setting up at the head table with the other performance judges. Last year had been a bit of a “B” year for entries, so I was expecting this year’s show to have some really good stuff this year.
Soon they were filling the hall and the show did not disappoint. The opening act came out and blew us away with exquisite Hyrule Warriors costumes, wonderful staging, and a clever, well-sung re-writing of the lyrics to a song from Galavant to reflect the Zelda, Link, and Gannon characters. It was simple, wildly entertaining, showcased performance talent, and the costumes were outstanding. They walked off stage with Best in Show and it was up to everyone else to try and knock them off the top shelf. In the end, nobody did, but there were so many acts that came close. One contender was a journeyman Pokemon skit of Jesse and James which was 100% in character, well-written and well-acted, and had us laughing hysterically. We happily awarded them Best Performance. A Master division Zelda group had drop-dead gorgeous costumes and an involved skit that might have been better if it had been simplified a bit, but was still a very solid performance. With different acts to compete against they might have been a Best in Show contender but nothing could top the entertainment value of the Best in Show and Best Performance winners. I gave my judge’s award to a couple who did a modern emotional dance; the girl had great technique, her partner kept up with her and I really gave them props for doing something serious and pulling it off extremely well. A drag queen came out and did the full Real Emotion song from Final Fantasy X-2, dancing with such enthusiasm the whole crowd was swept into it, and she had Katy’s judge’s award before she was even halfway finished. There weren't any bad entries at all; overall everyone did a great job and we had a hard time choosing some of the down-ballot awards, which is a wonderful position to be in as a judge - having too many good things to choose from! Once the show wrapped up we changed quickly and headed to Cheesecake Factory for a late dinner. YUM!
Sunday morning we were up bright and early to pack up the car as usual and go back to bed – our recent and effective AB tradition. Sketch and I dressed as Godric Gryffindor and Rowena Ravenclaw for the day, had a morning shoot with Amie, and enjoyed the con for the afternoon. We got a lot of positive response to our costumes, which was great! Finally we changed, hung out with Patrick and Doug for a bit, then grabbed a late lunch at Max Brenner’s before heading home. A great weekend overall!