It was a rainy Friday morning when I arrived at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. And while I was early to arrive to Opening Ceremonies, the room was already abuzz with excitement by the time I was seated. Seats were filling quickly, and the chatter was growing to a fever pitch. It wasn’t long before seating became relegated to standing room only. As the clock struck 10:30, the lights dimmed and the traditional “Cosplot” began.
This year, though, things were carried out a bit differently than normal. The usual introduction played out, with mascots A-chan and B-kun briefly introducing the theme of the event through a pre-recorded skit. However, the usual extended segment was cut short. Instead, Andrea Finnin and Victor Leem, the convention chair and vice chair respectively, took the stage to discuss the recent bombings. They noted the seriousness of the event, and noted that the many attending will help to bring commerce to an area that has, in recent weeks, seen difficult financial times. They stated that the event’s staff made a contribution to The One Fund, which will benefit victims of the attack. They announced that, like all other years, the American Red Cross was holding a blood drive, and that they would be hosting their charity raffle and auction for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. In addition, all proceeds from the convention’s formal ball would go to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
After the usual sponsor reel, Lee introduced the guests to the crowd. Each guest’s appearance was preceded by a short video showing his (or her) most notable roles. After their introduction, each guest would make an appearance onstage to mention his or her events and panels at the event. Of the American guests, Chris Ayres and Christopher Bevins couldn’t make opening ceremonies due to outstanding circumstances. As always, the final announced American guest was Tom Wayland. And, in his usual fashion, Wayland made a grand entrance with a prepared video introduction.
In his introduction, Wayland and his children sought to find a way to greet the Anime Boston crowd without making Red Sox gags. The first attempt was a short spoof of the old Ghostbusters film’s TV commercial scene starring Wayland’s children. And, while this was hilarious, Wayland put the kibosh on the idea, stating that it didn’t relate to the con’s “yokai” theme. This led to a second skit, which was a hilarious re-dub of 2004 short film Kakurenbo. The scene was genuinely funny, and made great use of the film’s over-the-top style. And, while Wayland was ultimately unable to keep his promise, it was easy to forgive with such a charming presentation. During Wayland’s introduction, the crew moved a prop well onto the stage, which Wayland slithered out of in a manner that wasn’t unlike Sadako from Ringu.
After Wayland left the stage, musical guest Raj Ramayaa took to the stage, where he performed a rendition of the Cheers theme. For the uninitiated (or those too young to remember Cheers), the series was set in a fictional Boston bar, which was owned by a former Red Sox pitcher. After his performance, Ramayaa asked the audience for three words (of which they chose “freebird”, “yaoi”, and “otaku”), which he used to perform an off-the-cuff song.
Afterwards, fashion designer IBI took the stage, where he delivered a prepared English remark that stated he loved Boston and clam chowder.
Can’t blame a guy for trying.
After IBI’s introduction, Shinichi Watanabe, better known as Nabeshin, was introduced. He dashed out to the stage, sporting his usual magnificent afro and carrying a traditional paper fan. After entering the stage, Nabeshin literally flopped to the ground before rising to deliver his remarks. He noted that both he and the city of Boston suffered setbacks, but “both Boston and I have come together and we are both here now!”
The next guest to arrive was Sword Art Online producer Shinichiro Kashiwada, who asked the audience if they liked the series. The audience responded with a deafening cheer that could only be interpreted as a resounding “yes! Hell yes!” Following Kashiwada was Sword Art Online Tomohiko Ito. Ito thanked the crowd in English, and delivered a prepared remark, stating that he was surprised at the series’s popularity in America. Following Ito was military adviser Yasuhiro Koshi, who took to the stage decked out in a Shinsengumi jacket.
When Koshi left the stage, musical guests Yousei Teikoku (“Fairy Empire”) stepped onstage. Group singer Yui channeled her stage persona of the princess of the Empire of Fairies (hence the group name) as she spoke. She ordered her “subjects” to attend the evening’s concert. Musical guest Origa was the final guest to take the stage, and she made a splash with her entrance, as she performed Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex opener “Inner Universe” for the crowd.
After the performance, Finnin and Lee took to the stage once again to thank viewers for attending. The audience was then set loose upon the Hynes, and Anime Boston officially began.