It’s Monday night, about a week out from Anime Boston. Chances are, you’re tired of hearing me prattle on about the con by this point.
Honestly, I can’t really blame you.
But, that said, I’d like to say a few words about the actual experience before I close the books on this year.
The weekend began like every other, with a ride into the city on the commuter rail. I trekked to the Sheraton in the biting cold March weather, and checked my bags before finally picking up my pass for the weekend. Upon grabbing my pass, though, I couldn’t help but notice something was a bit “different” from the years before. Maybe it was the lighting. Maybe it was the assortment of shops in the Prudential Center. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the gigantic freaking line that ran from the entrance of the Hynes to the Sheraton’s Liberty Ballroom.
At nine in the morning, there were literally hundreds lined up not only to get their badges, but also to get into the convention itself. The enhanced bag searches were back this year, and they were bigger than ever. The bag checks from last year were back, but it seemed like the stationed members were unable to cope with the sheer volume of folks clamoring to get into the Hynes. Tweets poured in from all over the internet bemoaning the wait, and fans could be seen growing visibly agitated through portions of the crowd.
On top of this, there was an odd split, where certain panels and events were held in rooms at the Sheraton Hotel. So, for those who wanted to attend these panels, it meant leaving the Hynes, then immediately returning to the bag check lines that would eat roughly an hour at peak times. Even those of us in the press weren’t immune, as the split between Hynes and Sheraton turned some stretches into awkward dashes, as we ran from the top floor of the Hynes, over to the Liberty Ballroom in the Sheraton, then hurried back to the highest floors of the convention center to cover industry events.
Line criticisms aside, though, I must admit that the event, as a whole, was one of the strongest in recent memory. The lineup of programming was incredible, and often the biggest complaint that there were too many interesting events happening at the same time! Anime Hell ran against Extreme Geek and the JAM Project concert. Anime Unscripted competed with Dubs that Time Forgot. Bad Anime, Bad! ran opposite… well, you get the picture. Basically, even if an attendee couldn’t make it to the event he wanted to, there were at least two or three fantastic alternatives at any given time.
Of this year’s programming, it’s hard to really choose a favorite event. The breadth and quality of the content was simply incredible, and spanned all topics and subjects. Silly improv shows were tempered by deep discussions on shows like Mushi-shi. A lecture by two assholes about comics and Super Sentai was complemented by a deep dive into Sailor Moon merchandise. There was potential for every event to be someone’s favorite.
If really pressed, though, I’d have to say the following were the must-sees of the convention this year:
Bad Anime, Bad!
For yet another year, Brian T. Price brought his own brand of cruel and unusual punishment to anime fans everywhere. Rather than show off the best and brightest shows that we’ve all seen a billion times before (We get it. FLCL and Kill la Kill are awesome.), he brings out the worst dreck imaginable. Year after year, he introduces thousands to the horrors of titles like Garzey’s Wing, Magnos the Robot, and Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned. These are shows that will end a marriage. They’re titles that will have most people writhing in their seats, groaning and complaining as every minute ticks by.
These are the shows that scrap the bottom of the barrel. They’re so horrifically crappy that most people wouldn’t be caught dead watching outside of the convention. And yet, people turn up year after year, to the point that they’ll pack a room that seats 2,000 to capacity. Maybe it’s Price’s great comedic timing, or his ability to highlight the perfect moment to show off in a series. Perhaps it’s the goofy observations, or the clever naming of stand-out characters like “Totally Gay Not Gay Friend” and “Wandering Perspective Man.” Or maybe, it’s the fact that the titles he shows tend to be so bad that they’re somehow amazing, in a Plan 9 From Outer Space way.
Whatever the reason, this year saw over 2,000 fill into Hall D to watch an episode of Garzey’s Wing, selections from Protectors of Universe, and a few comically awful cartoon intros. The room shared in laughter, groaning, and facepalms as they struggled to grasp exactly what cinematic abortions were unleashed upon them. For veterans, there weren’t many surprises. Still, a good time was had by all. Of course, the folks that attended knew exactly how to show their appreciation for the evening:
From East to West: the superheroes of America and Japan
This is a bit of a shameless plug. For the fourth year, Ken Haley from Comic Book Resources and I hosted this panel, which traced the history of both western and eastern superheroes, from their humble beginnings to the current day. This was actually the brainchild of Sam Kusek, who couldn’t make it this year. We did our best, though, and hopefully did his vision justice this time around.
The panel proper isn’t just a straight lecture. We did what we could to bring in things like obscure facts and quotes, along with clips and quips to help bring color to the discussion. I’m not going to say we knocked it out of the park, as there’s always room for improvement. I can’t help but feel that this year, we were able to deliver our best effort yet. I hope that you all attend in the years to come, everybody!
The Attack on Titan Dub Premiere
I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of an Attack on Titan junkie. The dub premiere was one of the big events I was looking forward to, as it was the first chance to see how FUNimation would handle the latest phenomenon to grip the anime world. All eyes were on the company after a shaky rollout to Netflix a few months back, though the trepidation turned to excitement as clip after clip began to make its way to the internet.
Thousands crammed into Hall D, to the point that not a seat was left empty. Fans decked out as the Survey Corps, the Trainees, and even Titans dotted the crowd, as the lights went down and the big reveal finally came to light. The room erupted when Bryce Papenbrok was revealed to be the voice of Eren. When the episodes themselves began, the atmosphere was something surreal. Hearing over a thousand cheerfully singing along to “Sind sie das essen? Nein, wir sind der Jager!”, and being embraced by the sheer energy of the moment was something incredible. People were riveted, glued in a stunned silence as they finally saw the dub playing on the gigantic screens of the auditorium.
That said, it wasn’t all reverent silence. From my seat, I couldn’t help but hear a number of fans nearby happily quoting off their favorite bits of the Attack on Titan Abridged series. Quips like “You, ah, like some potates?” and “Jaeger Bombastic!” seemed to add a humorous flavor to the premiere for me.
The dub itself was fantastic. The acting was strong and the adaptation worked well. There will certainly be detractors, but I left the room feeling satisfied that the title was in good hands.
Despite a few setbacks and growing pains, this year’s event was another strong event. The programming was fantastic, and everybody, from the staff to the attendees were simply fantastic. Since the very first Anime Boston, I’ve maintained that the convention was something special. I’m not sure if it’s the location, the people behind the event, or just something in the water, but Anime Boston has always had this “homey” feel, that’s welcoming and comfortable, while at the same time running with an incredible degree of professionalism and precision. Every year, it’s been an honor to cover the convention, and I can’t thank those that have helped us along the way enough!