As the doors opened for this year’s Anime Boston, one couldn’t help but feel a pang of irony. This year’s theme was Undokai, or the traditional Sports Day celebrations held across Japan. Outside, though, the conditions were far from hospitable for any sporting activities. The skies were grey, and clouds hung low as a drizzle pattered across the pavement outside.
Once inside, though, this mattered little, as the energy of the moment proved to be a far more compelling force than Mother Nature. THe hallways were quickly filled with eager attendees. As the minutes ticked by, though, it was easy to see the growing pair of lines, which snaked from the Dealer’s Room, and the Main Events auditorium. The folks at the Dealer’s Room, well, it’s clear that they were waiting to get their shop on.
The other line, on the other hand, was waiting for the sound of the starting gun for this year’s convention. Fans started streaming into the auditorium shortly before 10:00, filling the seats until the room was packed to capacity. As the last seat was filled, the house lights dimmed, and the now-traditional “cosplot” sketch kicked off.
For the uninitiated, the “Cosplot” is Anime Boston’s home-grown series of shorts, which serve as a general bookend for the convention. Actors fill the roles of convention mascots A-chan and B-kun in a series of short segments, which are set within the year’s theme.
Keeping with the sports-centric theme, this year’s show kicked off with a primer for horse racing. Well, kind of. If horse racing involved jockeys playing video games, or having a romantic dinner with their companions in horse (and shark, and raptor) masks.
To be honest, it got a little weird, this time. Thankfully, the video segment was kept short, and the fun was back on. A-chan and B-kun trotted onstage, decked out in, you guessed it, horse masks. They took a few minutes to warm up the crowd with a few jokes and jabs to get a few chuckles rolling through the audience.
As A-chan and B-kun left the stage, convention chairman Victor Lee and vice chair Lauren Gallo took the stage. As with previous years, the two talked up topics of general interest such as the formal ball and the charity that the convention would be supporting this year.
After the two finished their announcements, Lee and Gallo took their leave, as the guest introductions began to roll.
One by one, the guests took to the stage, offered a quick greeting, and hurried offstage. Of the guests in attendance, though, possibly the most memorable greeting came from Madhouse co-founder and MAPPA founder Masao Maruyama. He stepped onstage, clad in a yellow sweater and khakis, mic in hand. As he took the middle of the stage, he turned to the audience, and cheerfully proclaimed “I am Masao Maruyama, the studio head in Shirobako.”
To see a living legend, who trained under Tezuka and helped to usher in an entire era of Japanese animation address the crowd with such a light, playful tone was enough to bring a smile to this long-time fan’s face. He continued, explaining that Anime Boston had approached him several times, but he was always attending the concurrent AnimeJapan. Rather than spend another year there, he noted that he was ready to check out this side of the pond.
The musical guests, nano.RIPE and Ali Project brought their own energies into the room as they took to the stage. nano.RIPE brought a vibrant, energy that was particularly evident in lead vocalist Kimiko, who led the conversation.
Ali Project’s Arika Takarano, on the other hand, exuded a unique confidence, as she took to the stage in an intricate white dress, complete with a crown-like hairpiece. Her message was calm and collected, as she brought a unique sense of authority into the room.
After each guest spoke to the crowds, con chair Victor Lee took to the stage once more, welcoming a special industry guest. Crunchyroll’s Adam Sheehan took to the stage, where he explained what the company was bringing to the event as a major sponsor. From discounts to early access, Sheehan went over the benefits that would have fans tickled pink with excitement.
Lee and Gallo took to the stage once more after this, to thank the crowd for attending before setting the audience loose upon the Hynes.
Anime Boston had officially begun.