On April 21, 2019, more than twenty-five thousand anime fans departed the year’s Anime Boston event with fond memories in mind, and just a bit of brightness in a world that had become dark, even terrifying for many. As closing ceremonies wrapped up, and the halls of the Hynes grew still, the echoes of countless promises to return still echoed in the minds of many. No matter how dire things could become, many rested easy with the assurance that Anime Boston would return once again.

One year later, COVID-19 had devastated the world in a pandemic that would go on to infect more than half a billion people worldwide, and kill more than one million in the United States alone.

The convention scene was understandably decimated as, one after another, cons across the nation announced that they would remain closed for 2020. Every nerdy gathering, celebration, and fete, from Anime Expo to Anime Central began to update with announcements that the year’s event would not be held, in the interest of safety for the staff, the guests, and the fans who filled their halls year after year.

By March 14, 2020, Anime Boston had promised the same, citing a new Massachusetts ban on large gatherings.

Two people walk down a hallway with orange carpeting.

A year later, the convention’s executive team once more made a difficult choice, as a new wave of the virus had rocked the nation, pushing emergency rooms to their limit once more, as death tolls soared to record highs. The state’s ban on gatherings had remained intact, and it remained impossible for Anime Boston to consider holding a new convention, let alone begin planning one. In an official announcement on February 6, 2021, Anime Boston announced that they would not return for a second year.

Over the year, though, a miracle seemed to occur, as cases dipped to new lows, and one convention after another announced that they would begin to open their doors for a summer event, with Otakon leading the charge as the Convention at the End of the Rainbow.

Photo of three archways, through which several people can be seen milling about.

On October 22, New England anime fans were given an early holiday gift from the Anime Boston crew, who proudly announced that Anime Boston 2022 would officially be held from May 27 – 29, 2022, at the Hynes Convention Center. The event would require masks and proof of vaccinations, and the price for admissions did need to increase due to changes in the economic market.

The announcement was warmly received, with hundreds of excited tweets and comments flooding through the collective subculture warmly referred to as “AniTwitter.” Artists began pondering what merch to make for the event, as fans started to plan meetups and get-togethers. Each new announcement, from the opening of hotel blocks to new guests, was met with growing excitement, as it finally began to sink in that, after three years, one month, and seven days, it was finally happening.

The morning of May 27 seemed to come too fast, while not being fast enough, as time seemed to play tricks on those who were counting the days of anticipation. With badge in hand, though, and a new resolve, this reporter couldn’t help but take a moment as I adjusted my mask and checked my camera, before taking a long-overdue stroll through Anime Boston’s hallways. As I admired the colorful signage that dotted the corridors, or snapped the occasional landscape photo, a smile washed over my half-hidden face.

It had taken several years, but finally, I had come home.

Sign featuring a cartoon sushi roll that reads "Rice to see you again"