Anime Boston 2017

| May 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Three men walk into an anime convention together. The first, cosplaying as an intergalactic lynx, challenges the second, who’s cosplaying as Jack Skellington, to a fight. The third walks past them with an amused smirk on his face, and his name is Senator Bernie Sanders.

Unfortunately, I did not have the distinct pleasure of meeting Mr. Sanders during my time at Anime Boston 2017 this March (nor did I get the chance to find out why all anime conventions should be free and how we need to close the income gap between cosplayers and non-cosplayers). But if this was Bernie’s first time at Anime Boston, as I imagine it was, I do have some knowledge and experience to share from my own such experience the previous year. And for anyone who’s never been, there are a number of reasons I’d highly recommend checking it out at some point.

Some background: Anime Boston has been an annual Boston tradition since 2003, organized and run by the New England Anime Society. Currently, it is held every year at the Hynes Convention Center and holds the record as the largest anime convention in the northeast.

When my best friend invited me to go last year, however, I was hesitant. I consider myself a nerd of many trades, master of none, and of anime an unapologetically pathetic noobnugget. My experience is limited to the largely mainstream Dragon Ball and Naruto franchises, which enthralled me growing up, and the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. But that was as far as it went. Still, I took the chance, and it paid off enough for me to look forward to attending again this year.

First of all, Anime Boston doesn’t cater exclusively to anime fans. You’ll find panels and cosplayers from all walks of fandom, so there’s something for everyone to gush about: comic books, videogames, pulp movies, memes. The cosplays themselves are brilliant, most of them intricately handmade and tailored with an eye for detail even most film directors lack. Last year, my friend and I ran into a Belle at the Barnes and Noble bookstore next to the convention (which was several levels of fitting when you think about it), and to this day my friend gushes about how much more well-designed her dress was than Emma Watson’s in the recent live action film.

Me with Ignis, Prompto, Luna and Nyx of Final Fantasy XV fame.

Me with Ignis, Prompto, Luna and Nyx of Final Fantasy XV fame.

When it comes to panels and programming, you’ll want to be careful. The smaller ones, run by fans and passionate college students, can be hit-or-miss. They present theses of variably interesting degree and talk about them, encouraging audience participation and dialogue. However, sometimes the dialogue does get hijacked by one or two attendees in the front row, which blocks the openness a little. Other times, you could end up engaging in some genuinely enlightening conversation and come away with a new perspective on your favorite work.

The larger panels are usually safer. This year I had the pleasure of attending one hosted by prestigious voice actor Johnny Yong Bosch (known for his roles as the Black Ranger of Power Rangers fame, Nero from Devil May Cry 4, and Kiba from Wolf’s Rain), who was hilarious and just a great guy. After the panel he took the time to personally go through a line of 100-something attendees and snap a photo with each and every one of them.

Here's Johnny!

Here’s Johnny!

I would also recommend the various specialized panels about voice acting, web-comics, and music/soundtrack composition, as they are usually led by industry professionals with helpful tips and experience in the field.

Game shows and contests like Anime Taboo (again, not restricted to anime despite the name), Anime Charades (ditto), and the Anime Music Video (AMV) contests are usually solid bets too, and hilarious to watch. We attended the Comedy AMV presentation this year, and there was some very clever editing going on.

Then, there are also signings by voice actors: I met Lex Lang who played my favorite childhood villain Dr. Neo Cortex (and Wargreymon of Digimon fame!), and Robbie Daymond who recently played two of my favorite characters in the Final Fantasy series: Kurasame Susaya and Prompto Argentum. The latter signed my copy of Final Fantasy XV!

My signed Neo Cortex print and Final Fantasy XV.

My signed Neo Cortex print and Final Fantasy XV.

And, saving the best for last, the precious gemstone of any good convention: Artist’s Alley. You know all that amazing fan-art that pops up on your Tumblr and DeviantArt feeds from time to time? Well, located on the second floor of the convention center, you’ll find prints and posters of all your favorite characters masterfully brought to life by those very same artists. My personal acquisitions include a stunning Horizon Zero Dawn piece by Vicki Sarkissian and an inspiring Rogue One poster by Danielle Sylvan. Also in attendance were the Boston University Comics Art group, who were selling some beautiful buttons and artwork of various anime and game series, drawn and designed here at BU. Go Terriers!

Long story short, I have not regretted either of my two Anime Boston experiences and would encourage any nerds in the Boston/BU area to check it out sometime. It’ll leave a hole in your wallet, but I believe it was Confucius in some random-obscure-anime-that-probably-exists-but-I-can’t-be-sure-of-because-I’m-making-it-up who once said, “A hole in your wallet, Onii-san, is delicious stuffing in your heart.”

Featured photo credit: Me with voice actor Lex Lang, taken by Sifana Sohail.

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Category: Art and Literature, Boston, East by West by T, featured, Poetry, Prose and Comedy, TV and Movies

Aaraf Afzal

About the Author ()

Aaraf Afzal is many things, but he's not particularly good at being any of them. He continues to work towards this goal, among others, studying Film & TV and Economics at Boston University. An avid subscriber to the belief that all forms of media have their own sense of artistic beauty, he is particularly invested in writing fiction and recently released his first novel "Re: Revolution" in Bangladesh. Alongside his pursuits at Culture Shock, he's currently at work writing an online series called "The Chosen Zeroes." Fandoms and inspirations include Neil Gaiman, Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet and Clank, Marvel Comics, and Culture Shock. Giggity.

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