Comic book fans and enthusiasts of any niche pop culture genre can be secular at times, closed minded, and exclusionary. It is the nature of the thing, I suppose, to be deeply invested and engaged by taking ownership of what appeals to you and what may become the building blocks of your identity. I’ve ignored the last ten Anime Boston conventions on this narrow-minded reasoning. After the Marathon bombings postponing Boston Comic Con this year, I put on my black costume karate gi to embrace the sense of pride and engagement with the nerd fan community that one can only get at a large convention in your hometown. This is how I, as a superhero comic fan, learned to stop worrying and love Anime Boston 2013.
My photographer Stacey and I headed for our passes early in the day, eager to take in the wonders of Anime Boston on Saturday. Lines were manageable with bag checks and plenty of volunteers to assist directing traffic. In light of the terrorist attacks, no weapons were allowed at the con this year.
There were plenty of foam swords, accessories, and larger than life costumes this year, so the restriction was certainly not affecting anyone’s creativity.
It should be noted, cosplay at Anime Boston is intricate and omnipresent. Well over 80 percent of the crowd is dressed up or decorated in some way.
Nerds of all fashions are here, Doctor Who fans, Vorlons (Babylon 5), superheroes, kitty cats with mechanical ears, all manner of tails and white masks swarm around you in a sea of paper mache, facepaint, leather, and vinyl. Cosplayers range in age from young to old and costume materials range from $2 to $2,000.
Cosplay at Comic Con is huge, don’t get me wrong, but as Stacey pointed out, “You’d be out of place if you didn’t dress up here.”
My thirst for nerd knowledge makes me a panel junkie. Anime Boston uses Guidebook, a live updating smartphone app that makes it easy to look at a complicated schedule such as this that includes screenings, martial arts demos, panels, kid’s activities, signings, and contests. We had set up our schedule in advance the night before and backed this up with the hard copy on the convention floor. Getting the lay of the land took some getting used to, Anime Boston uses most spaces in the gigantic Hynes Convention Center.
Our first panel was with Mecha Software, LLC. The South Shore firm gave us good insight into how to develop a video game from the drawing board to market.
This inspired us to get over to a room down the hall for a panel called All The Mecha You’ll Ever Need. This giant robot-centric panel exposed some great and lesser known and underrated Anime robot movies and series that eventually evolved into Voltron and more recent super robots worth checking out.
Here we’ve heard of Crunchyroll, the Netflix of anime, hosting popular but also rare and hard to find full episodes and movies.
It was hard to keep up with the panelists there, but it is safe to say we have over a hundred hours of recommended viewing of robot shows to catch up on, including Beast King GoLion, Armored Fleet Dairugger XV (both are the basis for Voltron), Flag, and Combattler V to name a few.
Next up was Anime and the Japanese Military Experience, a fun and educational panel hosted by Constantine von Hoffman (CBSNews.com).
I’ve made it a point to voraciously devour anything samurai-related since checking out the Samurai Exhibit at the MFA.
Anime and movies like Godzilla frequently address the complicated relationship Japan has with it’s own military, as well as outside forces. Recommended movies from this panel include Space Battleship Yamato, Barefoot Gen, Steamboy, and Eva.
The next panel was a swordsmanship demonstration directly affected by the “No Weapons” policy at the con. By no means was this any less fun. Sensei David Lee brought up audience members with prop weapons to demonstrate Kendo (Way of the Sword) techniques and attacks to the men (head).
A full house of cosplayers and fans all yelled “Kiai” at the sensei’s command, before a shutō-uchi (karate chop) board breaking session.
A small tribute to the security at the con and the tragic loss of the Marathon bombings was particularly emotional with so many people in the same room together feeling safety in numbers.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the con floor, looking for comics and chatting with our pals from the Adventure Time comic, Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb alongside Zack Giallongo over in artist alley.
We somehow bought way too many BMO pins from a particular vendor and some stickers for the car.
The vendor game was tight at this convention. New England Comics and Comicopia had large booths, amidst the toy and costume tables. If you didn’t wear a costume and felt left out, you could grab a tail here.
Gaming (tabletop, dice, and retro video gaming) had a strong showing in vendor land as well.
Luckily for me, I fought the urge to buy the gigantic 14.5” Batman Returns: A Call to Arms statue and kept my budget for lunch, BMO pins, and an impulse buy of colored pencils to spew out some of the creative energy I’d accumulated by magic and osmosis on Saturday.
Anime Boston was a comfortable and safe space for nerds and sci-fi fans this weekend, and a positive experience for all that avoided any of the dreaded Con Crud.
The positive vibrations continue to flow and echo out as a message that these large gatherings can and will happen in our city and we can feel safe and enjoy what matters.
Sunday, I swung by Boston Calling to catch The Walkmen and The National. Not once this weekend did I feel put out or annoyed with any extra security. I just felt like a citizen of the communities I am in love with and that it is easy to feel comfortable with a few thousand likeminded friends around.
It turns out, comic fans and music fans and anime fans are really the same people anyway. I plan to return next year to Anime Boston with some hours of animation logged in, because I think I’m catching the bug.
League of Ordinary Gentlemen Podcast Episode #153 – Interview with Tyler Weaver
This week, author and transmedia specialist Tyler Weaver stops by to chat about his writings, digital media, Man of Steel and selling The Spirit. Well, trying to.
Buy Tyler’s Book Here. Click on the Cover to buy from Amazon and help us all out!.
Direct Download / Mp3 Stream (opens in new window).