Easter has once again come and gone. Which, for those of us in the American northeast also signaled the passage of another Anime Boston.
All in all, this was an interesting year for the con – in many ways, it’s still the enjoyable experience it has been in the past, but as with the past couple of years, there were also some new changes this year that are going to take a while to get the hang of.
The keywords being ‘once inside.’ A lot has already been said and written regarding the security enforced by the Hynes Convention Center this year – I will go on record as saying I don’t lay this one at the feet of AB’s staff, who went to bat for the congoers on this on throughout the weekend and have my thanks for that. In fact, the executive staff of Anime Boston have already issued an official statement regarding many of the concerns here. As such, I’ve already rewritten this a few times (I will admit, in my first draft my concerns over this system were…much more exhaustive) before coming to this point.
As it is, I’ll just leave it at two main points – thanks to the addition of metal detectors and the like, however well-intentioned, lines got to be particularly bad this year. Friday especially proved to be a problem, as it often led to congoers waiting outside in cold, rainy March weather – not exactly the best way to engender good faith right there.
The other main point being the fact that the checkpoints were only really around one part of the con struck as odd given there are events and panels in parts of the Sheraton that would then require one to ‘leave’ the con to go to them (including several autograph rooms) and have to go through security once again as a result. Again, I get the intention wasn’t that bad, but the inconsistency of it really undercut a lot of that good will.
As for the con itself, this year otherwise continued to uphold the general level of enjoyment that has made the con a staple of east coast conventions for now well on 13 years (I had a bit of a time warp moment realizing next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the ‘All the Mecha You Will Ever Need’ panel…where does the time go?).
The panels offered this year were a good spread for both fans and industry members alike, though I found it a little strange to not see many panels lined up to go with these year’s sporting theme. Not that I can judge too much, as I will admit to be partially responsible for the fact that, despite it being last year’s focus, this year’s panels saw quite a bit of mecha focus (besides the above mentioned, I also presented at a panel on Friday about the non-Gundam works of Yoshiyuki Tomino. We have the video and I apologize in advance for my rambling and technical difficulties.)
Alongside the panels, this year’s guest spread was a solid one. Alongside many welcome regulars from the world of dubbing, this year also brought several musical guests as well as representatives from Studio Trigger (incidentally, as interested as I was in seeing the Kiznaiver sneak peek, staying offsite did NOT make a good mix with that 5:3o AM start time…time zones are a cruel mistress.) The highlight for me though, to be perfectly honest, was the appearance of veteran voice actor Toshio Furukawa (known for, among a whole lot of roles: Kai in Gundam, Piccolo in Dragonball Z, Ace in One Piece, Shin in Fist of the North Star…you know what? I could keep going…point is, he’s played a lot of well known characters.) Given Kai has been a personal favorite anime character for me for years, the opportunity to meet the man behind the voice was a huge plus.
Besides the planned aspects, much of this con just continued to be the enjoyable experience I come back for year after year. Give or take the understandable grumblings among many there over the line situations, but steps are being taken and hopefully that won’t be anywhere near as big an issue this time next year.
I apologize that I was nowhere near as linear this time around, but to be honest, with how this one started, it really seemed best to just go point for point on what worked and what didn’t rather than timeline it out. Because the problems were unfortunate, but when this con worked, it worked quite well.
I’m still not quite ready to give the Hynes and Pru a pass on their part of this, but for the staff at Anime Boston, I want to again say my thanks for continuing to do your best for us for another year. Hopefully things go smoother next year and hopefully will see you again.