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FB – Let’s Be Friends
The 10th year of the annual Anime Boston Convention has come to a close, and it was the con’s biggest year yet (despite the fact that PAX East was going on at exactly the same time.) For Toonari Post, here’s what happened on the third day including some final impressions of the con overall.
The third day had even less of a crowd than Friday, but there were still a few hundred cheerful people walking around, in and out of costumes, getting their pictures taken, and buying some last-minute merch from the Dealer’s Hall and Artists’ Alley.
The Closing Ceremonies were the main draw for Sunday con-goers, and the lines started forming an hour before the auditorium doors opened at 3pm. There was a skit at the beginning with A-chan and B-kun, the con mascots, followed by a recognition of the volunteers who had been with and helped make the con for the past 10 years.
While the names and pictures of the 10-year volunteers displayed on the projectors, the Gotta Catch ‘em All song from Pokemon began playing, and partway through, everyone started to sing along. There were some guest speakers and videos and finally the Japanese and other guests came out and walked up and down the catwalk to applause.
Before the Closing Ceremonies though, we managed to steal some time in the gaming room down the hall. Here, there were eight retro consoles set up, ranging from Atari to N64. For the first time we really got to sit down and play with, and talk to, some of the other con-goers. It’s amazing how a convention can facilitate such a level of spontaneous friendship between strangers.
We sat down next to a young guy playing Tetris Attack for the SNES and started a two-player game. As we played, almost everyone that walked by us stopped and commented on the game, how it should have had a tournament at the con, how they hadn’t played it in ages but still remembered it from childhood. When we finished with ‘Bomberman,’ we moved on to the next open console.
Next up was ‘Super Bomberman.’ We spent some time and had some fun learning what the special feature of each stage was (and usually got ourselves killed in the process). Ultimately we lost to the computer each time, but we had such a good time playing with one another that it didn’t really matter. As we played, we also extolled the virtues of these old single-button games, where the focus is on strategy, without any complicated controls to get in the way of the goal.
After that, we went over to the N64, which at that moment had no game in it. Fortunately, a girl came over shortly after with a bag of her own N64 games and a group formed to play some classic 4-player games: Mario Kart 64, Mario Party, Super Smash Bros, and so on. Everyone was so genial, it was like being amongst a group of my own friends.
We also managed to get to a few panels, most of them led by guests of the con, rather than staff. They were people who cared passionately about the subjects they wanted to speak about, such as the guy who led the Tokusatsu panel on Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, and (briefly) kaiju such as Godzilla.
He and his friend, who came in a very detailed and convincing Kamen Rider costume, seemed to know the series as deeply and intimately as anyone could. As he spoke about the individual Super Sentai rangers, he did their poses and spoke their names in the deep, dramatic sort of Japanese you hear in those shows.
He had watched all the series, even if they weren’t subtitled, and seemed to identify more with Japan than North America when he spoke. I was also amazed at how vocal the fan-base of these series were. One of the girls in the audience began heckling him when he slighted her favorite season of Kamen Rider; and when prompted, part of the crowd would call out something in Japanese and do a gesture associated with one character or another.
For a first-time visitor to the Anime Boston convention, it sort of had a feeling of Disney World. Kids and adults would come and take pictures with their favorite mascots, visit all the attractions, then go back to the hotel at night. The only difference, though it’s a major one, is that everything at AB comes from the fans themselves. There is very little industry support, aside from the guests and occasional Funimation or Viz panel.
The cumulative effect is that Anime Boston is much more a “community” than big industry conventions like PAX. You may come for the first time wondering what you’ll find–what do you do at an anime convention, watch videos all day?–, and realize you’ve found a community. This is especially true if you’re in high school and have a hard time making friends there. The con is a place where it’s hard for anyone to take themselves too seriously, and the barriers between people come down.
Whether you are into tabletop games like D&D and Magic: The Gathering, or video games, or cosplay, or steampunk, or dancing, or anything else geeky, there is a community at Anime Boston waiting to welcome you like an old friend.
Image Courtesy of pullip_junk