Anime Boston 2008

Boston, MA, USA. March 21st – 23rd.
Reporter(s): Kuroi

Anime Boston
 was (not-so) affectionately referred to as Line-Con 2008 this year, and I’d have to agree. As this was my first year attending Anime Boston, I had to take it on the word of staff and other attendees that last year’s registration and pre-registration lines weren’t the 10-hour monstrosities that wound throughout the halls this year. While the pre-reg line didn’t quite reach the 10 hours that the regular registration line did, my friend and I did stand in line for about 5 hours on Friday afternoon worrying the entire time whether or not we’d make it to this panel, or that gathering, or even in time to visit the Dealer’s Room before it closed.Once we were out line, however, we were faced with a million others. Lines for The Pillows concert, lines for the masquerade, lines for the dealer’s room — you name it, there was a line for it. I think the only thing that didn’t have a line, surprisingly enough, was the bathroom. These lines wound all about the convention center. Wherever you looked there were people sitting against a wall in line rarely moving until right before an event, which oftentimes started over five hours after the attendees began lining up.The events, however, were definitely worth the wait. Seeing The Pillows live was an amazing experience, even if an untimely trip to the restroom landed me in the upper stage right balcony of the main events hall. The entire hall was completely filled with sound and energy, and I’m sure echoes of the concert could be heard all throughout the convention center. I was honestly amazed that during the concert people could keep their seats instead of joining the majority of people bouncing around with songs like “Crazy Sunshine” or “Hybrid Rainbow,” made famous to the otaku scene by Gainax’s FLCL.One thing about Anime Boston that surprised me was how ongoing it is. Now, I don’t just mean that the same people go every year, but rather that events carry on from year to year. There’s an AB tradition called “Catch the Barrel” which has evolved into a full plot for the entire con. It pits Shinigami versus Ninjas versus Alchemists, and now versus School Clubs (a.k.a. Bleach vs. Naruto vs. Fullmetal Alchemist vs. Ouran and Haruhi Suzumiya cosplayers). The game is absolutely intertwined into the con as the rivalry is played out during the larger panels like the Anime Dating Game and Cosplay Chess. Even the Masquerade pre-show was crashed by the main players that, from what I gathered, were chosen through applications online. While this was slightly amusing to watch, it really seemed to exclude the cosplayers who chose not to cosplay from these series but who still would’ve wanted to participate. Thus, the diversity of cosplay was lower than would be expected for a con of AB’s size. Of course, if you looked, there was still a good amount of series represented.Another great thing about AB is the location. The convention center is connected to a large shopping center filled with great restaurants and a food court, thus eliminating the hassle of over-priced convention center food. There is also a T-station (the Boston light rail system) incredibly close by with a myriad of other shops, which was great for convenience if something was forgotten, though certainly increased the confusion for non-con-goers.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad experience. There were too many lines, and the organization of staff left quite a bit to be desired. There were quite a few times when I was in line and asked questions that should have been easily answered, but no one seemed to know the answers. However, the quality of the events themselves was excellent. The Pillows were fantastic and the masquerade was good even if the quality seemed to be down from previous years. 

I’d probably go again if not for the fact that the organizers are moving it from their usual March dates to Memorial Day weekend (a.k.a. the weekend of a million cons) and there are at least two other cons that are higher on my list that will coincide with Anime Boston. However, if you’re in the Boston area during Memorial Day weekend, I’d recommend checking it out. The staff promised better line control and registration for next year, and if they have the same quality of guests, it should be a fun time.