This year I spent my Easter weekend up in New England, at a very special event — Anime Boston (hereafter referred to as AB). This is a convention held in Boston that is devoted to the appreciation of Japanese media and pop culture. It’s run by the New England Anime Society, and has been held annually since 2003 and it. is. HUGE. It’s not quite big enough to fill the massive convention center where the famous PAX East is held, but in 2017 there were nearly 26,000 attendees throughout the whole weekend.
It’s crazy to think that it’s been eight years since my first AB in 2011. I missed a few years between then and now, but this year was my fifth time attending. Some people, like some of my friends, go to multiple conventions in a year, but AB is the only one I go to. There are other conventions that look cool (like MAGFest!), but they’re either super far away and have hotels that get booked up super fast, or are waaaay larger than I’m comfortable with (coughNYComicConcough).
AB is large enough that there’s almost always something interesting going on, or cool things to go look at. I really enjoy going to panels and getting my education on. They always schedule a wide variety of topics, and as soon as I get the convention schedule I fill it up with circles to highlight the panels that have caught my eye. I keep an eye out for panels about things I already really love. For instance, Revolutionary Girl Utena is my favorite anime, and Froborr’s panel about it this year was FANTASTIC. I’ve been to other panels of hers in past years, and her analysis is always really good and enlightening!
I also always circle panels about things that I know nothing, or only a little about, but which sound interesting. This year in this area of things, I went to a panel talking about the different types of visual kei bands, one about various Japanese composers (beyond just anime composers), and one about the history of ninjas and how media gets them wrong. This panel was a major highlight for me — the presenter was really animated and entertaining, on top of really knowing their shit!
I’d also marked up my schedule with panels about Japanese folklore, history, and culture; panels about famous creators like Studio Ghibli and Osamu Tezuka (one of my favorite guys); and panels hosted by voice actors. And also a panel on Japanese professional wrestling leagues, which I was super intrigued by when I saw it on the schedule. But I obviously didn’t get to go to all of these panels — sometimes multiple cool things are scheduled at the same time (or at weirdly early or late times), and also in the last couple of years I’ve found that something that really helps my happiness and energy level over the course of the weekend is making sure to take plenty of breaks.
These breaks were most often in the form of sitting on the floor in some corner to scroll Twitter on my phone, but this year I also found myself going back to my room every day at around 3pm to have a rest from all the crowds and noise. This is one of the two big things that made me feel super elderly during the weekend. The other one was overhearing two girls talk about my first anime like it was one of the oldest things ever; I originally watched it around 13 years ago. I have rarely felt so ancient in all of my 27 years, lol.
When I go to AB, I also spend a good chunk of time wandering around the Dealer’s Hall and Artist Alley to fritter my spending money away. If you’re unfamiliar with the terms — the Dealer’s Hall is where vendors sell various official merchandise, while the Artist Alley is filled with fan artists and other small scale craftspeople. I didn’t buy too many things for myself this year, mostly just birthday presents for my friends. But I did get this nice notebook from Maya Kern, and this gorgeous Utena print from Etherelle. I also splurged just a tiny bit on this Rise figure because my love for Persona 4: Dancing All Night knows no bounds.
But more important than what I get to learn or see at AB is who I get to experience it with. AB is the one guaranteed time of year that I get to see my New England friends! I met some of these friends in college, while others are convention friends that I made through my college friends. We all chip in money to get a hotel room together. All things considered we don’t really spend that much time together during the weekend because we all have different interests when it comes to panels, but it’s nice to have friendly faces to go to dinner with at the end of the day and talk about the things we’ve seen and done at the con in between catching up on our lives at home like we’ve spent no time apart. They’re all very good people. ❤
There are a couple of other convention-related things that I’d like to talk about, like my history with cosplay, or what I consider to be convention essentials, but this post is already starting to get a little long, so I’ll mark those down as post ideas for later!
Do you have any events like this that you enjoy going to? Or would you be interested in going to a convention like this? (I bet a lot of you would say you’d want to go to NYCC or SDCC, but I have the opposite of interest in those just based on their size, lol.)
(PS: These didn’t really fit in anywhere else in the post, but I just really wanted to share these hilarious Gakuen Handsome keychains I found in the Dealer’s Hall. It’s a media property where the characters are intentionally drawn horribly, lmao. Here’s a trailer!)