Kevin Kelly as the car and driver from Initial D
Once again, Anime Boston filled the Hynes Convention Center with cosplayers and fans this past weekend. Of all the cons I go to every year, Anime Boston is the one that is most emphatically a fan con, and while there were industry panels and musical guests, the main attraction was... the fans. It's really all about meetups and cosplay and maybe getting some cheap manga and anime while you're at it. Here's a quick look from ground level.
Hot Manga: The book that was flying off the tables, both at the Kodansha Comics booth and at Comicopia, was "Attack on Titan," which was even outselling "Sailor Moon." The series, which is a top seller in Japan, seems to have gained traction with English-language readers since the anime started streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.
Four Pokemon Evolution cosplayers
Home Sweet Homestuck: Cosplay is Anime Boston's strong suit, and this year's crowd did not disappoint. Homestuck cosplayers were everywhere, and "Adventure Time" was well represented. "Legend of Zelda" cosplayers were legion. And yes, there were anime cosplayers as well, all the usual suspects — "One Piece," "Sailor Moon," "Hetalia" — and a healthy number of "Alice in the Country of Hearts" characters, too.
Anime Boston cosplayers
Dropping Hints: Funimation, Aniplex, Sentai Filmworks, Sunrise, and Kodansha Comics all had panels, and while there weren't any earth-shaking announcements, there were some intriguing tidbits. At the Sunrise panel, company director Masayuki Ozaki told the audience that Sunrise planned to release the titles that were in Bandai Entertainment's library before it folded, and that they are in talks with Sentai and Funimation to distribute them. Ben Applegate of Kodansha Comics said that they have two new shoujo manga licenses, although he wouldn't name them. Sentai Filmworks did have some new anime to announce, including "Science Ninja Team Gatchaman," series 3 of "Haku?ki: Shinsengumi," "Kokoro Connect," and a couple of other new titles and license rescues. Aniplex also had some new anime releases to announce: "Blue Exorcist" and "Sword Art Online," both on DVD and Blu-Ray; in addition, "Sword Art Online" will run on Toonami beginning in August.
Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb
Local Talent: This year's Japanese guests included Director Shinich Watanabe (Nabeshin), producer Shinichiro Kashiwada, and actor and military expert Yasuhiro Koshi, as well as musical guest Yousei Teikoku. Some of the guests didn't have to travel quite as far, however; "Adventure Time" artists Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb were sketching custom covers in the Artists Alley, and local comickers Zack Giallongo ("Broxo") and Bettina Kurkoski ("My Cat Loki") were there as well.
Search Me: Anime Boston is in the Hynes Convention Center, which is just a few blocks from where two bombs went off during the Boston Marathon in April. Not surprisingly, security was heightened compared to previous years; everyone had to submit to a bag check on their way in the door. But that was about it. The Informal Dance was canceled, but that was due to problems at last year's Informal Dance.
Despite that, things seemed to run smoothly, at least on Saturday; there were lines at registration, but there were plenty of staff and volunteers managing them. Also, the Hynes is a great venue for an anime con, as the wide hallways allow cosplayers to stop for photographs without creating too much of a disruption. And props to the Anime Boston organizers for their "Cosplay Is Not Consent" campaign, with signs like this:
In this and many other ways, the organizers set a professional tone that in turn sets up expectations for attendees. Indeed, during the few hours I spent there, everyone seemed to be having a good time—not always a given with comic cons, but a safe bet with Anime Boston.