April 8th - 11th, 2004
Boston, Massachusetts

Convention Stats:
Location: Boston Park Plaza Hotel
Event Year: Second
Reported Attendance: 3,656
Theme: "MBTA"
Sketch's Costumes Worn:
Vash the Stampede, Trigun
Sketch's Performances:
Masquerade: Vash Skit
Sketch's Awards:
Best Craftsmanship, Masquerade
Best Performance, Masquerade
Convention Photos:

Photo Credits:
Sketch, AB Staff, Kevin Lillard, AB Staff, Kevin Lillard (x2), AB Staff, Kevin Lillard

After setting a first-year attendance record for North American anime events last year, Anime Boston was already too large for its Park Plaza Hotel location prior to 2004's event, but organizers were unable to move to a larger location until 2005. As a result, Anime Boston staff strove to make the Park Plaza work as best as they could manage for this year's event. An attendance cap for pre-registration was implemented, causing the convention to sell out prior to the weekend with no badges allowed to be sold at the door. To counter this, Anime Boston also moved all vendors and the art show to the Castle at Park Plaza, a separate building across the street which was accessible to those with full convention badges, but also permitted Castle-only badge sales on site. While the convention was certainly crowded, and the narrow, complex floor plan and antiquated elevator system did not help matters, Anime Boston ran smoothly and avoided any potential shut-down by public safety officials. Guests included Robert and Emily DeJesus, Monica Rial, Crispin Freeman, and Lauren Goodnight, and events programing ran the gamut from industry panels and cosplay contests to extensive fan-run panel programing; Anime Boston even attempted to alleviate masquerade crowding by broadcasting the contest on the Park Plaza's closed-circuit TV channel, allowing attendees to watch in their hotel rooms. Anime Boston was well-run despite the drawbacks of its location; with its sophomore year success, it is clear that there is high demand for Anime Boston as an event and it will be interesting to see how Anime Boston grows in attendance and scope as it expands into a larger space.

Sketch's Weekend Breakdown:
Shiva was disappointed once again that her college theater performance schedule conflicted with Anime Boston weekend, so she was unable to attend for the second time. Meanwhile, I had been bitten by the cosplay bug at Anime Boston 2003, and was determined to cosplay officially for the first time at Anime Boston 2004. I spent the months leading up to the weekend making Vash the Stampede, and signed up to compete in the masquerade as extra motivation to make sure I completed it. By Thursday, my costume was done, though in what would become a bad habit over the years, I had yet to try any of it on. As a college student, I decided to forgo getting a hotel room at the Park Plaza and instead was crashing at a friend's college apartment in the city with several other people who were going to the con. None of the others were cosplaying, but they were fascinated as I unpacked all the pieces of the Vash costume and interested to see how it was all going to come together.

Friday morning I got into Vash and discovered the just how uncomfortable cosplaying can be; the armor dug into my shins and I was wearing contacts for the very first time which took more getting used to than I anticipated. Riding the subway in costume with nobody else dressed strangely was also a new and slightly unnerving experience with everyone staring at me, especially when I was trying to conceal my prop weapon in public. As soon as we entered the Park Plaza, however, the reaction to my costume was completely night and day from the subway ride, as it seemed like everyone in the lobby wanted to stop me for photos. I was trapped for a good 30 minutes as the cameras went off before I could make it to registration with the rest of my group to pick up our badges. We then explored the convention, which had an odd layout at the antiquated Park Plaza. I explored the Artist's Alley, were I got to talking to a lot of the artists, swapping stories about being a college art student. I also checked out the Funimation announcement panel, where the dude running it obnoxiously highjacked half the time to complain about his ex-girlfriend, who happened to be from Boston.

That afternoon I checked into masquerade headquarters, where I gave them the sound for my walk-on. The coordinator asked what I was going to do, and when I explained I had music and gunshot sound effects and was going to react to them, the coordinator determined the walk-on was "elaborate" and I was bumped into the skit category. Craftsmanship judging also took place then and there; my costume was looked over by three judges, one of whom thoroughly inspected my work and noted the real metal accents, including the screws on my boots and armor. On my way out I had my photos taken by Kevin Lillard, the staple photographer of the con scene at that time. Finally I found my group and we headed across the intersection to the "castle" building, where Anime Boston had moved its art show and dealer's room this year. It was about a 10 to 15 minute wait to get into the castle, but once inside the vendors were in a large open space that was much nicer than their setup at the Plaza the year before. I browsed a bit, but made it a point to visit the Gundam kit booth, determined to buy a couple of kits and give the model building hobby a try. That evening I made it a point to go to the AMV contest, which I had really enjoyed last year, before returning to the apartment for the night.

Saturday I got back into costume for the masquerade and returned to the Park Plaza. There were a lot more people Saturday, so I spent most of my morning wandering and checking out costumes. That afternoon I reported to main events for the show, where the coordinator checked us in and organized all of the contestants in the balcony. I was about halfway in the lineup, and once they seated the audience, I looked over the balcony to find my friends. I saw them and waved, and they waved back. Several people seated around them noticed, and before I knew it, half the audience was screaming and pointing for "Vash." It was wild, and I hadn't even gone onstage yet! The show moved along pretty quickly; there weren't many skits, so I could see why they were eager to turn my walk-on into a skit. I went on and did my performance which got a great reaction from the crowd; it also really made me realize how much I missed performing, which I hadn't done since high school.

At the end of the show, the coordinator picked us out for awards and ask me to hang back after I got mine as I was getting more than one. I was shocked to get both Best Individual Craftsmanship and Best Performance, awards which also surprisingly came with several bags of prizes, including a DVD player/karaoke machine. After the masquerade let out, my friends headed back to the apartment with my swag while I hung around more for the evening, socializing and enjoying my win. I got free pizza, made new friends, and hit up the dance. I was so unused to being the center of attention and suddenly I felt like a social butterfly in this new environment before walking back to the apartment late that night. I didn't attend the con Sunday and returned to school completely exhausted. I had such an amazing weekend, and all I could think was how am I going to top this experience next year?