2007 marked the fifth anniversary of Anime Boston, and over 11,000 fans came out to celebrate with the theme, Matsuri. Hallways at the convention center were decorated like a Japanese festival and included a tree where attendees could hang handwritten notes from the branches. Programing included the Cherry Blossom Ball, which required attendees to dress in formal wear or formally-appropriate cosplay, and gave them the opportunity to attend a ballroom dance lesson prior to the event. Major guests included voice actors Laura Bailey, Greg Ayres, Tom Wayland, Travis Willingham, Troy Baker, Mike McFarland, and Emily and Robert DeJesus. Although the convention moved from the first two floors of the Hynes Convention Center to the top two to allow for more programming space, the change was not as obvious as some had feared; cosplayers and other con attendees still packed the first floor as usual, eating, taking photos, playing games, and hanging about. Although attendance has grown steadily, this year it was felt as long lines for non-masquerade events were commonplace and the Dealer's Room became downright claustrophobic with narrow aisles and heavy traffic.
Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
While we were both is looking forward to Anime Boston this year, we came into the weekend from two very different headspaces; Shiva had a lot of exciting plans she was looking forward to, including having her Advent Children video competing in the AMV contest, rooming with her fun roomies Kitty and Matt, and wearing her new FF7 Shiva costume with Natalie, a cosplayer she has admired for a while. Sketch, meanwhile, had to come to grips the Wednesday before the con that he was not going to finish his Canti costume from FLCL for the second year in a row, forcing him to drop out of the masquerade. He was looking forward to hosting the 18+ Dating Game and finished his Jiraiya costume for it, but it was also the first time he'd hosted any type of event and he was a little nervous. We both arrived at the Sheraton Thursday evening; Sketch was staying with Morlock and after settling in got his art table set up in Artist's Alley. Shiva met up with her roommates and after picking up badges and unpacking, changed into her Rinoa swimsuit and hit up the cosplay swimsuit party at the pool. She had a blast taking photos, playing games, and socializing; it was a fantastic way to kick off the weekend!
Friday morning Sketch went to man his art table while Shiva got into her new Super Sailor Chibimoon costume for Hall Cosplay judging. She was happy with the costume but felt the wig needed more work and was pretty self-conscious about it. After judging she took photos with Bruce O'Bryan who made her feel better about the whole thing before she hit up opening ceremonies and stopped by the Sailor Moon meetup, taking "family" pics with Tuxedo Mask and Super Sailor Moon. That afternoon Shiva wore Dion Rogers' Rinoa for the Kingdom Hearts meetup and had fun meeting some excellent cosplayers roaming the halls, including a Green Ranger from Power Rangers, a marvelous Link and Dark Link from The Legend of Zelda, and a fantastic Valor Sora from Kingdom Hearts II. She also finally got to meet Natalie, who was wearing her Lady Caterina regalia from Trinity Blood; they had a photoshoot planned together for Saturday so it was great to get to know each other ahead of time.
That evening was Anime Boston's first formal dance party, the Cherry Blossom Ball, which we both were interested to check out. Shiva wore her Amano ballroom Rinoa dress and ran into Sketch and RikkuX at the ball photobooth before getting in line for the event with Crazyflower and Leelee. The ball was overwhelmingly popular and as a result, staff had to limit how many people could enter at a time with the line stretching into the adjoining lobby. It took us over an hour to get in, and we heard from others who waited even longer. Once inside we had fun dancing; none of us had ever tried ballroom before, so we took a "fake it 'til we make it" approach. Some partners we danced with did the same while others tried very hard to perform the steps correctly. Sketch and RikkuX danced for a bit while Lyddie and Shiva tore up the floor between partners. Shiva even dragged some poor SeeD uniformed Squall cosplayer out to dance, much to his embarrassment or enjoyment, we weren't sure which.
After having fun at the ball, Sketch and RikkuX headed off to change into Jiraiya and Lady Tsunade for the 18+ Dating Game which Shiva promised to go watch. Before heading upstairs, Shiva stopped at main events as the AMV contest was wrapping up to grab a ballot before getting in line for the dating game. Sketch co-hosted with a Roy Mustang cosplayer, and they had RikkuX as Tsunade and an Orochimaru to help out in between exchanges. While Shiva had been Tifa in the 18+ Dating Game the previous year, Sketch had never even attended the event before, so as a host he focused on figuring out the pacing for the event and when it required the staff to move it along and when to let the participants take the lead. They had a good ensemble of characters to work with, however, and Sketch especially had fun razzing the Sakura from Naruto who was competing for one of the rounds.
Saturday morning Sketch returned to his art table while Shiva got into Ruby and headed to main events to watch the second showing of the AMV contest. She hadn't examined the ballot the night before so she was surprised to see her video was first in the drama category, which meant it opened the contest. That disappointed her a bit, as she figured most people wouldn't vote for the first video and anyone who came late would miss it entirely. Despite that, Shiva thought the drama and action categories were very evenly matched, but Paul's video, "All Along", definitely was a standout for romance. In comedy, "No Reason" also stood out; in it two Mooninites from Aqua Teen Hunger Force blew stuff up to the 1812 Overture in direct reference to the scare earlier this year when Bostonians mistook an Adult Swim publicity campaign for a terrorist attack. Finally, in Upbeat/Other, "Something Wicked This Way Comes" brilliantly transformed the beloved My Neighbor Totoro into a horror film.
Following the show, Shiva handed in her ballot and hit up the large Final Fantasy meetup before walking over to the Christian Science Center for an FF9 specific shoot. Crazyflower's Queen Brahne caused a minor traffic accident when a driver starting at her costume rear-ended the car in front of him as they crossed the street. That afternoon Shiva got into summon Shiva from Final Fantasy VII and met up with Natalie as the summon Phoenix for an awesome photoshoot. Afterwards they stood in the main hall posing for hours while crowds took photos; they were soon joined by Lyddie in her Final Fantasy V version of Shiva and a gorgeous Sorceress Edea cosplayer. With the four of them together they could barely move as attendees kept swarming them until they finally parted ways.
As evening approached, we both headed to main events for the masquerade; as an AMV editor, Shiva got a seat in the center just a few rows back from the stage while Sketch got a good spot stage left, trying to shrug off his disappointment that he had to drop out of participating in the show. With both of us in the audience, we could only judge the masquerade by its performances, but it seemed to be a well-run show this year with a diverse group of skits to enjoy. Standouts included a Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and Wario playing Super Mario Bros. songs on ukuleles, and a fun medley of characters recreating the YATTA dance. A Silent Hill nurses dance skit was especially excellent, with interesting choreography which utilized moves the characters actually perform in the game. The performers also stayed in character when walking on and off-stage, which creeped out the entire audience. The most unforgettable skit of the night, however, was an Anime Boston staff exhibition entry called "Tetris Ninjas." The concept was unbelievably simple - a group of ninjas play Tetris - but with clever sound effects, larger-than-life props, and a great sense of comic timing, it was hysterical.
Once the performances wrapped up, they announced the AMV winners. Shiva was practically sticking her fingers in her ears when they got to the drama category, and was beyond shocked when her video played. She never thought she could win an award at a big contest like Anime Boston, and was completely unprepared when asked to make a speech onstage when accepting the award. After leaving main events, Sketch went out to dinner with friends while Shiva met up with her roommate Matt, who dressed as Space Ghost and getting into all sorts of shenanigans as usual. Finally she went to change, and ended up finding dinner by walking to 7-11 at 1am with several friends in a desperate search for food, which they ended up eating picnic style in the Sheraton lobby.
Sunday morning we were both up bright and early for the Angst vs. Sugar Cosplay Chess match; Sketch was Hohenheim for the cosplot and Shiva was Tifa, serving as the Queen's Rook on the Angst side. Sugar was appropriately led by Starlightslk as Sailor Moon while the Angst Side was captained by Sephygoth as Sephiroth. Main events was packed and the crowd lively; they immediately began chanting "TI-FA! TI-FA! TI-FA!" as Shiva was announced. There were lots of Final Fantasy VII characters on the board for her to interact with; she and Kadaj had a lot of fun giving each other a hard time, and since Sephiroth was technically Tifa's boss as leader of the Angst side, she gave him hell about it. Tifa made it through most of the game until Shiva was eventually taken out in a really great improvised fight scene. Sketch was a little less enthused about doing cosplot, which he felt had become overly complex and hard to follow. Instead, once Shiva finished her part, he mostly hung out with her until it was time for her to go home. Good weekend all around!