Masquerade: Performance Judges
Panelists: Masquerade Best Practices
Brian, Shiva (x3)
Anime Boston's sixteenth year saw over 25,000 fans turn out at the Hynes, which was decked out in interstellar decor to reflect the "To the Stars!" theme. In addition to Japanese and U.S. industry guests, programing included concerts by FLOW, Wada & Williams, and Asaka. In addition to the regular masquerade, VIZ Media hosted its own Sailor Moon-themed cosplay contest with a fashion-show style format and an emcee reading a blurb each cosplayer wrote about how much the show meant to them. Two charity balls - the formal Constellation Ball and the Solar Salsa Semiformal - coupled with a silent auction, raised over $23,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Shiva and Sketch's Weekend Breakdown:
Anime Boston 2018 was a unique experience for several reasons, not the least of which was it was our first con since becoming parents - and the first time we'd been apart from our six-month-old son overnight. After arriving with him in tow Thursday, getting settled, picking up badges, and having a couple of drinks with friends at the hotel lounge, Sketch's parents arrived to take our munchkin home for the weekend. We were excited for the break and yet also absolutely terrified; nobody can fully appreciate the jacked-up-to-11 anxiety that accompanies being a new parent unless they've been through it themselves and it felt almost impossible to turn that feeling off - but we were determined to try. A few more drinks, plus a text that everyone had made it home safely, helped take the edge off.
Friday morning we woke up ridiculously early for a con but late by new parent standards; Shiva held out for 30 minutes of playing it cool before begging Sketch to text his mom to see how things were going, only to find out he'd already caved in and done so. Once reassured everything was fine, we both felt like we could stop worrying for five minutes. Shiva felt lighter than she had in months even as she laced her heavier-than-ever figure into Summoner Belgemine; cosplaying post-partum is not exactly an ego-boost, but she took heart that any of her old costumes fit at all "six months after being the size of a dump truck." The Summoner Squad hit the con floor with Sketch's brand-new Summoner Braska costume to go with our Belgemine, Yuna and Ginnem costumes; we had so much fun with this group!
After dinner we changed into Miku and Jiraiya and headed off to co-host a panel on masquerade skit best practices along with Kiarrens and Frongi. It was really nice to talk about skits from the perspective of a performance judge, discussing what we look for, what drives us crazy, and most importantly, what we aren't going to knock people for. It was also a great opportunity to remind contestants that we are rooting for them - we want everyone to do well. There were some excellent questions, and our favorite part was talking to the people who came up to us afterwards with their skit ideas and we gave them our thoughts on how they might work best in the performance space. We hope some of these skits happen because we were genuinely excited about them.
Saturday Sketch and Majodere wore their Voltron costumes and Shiva wore Princess Serenade from Eternal Sonata which several people recognized! As masquerade judges we reported to main events earlier than usual; the show had been extended to include a mini concert by J-pop idol, Asaka, to which we had front-row seats. She sang an entire set and the crowd went nuts for her; quite a few people had glowsticks and knew the hand motions that went along with her songs, transforming the audience into a choreographed performance that was almost as fun to watch as the singer. Next up was a mini-competition of skits between the AMV staff and the Masquerade staff, followed by a speech from Kiarrens, the masquerade coordinator, during which she asked audience members to stand up as she read out the various ways people participate in fandom, be it cosplaying, video editing, creating fanart, writing fanfic, volunteering at a con, attending a con, etc. By the end of her speech, the entire audience was standing and she reminded everyone that we are "one community united by our love of this crazy genre...and we need to support one another," setting the stage with a positive vibe which continued throughout the rest of the show.
There was a lot of variation to the skits this year with several standout performances. One group did a rap battle as rival Pokémon teams with clever original lyrics that had us laughing. Several groups did serious skits which was a nice change of pace, and there were a number of live-music performances, the highlight being an Izuku cosplayer from My Hero Academia singing an altered version of "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid. Her gorgeous performance brought down the house! It's much more fun giving out awards when we have so many outstanding skits to pick from.
Sunday morning we had a joyful reunion with our baby as Sketch's parents dropped him off at the hotel; they looked a tad worse for the wear from lack of sleep but he was happy as a clam. We dressed him up in a Totoro costume with matching hat and had an enjoyable day exploring the convention with him in tow. Being in such a loud, crowded place didn't seem to phase him one bit and he loved meeting several of our friends who hadn't gotten to see him yet. The entire experience was very surreal; we met performing in Cosplay Chess together at Anime Boston 2006, and we started dating at Anime Boston 2010. If it wasn't for this convention, we likely never would have met, never dated, never gotten married, and certainly wouldn't have all these wonderful people in our lives who are now second family to a baby who very likely would never have existed. It was kind of mind-boggling to contemplate how this silly convention had so completely transformed our lives.
We went out to lunch as a big group and were joking and laughing and passing the baby around when Katy came over from Masquerade HQ; apparently nobody had entered the youth division of the cosplay contest, and they were trying to decide what to do with the trophy as they didn't want to just throw it in the trash. Someone had mentioned our kid was dressed as Totoro and they decided to give it to him. She made a big show of presenting the award to our wide-eyed son who was super excited to play with something shiny. We were all laughing that he was an "award-winning cosplayer" at six months old and that someone should call 4-chan because this contest was totally rigged. Such an amazing weekend all around.