Anime Boston's seventeenth year celebrated spring in feudal Japan with the theme "Tales of the Shogunate." Just under 26,000 attendees turned up at the Hynes, many decked out in their best kimono attire. Programming made an additional effort to focus on Japanese cultural and historical panels, such as Onna Bugeisha: The Woman Warriors of Japan. In addition to Japanese and U.S. industry guests, program highlights included an orchestral concert with Yoko Shimomura, most famous for composing the music from Kingdom Hearts, and the English dub premiere of the Code Geass movie. Two charity dances - the formal Imperial Ball and the East vs. West Coast Swing Semiformal - coupled with a silent auction, raised over $25,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
We arrived Thursday evening with a car packed to the gills, and, unlike last year, without a baby in tow or the accompanying emotional anxiety of leaving him with Sketch's parents for the weekend. They aren't kidding about that separation thing getting easier with time and practice! The pre-req line was non-existent, however strangely the line to check into the Sheraton Hotel snaked around the whole lobby. We waited somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes to check in, and it was unclear why as this hadn't been an issue in the past. The Sheraton staff seemed prepared, however, and were handing out snacks to those waiting in the line. Soon enough we were settled in, and enjoyed dinner and drinks out at a hole-in-the-wall pub down the street with the crew.
Friday morning we got Shiva into her Kaoru kimono from Kenshin to go along with the feudal theme; Sketch was getting better at helping wrangle her into it each time and this attempt took under an hour. Sketch wore his Hyrule Warriors/Assassin's Creed Link, and we enjoyed spending the morning wandering around the convention. The security lines moved quickly, and the staff checking the metal detectors and bags were friendly and efficient.
We enjoyed seeing so many classic anime cosplays which people had brought out for the Shogunate theme, and Shiva had fun posing with the life-size cutout of Kenshin in the hallway. The one drawback to the morning is the con was unusually hot; it was worst in the dealer's room and artists' alley but it could be felt everywhere. The areas weren't crowded and it was a typically cool spring day in Boston, so it was clear that the HVAC system was malfunctioning somehow. We were sweating our brains out in our multi-layered costumes and Shiva's okobo were killing her feet so we called it quits in the early afternoon to change and take a break.
That evening we changed into much comfier costumes; Shiva, Majodere, and Scarlet wore their Vocaloid kimonos and Sketch wore his Org XIII jacket from Kingdom Hearts. We grabbed an early dinner so we could hit up Anime Unscripted and the full AMV contest without having to leave early to eat; Anime Unscripted was hilarious as always and the AMV contest had some outstanding entries. Shiva hadn't gotten her video entry in this year, and was totally unsurprised when she was blown away by how amazing all the finalists were. Our favorite was "Happy Little Clouds," an art-themed video set to an auto-tuned remix of painter Bob Ross' famous phrases. We spent our night in the gaming room; Sketch and Scarlet had a blast going head to head on the Super NES while Shiva and Majodere got a workout with one of the virtual dance games they set on "expert" and immediately regretted it.
Saturday we were judging the masquerade along with Chinako, so we got into our Lulu and Vash costumes early so we'd have time to enjoy the con for the morning before heading to main events. Several members of the The Patriots football team showed up that morning to check out the con and grab some swag; the current Superbowl champs had formed an anime club amongst their players and it was fun to see them come out to support their local con and talk about their favorite shows. Before we knew it it was time for the masquerade; Katy had warned us earlier in the weekend that her co-emcee for the masq, Roadie, had experienced a medical emergency and wouldn't be able to make it to the con. They had enough warning to incorporate his absence into the storyline of the show, but Roadie is so beloved and has been the main host for so long that she was really nervous about carrying the show herself and the audience's reaction to Roadie not being there. She needn't have worried; the setup to hand her the reins onstage worked and the audience was incredibly supportive.
The show itself had a great variety of skits to choose from this year; our favorites included a large Love, Live! group which had well-executed, clean staging and dialog which we awarded first place Intermediate, and a clever, funny, and well-acted Fire Emblem skit which we gave first place Master's. A hilarious solo skit called "Majima's Construction" had us laughing out loud at the Yakuza boss and earned Shiva's Judge's Award, while the same group who had entered excellent, hilarious skits as performance-only for several years in a row entered this year's My Hero Academia skit in craftsmanship as well, finally allowing us to award them Best In Show. Despite the humor which dominated the show, some of the biggest stand out moments were serious; a Princess Tutu cosplayer did a variation of "The Dying Swan" choreography by Mikhail Fokine en pointe that was so beautifully danced Shiva had tears running down her face, and a cosplayer whom we'd seen enter numerous times before with somewhat mediocre performances brought her A-game this year with a heartfelt solo lip synch of an emotional song accompanied by skillful and artistically well-done sign language - the combination of which was unbelievably moving. After the show the crew met up back in the room for our traditional pizza, PJs, cheesecake and Switch games party, which lasted late into the night.
Sunday Sketch's parents dropped our 18-month-old son off and we were happy to be reunited; we had made him a Toadstool costume to go with Shiva's Princess Daisy, and several of our other friends were wearing their Super Mario Bros. costumes to join in on the fun as well. Sketch decided just to be cosplay wrangler for the day so he could wear regular clothes and be more fully in control of our now highly-mobile kid in a jam-packed crowd environment. Our son hadn't seemed super interested in wearing his mushroom hat at home so we didn't expect to get much mileage of him cosplaying, but as soon as people started waving and smiling at him and asking to take pictures, he wore it like a champ and would even say "Hat! Hat!" for us to fix it when it fell off. He walked around with us happily for most of the day, dancing to the music playing at the dealer's room booths, checking out all the plushies; he even let us do a studio shoot in Cosplay HQ with our friends. By late afternoon the weekend was catching up with us and we called it quits; we changed into regular clothes and grabbed some lunch at Wagamama with friends. We ordered our son a bowl of rice and he was determined to try and eat it with chopsticks, which was hysterical. Overall it was a wonderful weekend and so much fun to share it with our friends and now more fully with our family!