January 16th - 19th, 2015
Boston, Massachusetts

Convention Stats:
Location: Westin Boston Waterfront
Event Year: Twenty-Sixth
Reported Attendance: 4,010
Sketch's Costumes Worn:
Godric Gryffindor, Harry Potter
Richard Castle, Castle
Shiva's Costumes Worn:
Madoka Kaname, Madoka Magica
VICI the Robot, Small Wonder
Planet Neptune, Original Design
Shiva's Performances:
Masquerade: "The Planets"
Shiva's Awards:
Best In Show, Craftsmanship
Best Master Performance, Masquerade
Convention Photos:

Photo Credits:
Sketch (x4), Christa, Shiva (x3)

Arisia is New England's largest and most diverse science fiction and fantasy convention, named for a planet in the Lensman novels by E. E. "Doc" Smith. Over 4,000 fans braved Boston's subzero winter temperatures to attend the twenty-sixth annual Arisia convention over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend 2015. The fan-run convention covers a wide span of genres but maintains a solid focus on literary-based science fiction and fantasy, hosting literary guests, a writing contest, and panels such as "Did You Know That Was Based on a Book?" The age range among Arisia attendees tends to older than most cons, and as a result, specially designed programming for children and families is extensive. Other programing included historical demonstrations in costuming and fighting techniques, gaming and crafting, art contests, dances, and a costuming masquerade for cosplayers of all ages, genres, and skill sets. Finally, Arisia is a very social event; not only is discussion its main focus during the day, but at night convention-sanctioned room parties hosted by various organizations and clubs serve as opportunities to meet new people and make friends with similar interests.

Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
With some encouraging from friends we decided to casually attend Arisia after Shiva was recruited by Ellystar to replace a last minute dropout in her Planet skit Sunday night. We commuted from home for the day on both Saturday and Sunday, wearing one costume each day. Saturday we got into Madoka and Godric Gryffindor at home before driving into the city, and arrived at the hotel in the late afternoon. It was a little confusing figuring out where to pick up our badges, but once we found the right location it took all of two minutes to do so. Ellystar and Cimerone joined us as Homura and Mami and Sketch took a few photos of the Madoka group before we started to wander the con. Since Arisia is mainly a sci-fi/comic convention, the Madoka Magica costumes were unusual and surprisingly got a lot of attention. One girl in a Star Wars costume was really interested in the show, while another girl was halfway through the series and told us her theories about what was going to happen. . . which we tried really hard not to confirm or deny.

That evening we attended a costuming party in Ellystar’s suite hosted by the Northern Lights Costumers' Guild. Christa had her photography equipment set up so we could get photos of all the costumes that showed up. One girl we photographed had a silver ballgown she had hand-painted circuitry all over, and had an LED hoopskirt, a video screen chest corset, and a back that lit up to the touch. We also hung out for a bit with Cosplay Mom, and Shiva got chatting with one of the guys from Barfleet who knew all about the Legion of Super Heroes, geeking out over Silver Age comics.

Sunday Sketch wore his Richard Castle costume and Shiva wore VICI from Small Wonder for the morning before changing for the masquerade. Shiva hadn’t planned on competing, but several of our friends were doing a skit which was made up of all the Planets and their Neptune had to drop out a week before. When we arrived for the day, Shiva quickly ran off to accompany the group to rehearsal. Usually, if a rehearsal exists at all for a con masquerade, it is just to give the tech crew the chance to know when to press play on the group's recording, but here the lighting crew actually mapped out lighting affects to compliment the fabric and colors of the group's costumes, which they didn't have to wear but had to bring with them. Staff also read their script live rather than made the group pre-record it, so the announcer practiced a few times to time it to their music.

After rehearsal we met up with friends and several people noticed Shiva was VICI and shouted “Small Wonder!” and high-fived her as they passed by. We checked out the Art Show and dropped in on a panel about bad science that was in the news this past year, which was interesting. Arisia is built around discussion-based panel programing, where instead of panel hosts volunteering to present a lecture/Q&A format on a topic of their own design, volunteers submit lists of topics which they feel comfortable conversing about to the programming staff, who then assigns the volunteers to discussion panels with other topic-knowledgeable people. The panelists are then let loose to cover such controversial topics as science, religion, and politics, which makes for a lively discussion.

That evening the girls got ready in Ellystar's suite and then checked into the masquerade at 6. The green room was a full-size meeting room, with comfy chairs organized into “dens” in the order of the performances. Each den had a “den mother” who was in charge of getting water, repair supplies, food, watching purses and things, and making sure the group went onstage on time. A large table in the middle of the room had fruit and crackers with wheels of Brie and Camembert cheese. In one corner, a backdrop was set up for the official photographer to take group photos, and in the other corner was craftsmanship judging. In the front was a platform with a huge video screen displaying a live feed from the ballroom so we could watch the show in comfort. This was AWESOME. It took a lot of the stress of competing in the masquerade out of the picture with everything all in one place.

The show started at 8 and all of the children under 12 performed first, after which they gave out the youth awards so the kids could leave. Then they did the adult performances, which zoomed by; most masquerades have a 3 minute limit, but with a 50 second cutoff they blew through almost 30 entries in under an hour. The planet skit went perfectly; when Scarlet came running out as Pluto, hamming it up waving and grinning, everyone just loved it. When she sadly slunk offstage the crowd collectively let out a vocal “Awwww.” The performances wrapped up around 9PM and we were very impressed with the masquerade experience up until this point.

However, then we waited for the awards. And waited. And WAITED. We were tired, HUNGRY, everyone's feet hurt, contacts and wigs needed removing, etc. FINALLY they announced the winners at 11PM?! UGH. The skit received Best Performance in the Master Division, and then also won Best In Show for craftsmanship. Ellystar was in tears she was so excited, and we were excited for her since this was her skit and her idea and it meant a lot to her! However we couldn't wait to change and get the heck out of there at that point; it was also way too late fo find food anywhere so we had to wait until we got home after midnight to eat anything. Despite how annoyed we felt at that point, however, we could see returning again as the con itself was different and seemed to have some interesting programming. However, if we ever compete again we're getting dinner BEFORE the awards.