For the past several years Anime Boston has been my favorite Anime convention. With AB 2013 over, I can easily say that the trend continues. Anime Boston is an annual fan run convention held at the Hynes Convention center in Boston. It’s the 5th largest Anime convention in North America, and the second largest on the east coast behind Otakon. I used to love going to Otakon back in the day, but Otakon became too corporate and took the fun out of everything. By keeping things fan run, it has allowed AB to continue featuring more adult based content, and events that Otakon tossed aside years ago.
Thursday my friends and I did the Pre-Registration badge pickup which literally took minutes compared to other cons where it takes hours. Other cons need to look at what AB is doing and copy their strategy and efforts. The only way it could have been less painful is if they mailed the badges out ahead of time.
Friday we started the morning out with Anohana: The Flower we saw that day, which was an interesting anime about a group of high schooler’s that had separated as kids after a tragic accident. They slowly start to come back together and deal with the guilt and tragedy of the event in their own way. This is probably in my top 3 for everything I watched the whole weekend. Check this out! Anohana is available to stream through Crunchyroll.
I checked out the Artists Alley and dealer’s room for a bit. Both of which unfortunately didn’t have as much as they usually do because Fanime Con was happening the same weekend in San Jose, so many vendors/artists that are based on the west coast that would normally come out to AB, decided to go to Fanime instead. That being said, the Artist Alley was laid out well with plenty of space, and a few surprises like a pirate board game based on Dominoes.
Later Friday we checked out Tiger & Bunny. I know the name suggests a cutesy anime theme, but it’s anything but. In the future there are people with Super Powers called NEXT’s. The heroes wear the uniforms of their sponsor just like a NASCAR driver, as they compete to save other people’s lives while being broadcast on TV. It’s a pretty crazy concept but it works really well. It has the right blend of comedy and action to keep you entertained. This was also in my top 3 for the weekend (Friday was a good day!). Tiger & Bunny is available to stream on Hulu.
Later we checked out a few episodes of Bodacious Space Pirates. This was my first stinker of the con. The lead heroine’s father was a space pirate who just died, and she inherits his ship and his pirate’s license (because for some reason piracy is sanctioned by the government). She decides to follow in her father’s footsteps to see what it’s like in outer space. This show just wasn’t my cup of tea. I think it was probably made for the Sailor Moon crowd, but I’m not even sure they would like this. It just felt a bit too generic. Bodacious Space Pirates is available to stream on Hulu.
One of the last anime I checked out Friday was Waiting in the Summer. It’s about this high school kid getting his friends together to make a student film. Meanwhile crazy things he’s not quite sure about start happening around him. This anime was reminiscent of the movie Super 8 where kids try to make their own movie, and an Alien interrupts their life.. Unfortunately I was super tired and wound up nodding off throughout the series so I can’t really give a good opinion of it. This wasn’t due to the series being poor or anything. I was just insanely tired from running around. I need to give this another serious try later. Thankfully, Waiting in the Summer is available to stream on Hulu.
To round out Friday we had the AMV (Anime Music Video) contest which was full of really good entries. In previous years I had trouble sitting through some categories because they were long and boring, but even the Drama and Romance categories were pretty decent. My one criticism with this is that I feel like they shoved some entries where they didn’t belong in order to spice things up. There were a few entries in the Romance, and Drama categories that I felt didn’t belong. The list of entrants and winners is available here, along with links to download the AMV’s for yourself.
Saturday I unfortunately started off my day with Phi-Brain: Puzzle of the Gods. It’s supposed to be a show about High Schooler’s solving tough puzzles and challenging each other. I thought this was going to be a smart intelligent anime, but it felt more like Pokémon/Digimon. I left before the end of the second episode. They really dropped the ball with this Anime. Phi-Brain is available to stream through Hulu.
Afterwards I wandered around and took some amazing cosplay pictures which you will hopefully be seeing on our site soon (shakes fist at Mannix). Some people put some serious work into their costumes. I was surprised by some of the Attack on Titan cosplay I saw since the show is relatively new, with only 7 episodes having aired at the time of the con. I saw at least 4 different people cosplaying characters from the show. One of the people I was rolling around the convention with was dressed up as the Ice King from Adventure Time. He was constantly mobbed for photos and hugs from a lot of friendly people.
One of the great things I love about this con is the con goers. For the most part they have all been fun and friendly. At some conventions there have been some hostile con goers or hostile overbearing staff, but everyone here was pretty chill. The only thing that was a bit different this year was the bag check. Due to the tragic events of the Boston Marathon which took place within blocks of the convention center, the City of Boston implemented a bag check for anyone going into the Hynes. This surprisingly didn’t disrupt traffic flow in and out of the con. It added an extra minute or 2 during normal times and I had to wait about 10 minutes at the peak of the convention on Saturday. All in all the city did a great job at protecting con goers while making it fairly painless.
Later I checked out Children Who Chase Lost Voices which was the third of my top 3 for the weekend. This anime film was done in the style of a Miyazaki film. While watching the movie I even told someone that it was obviously a Miyazaki film, and now I feel like a dumbass. Instead it’s done by Makoto Shikai who did 5 Centimeters per Second several years ago. This anime is about a girl that feels lost in our world searching for something else. She stumbles across a person that ultimately leads her to a hidden magical world within our world where the dead can be brought back to life. It’s a pretty good movie, with a few minor plot holes that can be overlooked. Children Who Chase Lost Voices is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
I tried watching Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc, but I couldn’t sit through more than 10 minutes of the dub. I feel like I need to give the sub a chance, but I’m not holding out much hope. This is a retelling of the famed Kyoto story arc, where Kenshin sets out to stop Shishio. It condenses down that entire story arc into one movie. I can’t imagine how this can possibly be done effectively but I’m willing to give it a chance. Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Next I went to see Blood-C which is another series in the Blood story universe. It’s was a bit too campy for my taste. Also the animation style is drastically different from the previous Blood anime. It’s a shame because I really liked Blood and Blood +. I was hoping Blood C would have proven to be just as interesting. I have zero interest in looking for more of this series. Blood-C is available to stream through Hulu.
Later that night I checked out Zetman which is about a kid named Jin whom unbeknowns to him was bio engineered to have super powers by a man he thinks is his grandfather. His grandfather at one point was a scientist that created Zet for a shady company. At this point in the series I’m not entirely sure if Zet is Jin, or if it is something in Jin that gives him his powers. Jin’s Grandfather steals Zet/Jin and goes into hiding pretending and pretends to be a bumb, all the while, teaching Jin how to be responsible with his abilities. Meanwhile the company is looking for the Zet to abuse its power. Jin winds up staying hidden for years until he’s high school aged, and is now using his powers for good. Its’ a decent series that I might watch more of, but I could honestly take it or leave it. Since its only 13 episodes I might go back and check the rest of it out. Zetman is available to stream through Hulu.
Finally on Saturday I checked out a few episodes of Kamisama Dolls. I admittedly missed a good chunk of this so I wouldn’t be the best person to ask about the series, but I honestly wasn’t impressed by what I saw. The series is about a girl that left a small town to escape the crazy rules the town had in place. The people of the town have crazy abilities where they control giant dolls with powerful abilities that some view as Gods. After starting a life in Tokyo some people from her village come to bring her back and chaos ensues. I was hoping for more, but I just couldn’t get into it. Kamisama Dolls is available to stream through Crunchyroll.
After I was done with all of the viewing programming I headed up to the Video Game room where they had roughly 30 or so modern consoles setup playing various types of games. Most of the popular games were either FPS games, or fighters based on Anime titles. They also had 1 or 2 large DDR arcades, and a few Dance Central 3 Kinect setups. Video games are a large part of an anime convention, even if you don’t go to the video game room. Hundreds of people bring their 3DS with them in order to gain street passes. I’d estimate that I street passed about 300 different people during the convention. Some of which I passed 4 or 5 times, excluding the people that I went to the convention with. Before the convention started I needed several whole boards for Puzzle Swap, but with all of the Street Passes I completed all but one of them and on that one, I only need 2 pieces. My friends and I scoured the con floor for the last day but no one seemed to have the pieces we wanted . . . le sigh.
On Sunday the last thing I watched for the convention was [C] – Control – The Money and Soul of Possibility. This started a bit weak, but I was super interested by the time I was done. Japan had gone through a recession, and the Sovereign Wealth Fund rescued it. Now the bank makes loans with people for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but if you accept the money you have to compete gladiator style against other people who have taken out loans. It may sound kind of funky, but it wound up being pretty god. Its only 11 episodes so it’s a pretty short series I plan on continuing soon. [C] – Control is available to stream through Hulu.
For the remainder of the con I wandered the dealer’s room and Artist Alley again looking for last minute deals on anything cool. Usually Sunday’s at Anime cons are deal days, but there weren’t too many good deals this time. I usually love picking up T-shirts and from conventions because you just don’t see them anywhere else. I just couldn’t part with my cash to pick it up.
Anime Boston in my opinion is the premiere Anime Con to go to if you are on the east coast. Aside from great video programming, their use of social media is also impressive. They use one of my favorite convention apps Guidebook to keep everything up to date. If something changes in the con schedule, they immediately update Guidebook so you don’t miss out. AB also made great deals with the convention hotels for lower rates, and free wi-fi. If you have a chance next year, and you live on the east coast check out Anime Boston 2014 March 21-23.