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June 6, 2013

Anime Boston 2013 Convention Review and Pictorial

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A few Fridays ago, on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, I hit up Anime Boston to kick off my holiday right. With camera in hand, I roamed the hallways collecting photographs of well-dressed cosplayers, and soaked in everything this now-seasoned convention had to offer this now-seasoned convention-goer. Anime Boston and I grew up together. Ten years ago, I attended the first Anime Boston, back when it was in a small hotel on the other side of the city. Since then, I have been back every single year, and both the convention and myself have done a lot of changing in that time. Anime Boston has grown to be the area’s largest anime convention, drawing tens of thousands of attendees from all over the east coast. I invite you to look at some pretty cosplays while I give you the run-down on this con.

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Let’s start with the basics, beginning with parking. Considering that the convention takes place in the crowded city of Boston, Anime Boston does have plenty of parking available within walking distance of the convention. This year, parking was a little more challenging than normal because of the holiday weekend combined with sports games. Nevertheless, I was able to park right across the street as usual. Parking is a little pricey, and the convention does not validate parking, but you can get validation from the Prudential Mall or one of the hotel parking garages if you are staying in that hotel. This eases the burden some, but requires additional effort.

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The Hynes convention center is a great place to have a convention on a sunny day, with its wide bright hallways and an outdoor courtyard. However, the gloomy weather seen by this year’s convention made the center look exceptionally gray, and lighting cosplay photos was a bit challenging. This year, we saw a huge increase in convention security due to recent events in the city. To no one’s surprise, the convention had dozens of police and extra security on staff. All bags were inspected upon entering the convention center, and the weapons policy was more strict than ever. There were bomb-sniffing dogs on hand and random hallway badge checks (something that I haven’t seen before at this con).

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Both the Hynes convention center staff and the Anime Boston staff were as pleasant as always despite the extra work required to maintain a higher level of security. I always find the staff at this convention to be cheery, helpful, and sympathetic to everyone’s desire to have a good time.

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Anime Boston is known for having more cosplayers than any other New England convention, and this year was no different. As far as NE conventions go, Anime Boston is the only one where more people attend in costume than those who do not. An as usual, the cosplays were a spectacle to behold. If you’re looking to meet some truly talented individuals, AB is a good place to look.

This year I did not personally find that many panels or main events that struck my interest. As far as main events go, they’ve been putting on the same show for the past ten years with the same main acts, and the same punch lines. I did not feel compelled to attend any of them. My lack of interest in the panels, I blame on the changing age range of the convention. As I grow older, the attendees of Anime Boston seem to get younger and younger, and much of the entertainment is of course geared towards this audience. I don’t see anything wrong with this younger programming, especially since the convention is still drawing in so many thousands of satisfied young attendees, but I don’t know if the programming is for me anymore. And I don’t think I am alone. I have heard many other “older” cosplayers saying that they feel the same way. That Anime Boston was a great con for them a few years ago, but they’re starting to out-grow the company. Anime Boston is a great place to bring your kids, and an even better place to let your teenagers run wild. Teenagers LOVE Anime Boston. But the rest of us old people are starting to look elsewhere for our nerd needs.

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The shopping at Anime Boston is what really held my attention. Their dealers’ room was absolutely enormous and spanned what I guess to be two football fields. The artists’ alley also got an upgraded space this year, and was bigger than your typical dealers’ room at another convention. Artists offered prints, buttons, stickers, etched glass, costume accessories, and T-shirts. The dealers had a variety of rave-wear, leather crafts, corsets, lolita and gothic clothing, books, drawing utensils, figurines, keychains, and toys. Many vendors were also offering “convention discounts,” but my experience tells me that buying over the internet is always cheaper than buying from the dealer’s room, the exception being when something is made by hand or sold by an extremely small company or private artist. Small-time artisans really do have great deals to offer on one-of-a-kind merchandise. The savings on shipping alone make buying hand-made items at conventions really worth it!

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Last but not least, I want to talk about the food. Anime Boston actually has a great range of food options available right inside the convention center and attached mall. The Hynes itself has little kiosks here and there offering snack food, sandwiches, and beverages for your convenience. The Prudential Mall, connected to the Hynes, has dozens of restaurants including Legal Seagood, California Pizza Kitchen, and a full food court. Whether you’re in the mood for clam chowder, a grilled cheese sandwich, or a four-course five-star meal, you don’t even have to go outside!

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Overall, Anime Boston is a solid convention. They’ve been doing this for ten years, and have gotten their operations down to a science. Everything runs smoothly thanks to the hard work of their staff and volunteers. Registration is a breeze, lines are kept to a minimum, and I haven’t seen any technical difficulties in years. There is always a huge crowd to interact with, and the convenient location can be accessed by car, train, or bus. The downside to the convention, depending on how you look at it, is how predictable this convention is. They don’t take many risks with programming, and therefore there aren’t a lot of new and exciting surprises on the schedule. The plethora of small children has also started to deter older convention goers from attending Anime Boston. This audience would rather spend their weekend elsewhere, at a convention that caters more towards their interests. Some believe this younger audience is hurting vendors because children have less money to spend than adults do. However, I think that we all know that most teenagers are impulse buyers, and it becomes a matter of getting their money quickly, before they run out for the weekend, rather than the usual approach of selling an item’s finer qualities to an older, more discriminating collector.

Anyway, that concludes my review of Anime Boston 2013!



About the Author

Shauna Leva
I am a freelance artist & illustrator working in the Boston Metro Area. I have been attending conventions since 2003, and working with Nerd Caliber since 2011.




 
 

 
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