The end of March had me on a cramped bus, surrounded by other eager anime enthusiasts, waiting for the start of Anime Boston 2016. This was my first year attending the famed Northeastern convention, and I was convinced that it would be like no other convention I’ve attended before. I sincerely thank the Anime Boston staff for giving me the grand opportunity of reviewing and writing about this nerd fest, for anyone curious about how Boston anime fans like to party (with Pocky and Tequila of course). Move aside Bruins fans!
The convention was held at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center. Thousands of nerds crowded the Boston T, draped in silks, pasties, and robes, eager for this extravaganza. The convention center itself was laid out nicely, with staff member all around, ready to point a finger in the right direction or help out with any issue. Stunning cosplays graced almost every inch of the place, and I couldn’t have been happier. Even in freezing weather, cosplayers deliver.
The Powers That Be know how nerd fests such as Anime Boston have their fair share of exasperating variables attached to the overall running of the con. With the recent concerns of safety, the Hynes Convention Center came equipped with a legion of the best TSA security officers this side of the USA can hire. Meaning, getting into the actual convention was a journey all on its own. You needed to come equipped with a map, KIND bars, a blanket, and a tourniquet for waiting in those lines. I also heard of some stories where particular weapons deemed unsafe were not just not allowed, they were taken away permanently by the security staff. Curious measure. I completely understand the need for extra security, so I appreciate and understand all of the people who just wanted to keep us attendees safe. However, weirdos in Harley Quinn and One-Punch Man cosplays don’t do too well waiting in 20-degree weather just to get into the center.
Artist’s Alley gave so much color and ridiculousness that if my wallet was anthropomorphic, it would have been shedding tears. I couldn’t resist purchasing the Kero from Cardcaptor Sakura skirt or the eggs duffel bag. I mean, can you blame me? The duffel bag had EGGS on them.
The Dealer’s Room was impressive (not as impressive as Otakon’s) and had a large variety of options, including booths for the car service Lyft and study and work abroad programs (mostly for Japan). There was a large variety of manga, DVDs, figurines, and plushies, so the average con-goer would feel right at home maxing out their credit cards there.
BNP had the pleasure of being able to work with a fabulous nerd who was passionate about continuing a discourse about racial boundaries within the convention community. They hosted a panel on Friday night entitled “Black Nerds Matter: The Intersection of Race and Otaku Culture.” Diva Williams, the fabulous creator of this panel, sent shivers down the spines of each nerd in that room with her beautiful and witty delivery, who gathered together in solidarity and conversation. Diva was joined by Arrionna (@Silveramethystart), who helped moderate the panel.
[quote_simple]“I got the idea to do this panel after reading about Darrien Hunt. He was shot several times in the back by police after a white neighbor called and reported that a Black person was walking down the street. He was cosplaying as Mugen from Samurai Champloo, a character who is frequently read as Black by Black viewers seeking to see themselves in the media they love despite the dearth of brown-skinned characters in anime, video games, or pretty much anywhere else.
On thinking through the litany of ways in which racism rears its ubiquitous head, I decided to think about some ways that racism makes it so that Black folks can’t have any fun. Check out the video for a partial look at the panel, and keep an eye on me for more insights and explanations. I am taking this show on the road (with a camera that has a fully charged battery next time), so get ready for what comes next!
Meanwhile, check out my Instagram to see pictures of my food often and my face occasionally, follow my Twitter as I struggle vainly to figure out how Twitter is supposed to work, ditto for Vine, and listen to me yell angrily about various things on YouTube. I also have a Tumblr, which is the only social media account I have that proves me to be a functional member of 21st Century society. Just look for BitterestBlue!” -Diva[/quote_simple]
I would also like to sincerely thank the Press Relations staff for allowing me to interview two wonderful voice actors in the anime industry, Erica Lindbeck (voice of Jericho from The Seven Deadly Sins) and Eric Vale (voice of Yuki Sohma from Fruits Basket). These two voice actors were open, insightful, and charming as they discussed their respective experiences within the media world and how they got to where they are today. I was very pleased to see Erica respond to my question about how to deal with racism and sexism with a zero tolerance policy to harassment. It’s refreshing and reassuring when voice actors, especially big ones, take a stand against the bullshit we face in the cosplay community. Eric Vale also took a stance against bullying of any kind, especially against vulnerable and impressionable young children. I, too, personally feel as a nerd/geek community that strives on acceptance, we should allow everyone to be who they are, as well as stand up to those who seek to oppress, silence, or harm anyone who just wants to enjoy, peacefully, being a member of the convention circuit.
In the off times where I was not at the convention, I was enjoying my time in our hotel room, getting to know MA’s charming and hilarious residents. Here’s a shout-out to the awesome roommates I had during my stay there, who gave me not just puns, quotes, and dirty humor, but a splendid good time in the Swap Meet. That Swap Meet enlightened me to the fact that one man’s holographic Butterfree is another man’s DVD Box Set of Samurai Champloo. That, and getting free Yu-Gi-Oh! cards from people is cool as hell. Back to the awesome roommates however; we managed not get on each other’s nerves. I felt not just at ease, but happy sharing space with these quirky organic beings. It was great watching skine-, I mean Cinemax and mocking the absurd plots(?) these films(?) seemed to go off of. If you’re going to get together with acquaintances and make fun of softcore porn, I highly recommend doing it at anime conventions (with non-creepy people of course).
All in all, this was a fun, pleasant, and hilarious adventure into the Northeastern convention community. I met the most generous and intelligent human beings there, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Who knows, maybe I’ll be boarding another crowded bus again next year, headed to ‘ole bean town to chill with some costumed heroes next year.