Do you love meeting fellow anime fans? Is it your dream to own the world’s biggest collection of Love Live merchandise? Have you ever wanted to listen to a Survey Corps soldier and an Akatsuki ninja debate manga in heavy New England accents? Then Anime Boston is the place for you!
With an average attendance of over 26,000 people and having just crossed its 15th anniversary, Anime Boston is one of the biggest events of the year for East Coast anime fans. We spent three days at the con exploring everything we could – from the kitschy clamor of the dealer’s room to the awe-inspiring artistry of the masquerade and more – and we’re here to tell you all about it!
|When it was Established|| April 2003|
Official Website: www.animeboston.com
|Length of event||3 days, with pre-registration ticket pickup the night before|
|Location||John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center and the Sheraton Boston Hotel – Boston, MA|
|Cost||Like many cons, Anime Boston passes are cheaper the earlier you buy them. The main option is a 3-day pass, which starts at $60 several months before the convention and costs $75 at the door. Children and educational groups receive small discounts, and very young children (under 5 years old) get in free. Additionally, there’s a Sunday-only pass that can be purchased on the Sunday of the convention for $35.|
|Hotels||The convention center is located inside a large mall called the Prudential Center, which is directly connected to three hotels – the Sheraton (which also houses several con events), the Hilton, and the Marriott. Other hotels can be found close by and most are easily reachable on foot or via the subway.|
|Event Message for Attendees||Anime Boston’s focus is to celebrate and promote Japanese animation, comics, and pop culture.|
What to Expect
No matter what kind of nerdery you like best, Anime Boston has something for you. And that means that you’ll meet all kinds of new friends at this con! People of all shapes, sizes, and colors come together to celebrate their favorite fandoms. It’s not unusual at all to see crossdressers, fursuiters, people with physical or mental disabilities, or anything else that might turn heads in a normal situation. At an anime convention (especially one in the heavily liberal state of Massachusetts), nothing is weird.
A couple things to keep in mind, though. Bostonians aren’t known for being tactful, so regular people in the mall may try to take pictures without permission. If that happens, just calmly tell them to stop. Also, because the 2013 Boston Massacre happened on the same street as the convention center, police and metal detectors are present at all entrances. This tends to go off without a hitch, although coming in without a backpack or purse will let you bypass the bag check and get into the con much faster.
Within the actual convention center itself, everything is laid out so that you can easily find whatever you’re looking for. Maps and signs are everywhere, plus helpful staff can direct you wherever you need to go. The main hallways are also wide enough that traffic is rarely a problem. Anime Boston has been going on for so long that they have things like lines and navigation down to a science.
What to Bring
Besides the normal essentials like toiletries, cash, and anything you’d like to get signed, here are a few things we recommend taking with you to Anime Boston:
- Costumes with pockets – The bag check line is almost always out the door, so skip it entirely by stuffing your belongings in deep pockets!
- Protein-rich snacks – The dealer’s room isn’t allowed to sell food (and the convention center’s food is overpriced and underwhelming), so bring some Clif bars or trail mix to keep your energy up.
- Mane n’ Tail Detangling Spray – After you’ve worn a wig all day, it’s probably pretty ratty. Or maybe you have a long wig that constantly needs wrangling. Detangle it easily with this!
- Comfortable shoes or pain medicine – If you can possibly get away with it, wear shoes that won’t murder your feet after 8 hours or more of walking around. But if those heels are integral to your cosplay, pack some over the counter meds instead. This is also useful for headaches caused by tight wigs.
- Paper fan – Even with air conditioning, a convention center holding over 25,000 people can get toasty. Keep a simple paper fan with you to beat the heat, or break out a Japanese folding fan for extra fancy points.
What to Do
Anime Boston is packed to the gills with panels, autograph signings, costume contests, photo shoots, anime screenings, games, and much much more! The best way to organize your time is to download the Guidebook app onto your phone several days before the con and find the schedule there. Then, you can pick which events you want to attend and make your own schedule with optional reminders for things you can’t bear to miss. That being said, don’t feel like you have to stick to this completely. Wandering around and meeting new people is half the fun of being at a con in the first place!
Out of the dozens of events at Anime Boston, here are some highlights and important things to note.
- Panels: Covering pretty much any nerdy topic under the sun, panels can be hosted by anyone from special guest voice actors to well-known cosplayers to just your average fan with something to say. One of the best panels at Anime Boston is “Who Wants to be an Anime Millionaire”, which is an interactive game show hosted by a guy who’s been running it for many years at cons all over the country. Try to find hosts who know their shtick inside and out, and be sure to line up early for panels hosted by popular guests.
- Autographs: There are two ways to get autographs at Anime Boston – the difficult way that’s free, and the easy way that costs money. To get a free autograph, you must get a ticket and stand in line at a specific time to have a chance to meet your favorite anime celebrity. Since so many people attend this con, the ticketing system doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get an autograph if you get in line too late. If you don’t want to deal with that, most guests will also have signings in the dealer’s room for a few hours each. These cost about $5 - $10, or more if you buy a print for them to sign.
- Dealer’s Room/Artist’s Alley: One of the biggest draws for Anime Boston is its absolutely gigantic dealer’s room. The entire set-up sprawls across two massive ballrooms and hosts around 100 vendors. Due to strict Boston law, they can’t sell food or anything that remotely resembles a weapon (so you’ll have to buy your replica dark repulsor sword somewhere else). Artist’s Alley is similarly huge and offers a plethora of fan-made goods to complete your collection. Remember to always be nice to the dealers and artists – they may even find extra amazing merch for you!
- Game Room: Anime Boston’s game room is far from just a few consoles and some card tables. Dozens of arcade games line the walls, multiple fighting game tournaments take place all at once, and some small indie developers show off their new games. We found a Warioware-style title called NitorInc, which stars anime characters in unique microgames.
- Photo Shoots: One of the best ways to meet new friends at anime conventions is to attend a photo shoot for your favorite fandom. Even if you don’t cosplay, you can still have engaging conversations with people about something you both have a lot of passion for. These are organized by attendees anywhere from a few weeks to just a few days before the con itself, so the best way to find out about them is to follow the Facebook group or the Anime Boston forums.
- Masquerade: The premiere event at almost any convention is bound to be the masquerade, where the best cosplayers and AMV creators show off their work to be judged by experts. Anime Boston’s masquerade is emceed by boisterous local celebrity Roadie, who has his own loyal legion of fans. This year, Japanese idol Asaka performed a charming mini concert to open the show, and the skits and AMVs were fantastic. The event lasts for over four hours, but you’re free to leave whenever you feel like you’ve seen enough.
Admiration, glee, astonishment, or confusion - no matter what reaction you get, you’re sure to turn heads if you wear cosplay. And even if you don’t make or buy a costume that represents your favorite character, you can still join in the fun by politely asking the cosplayer for a photograph. Just make sure to always ask permission and not clog any walkways.
At Anime Boston this year, we saw a wide variety of costumes, ranging from relatively simple uniforms from Land of the Lustrous (with tinted plastic sheets and glitter over the wigs to make the hair look like gems) to hand engineered cyborg arms with moving parts and lights on a Genos cosplayer. Talent is on display everywhere, regardless of skill level. And since the attendance is so high, at least a handful of people are certain to recognize your obscure outfit.
Anime Boston is a convention that knows what it’s doing. Even with the metal detectors and weird rules, the whole weekend is a blast and has something for everyone every hour of the day. It attracts thousands of anime fans from all over the northeast, but isn’t so crowded that it becomes unmanageable. If you’re anywhere near Boston next April, be sure to make this con a priority.
What did you think of our rundown? If you’ve ever attended Anime Boston, what was your experience like? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!