Anime Boston 2019 Post-Show Field Report

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Summary of Event

Anime Boston is a yearly event held in the luxurious Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. It’s been a staple of the East Coast convention scene for over 15 years now and always has new things to offer its throngs of attendees. This is our third year at the con, so we’ve got all the info you need to know if you want to visit Anime Boston. Let’s get started!

Basic Info

When it was Established April 2003
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 Anime Boston sells full weekend passes for $80 (cheaper if you register several months ahead of time) as well as Sunday-only passes at the door for $35.

Hotels As the Hynes Convention Center is inside of a large mall called the Prudential Center, there are several hotels connected directly to the whole complex. The Sheraton is closest to the con itself, and the Hilton and Marriott are also accessible via indoor bridges. Other hotels can be found nearby.

Event Message for Attendees

Anime Boston’s focus is to celebrate and promote Japanese animation, comics, and pop culture.

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What to Expect

Friendly Con-Goers: Bostonians aren’t especially known for their friendliness, but at an anime convention, we’re all happy to meet our fellow nerds. It’s perfectly possible to go to this con by yourself and make friends by chatting up cosplayers, playing Magic with someone, or swapping opinions on the latest anime season while waiting in line for the Masquerade. However, if you wander into the Prudential Mall, you might come across people unaffiliated with the con who just want to gawk. Make sure to let them know that taking pictures of cosplayers without permission is rude!

Rigorous Security: Because the convention center is only one street away from the site of the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, security at Anime Boston is understandably strict. There are metal detectors and police officers, but the whole process is pretty quick and painless. If you don’t need to go to weapon check, the artist’s alley entrance on the third floor of the Sheraton hotel often has a much shorter line.

Heavy Focus on Anime: Anime Boston lives up to its title by focusing almost all of its programming on Japan-related topics. It still has a gaming room and a few other non-anime events, but if you’re looking for panels on superheroes or Western cartoons, you won’t find them here.

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What to Bring

Backpack/Bag: Usually we say not to bring a bag so that you can avoid the luggage line at security, but Boston recently banned disposable plastic bags, so dealers and artists won’t be able to give you anything to carry your brand new figures or keychains with. This may be different next year once sellers have more time to prepare their own bags, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own just in case.

Cash: If you pay with cash in the dealer’s room, you’ll avoid paying sales tax on your purchases. Also, having a few extra bucks on hand is useful for tipping your hotel housekeeper!

Things to Get Autographed: Whether you go for the free autograph lottery (which can be time-consuming) or the paid dealer’s room signings, you’ll want to bring along your favorite print or DVD for your chosen celebrity to sign. They usually have buyable prints with them if you forgot your merch at home, though.

Snacks: Anime Boston has plenty of dining options, both in the Prudential Mall and inside the convention center itself, but most restaurants and cafés are likely to have long lines at most hours of the day (except for the excellent Asian sandwich place in the mall, which for some reason always has a short line). To keep yourself in top shape, bring along some portable high-protein snacks like Clif bars for a burst of nutrients whenever you need it.

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What to Do

Panels: This con features a plethora of panels led by special guests, featured cosplayers, and other interesting people. The panels offer everything from tips and tricks for wig styling to the history of the yuri genre to tutorials on how to sew your own onigiri plush. One of our favorite panels this year was a discussion on the portrayal of physical disabilities in anime, headed up by cosplayers Misa on Wheels and Stardust Camellia. This lively roundtable taught us all sorts of new things about how disabled people live and how they feel about their own representation in media.

Dealer’s Room/Artist’s Alley: Our personal favorite part of any con is hunting for merch in the dealers’ room and artists’ alley. Both rooms are massive and hold dozens of the best vendors from across the country, all stocked with anything a nerd could ever want. Well, almost anything. Vendors aren’t allowed to sell food or anything that resembles a weapon, but the nearly endless selection of figures and posters and pins more than makes up for it.

Game Shows: Game show panels are always entertaining! Our favorite is called “Who Wants to be an Animillionaire?”, based on the original show of (almost) the same name. The host has been running the panel for 10 years along the East Coast, so he has the structure down to a science and uses all of the music, sound effects, and lighting cues of the Regis Philbin version. A team of two guys won the million dollar question after losing the previous year—one of only three million dollar wins in the history of the panel!

Photoshoots: If you love making new friends with whom you can geek out about your favorite anime, cosplay photoshoots are the place to meet them! Even if you aren’t in cosplay, you can still join in the chaotic fun of recreating fan-favorite memes and gushing over amazing costumes. Plus, you get some hilarious pictures to take home!

Screenings: Big cons like this one are great places to see new anime before it airs worldwide. This year, Anime Boston premiered Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection with Johnny Yong Bosch and Yuri Lowenthal (the English voice actors for Lelouch and Suzaku, respectively) as featured guests! They also premiered City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes and the dub of Record of Grancrest War. Be sure to line up early for these screenings, as they tend to fill up quickly!

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Long ago we had Homestuck, then Attack on Titan, and now the cosplay crown firmly sits on My Hero Academia’s spiky shounen head. This popular series had the most cosplay representation by a landslide—the group photoshoot was actually so massive that it took up an entire hallway! Artist’s alley booths capitalized on the trend with unique items like Todoroki ice and fire cat ears from Silvered Fox Creations and a holographic 3D print from Wizyakuza that shifted between different heroes. Not that we’re complaining, of course. With its large and diverse cast of characters, multiple outfits, and room for individual creativity, it was a joy to see My Hero Academia cosplays everywhere we looked. Our favorite has to be a half-Deku/half-Bakugou costume with a grenade gauntlet that lights up in different colors.

Other frequently seen cosplays included characters from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure part 5, Persona 5, the ever-popular Steven Universe (now including characters from much later in the show), and Super Crown princesses like Bowsette and Booette. We also enjoyed the witty cosplays that referenced Easter or 4/20, both of which took place during the con weekend. On Sunday, featured cosplayer Cowbutt Crunchies got in on the Massachusetts meme-y merriment by wearing a detailed suit of Dunkin’ Donuts armor, complete with donut shoulder pads and a coffee cup staff to match.

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Final Thoughts

Boston is known for its strong opinions and liberal values, both of which you’ll find in big amounts at this con. For anyone who feels unaccepted by society, Anime Boston is just the place to express yourself in a safe environment (as long as you stay within the convention center) and make new friends along the way. With its well-organized logistics, accessible gender-neutral bathrooms, and huge list of events, Anime Boston is a highly respectable con that values each and every one of its attendees. Be sure to stop by next year!

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Author: Mary Lee Sauder

After the hard-hitting East Coast lifestyle hit me a bit too hard, I started pursuing my passion as a writer in my cozy home state of Ohio. Aside from that, I spend my time cooking, cosplaying, collecting anime merch, and being an improv comedy actor. I also love sneaking alliterations and stupid puns into my writing, so be on the lookout for them! 😉

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