Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Anime Lovers in Boston

By Christine Chew

Anime, just like books and movies, is very versatile and suitable for all ages. There are many genres of anime that anybody can find an interest in, such as action, romance, mystery, science fiction, and many more. Every spring, one of the biggest anime conventions in the country takes place in Boston, Massachusetts. Anime lovers everywhere unite at this three-day convention known as Anime Boston. The 10th annual year for this event took place on April 6-8, 2012.

Based on "Hetalia," an anime about political and historical events where each character is personified as a country.
Anime Boston Convention (AB Con) was first proposed by New England Anime Society (NEAS) and took 18 months to plan. Launching off with an attendance of 4,110 guests in 2003, AB Con chairman Andrea Finn reflects, “When I think back on 2002, when we were working to organize ourselves and plan for the first year of the convention, I’m still astounded at how much the event has grown and developed.” AB Con holds the record for largest anime convention in all of New England for the past ten consecutive years. The event was first held at Boston Park Plaza for the first two years but because of overpopulation, AB Con relocated to the Hynes Convention Center in Back Bay. After only ten years, a total of 22,065 guests attended in 2012.

These thousands of fellow anime lovers gather here to express their appreciation for anime. While it is not required, most people seize the opportunity to cosplay, or dress up in costume as memorable anime characters. It is almost like seeing Mickey Mouse from Disney World except a more popular character at AB Con would be Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII. One cosplayer, 17-year-old Richard dressed as Ryuuk from Death Note, remarks, “I love Anime Boston because not only do I get to meet all my favorite anime characters, but I can be someone’s favorite anime character too. It’s also cool to just meet people who I can talk to about anime without feeling geeky.” As much as convention-goers look forward to taking pictures with real life anime characters, it is even more exciting to see them take part in Cosplay Death Match and Cosplay Mock Combat, or join them at the Informal Dance.

Cosplayers at Anime Boston get into character for a picture.

Another way to show appreciation for anime is visiting the Artists’ Alley, Dealers’ Room, and Game Room. This is where AB Con raises money to host the convention. Every year, vendors interested in selling their works pay a fee to NEAS for a spot to sell their materials in hopes to make a profit. Lisa, a 24-year-old seamstress, comments, “The clothes I make are based off of Japanese Lolita fashion like what Chi from Chobits wears and I hope I can sell my stuff at Anime Boston one day.” Artists sell their artwork and homemade crafts, dealers sell merchandise from their stores, and game producers set up video and arcade games. Along with charging $50 per ticket, NEAS has raised a lot of money this way. Every year, some of the proceeds are donated to Central New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society every year.

Anime is very versatile as the age range at AB Con typically falls in the 16-26 range. While there are many familiar faces each year, there are also many more new faces that attend the convention. Finn agrees, “In a real way we grew up, in the way that adults can, alongside the convention.” NEAS plans on hosting the 11th annual Anime Boston Convention on May 24-26, 2013.

From kids to adults, everyone can be anyone at Anime Boston!

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