After two years of roughly equal attendance, it seemed as if Anime Boston had leveled out at around 22,000 attendees. But no, this year managed around 25,000 attendees! This number’s even more impressive when you consider the fact Anime Boston didn’t sell single-day tickets for Friday or Saturday this year. How close are we to the Hynes’ maximum capacity?
What caused this attendance boost? In three words: Attack on Titan. The past year’s biggest anime phenomenon (and at a glance the most cosplayed series this year) had its dub premiere at the convention, playing to a packed house. FUNimation built up to the premiere over the past couple weeks announcing the cast for every character except lead protagonist Eren. With the actors for Armin (Josh Grelle), Mikasa (Trina Nishimura), Levi (Matthew Mercer), and Jean (Mike McFarland, also the dub’s director, interviewed here) all on AB’s guest list, many were suspecting Eren would end up being someone else on the guest list, but by surprise, we received a video greeting from Bryce Papenbrook, unable to make it to AB, announcing his role as Eren, his first in a dub with FUNimation. The dub’s as high quality as you could hope for, faithfully presenting the story and characters in all their emotional intensity. The first 13 episodes are now available for pre-order on DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack.
Other than Titan news, the con was kind of quiet on the industry side of things. FUNimation had a fun little nostalgic 20th birthday panel, but the other industry panels I attended were underwhelming. The most exciting news was probably a launch date for the second season of Space Dandy in July. A few series (Ben-To, A Certain Scientific Rail Gun S, ServantxService) were confirmed for DVD and a few (Irregular at Magic High School, Nanana’s Buried Treasure, Mekaku City Actors, and most promisingly Mushishi Season 2) were confirmed for streaming, but the announcements here felt underwhelming compared to the big news coming out of Japan at the same time, with announcements about a brand new Shincihiro Watanabe show, Zankyo no Terror, and new seasons of Psycho-Pass, Free, and Gargantia. The biggest disappointment is probably the lack of news about any US release for the new Sailor Moon reboot, which given a bunch of Sailor Moon voice actors both American and Japanese were convention guests this year a lot of people were hoping for.
But Anime Boston isn’t just about the industry, it’s also about the fans (and sometimes about the guests, the most interesting I got to see this year was Bebop/GitS/Dandy/tons of other shows-screenwriter Dai Sato; unfortunately I missed both JAM Project concerts due to scheduling conflicts). On that account, this weekend was a huge success. I couldn’t get into everything I wanted to get into because the schedule was packed. The official con theme this year was “magic and mischief”, but in the wake of Pacific Rim kaiju seemed to be the most popular panel topic, likely inspiring the announcement of next year’s theme being “mecha vs. kaiju” (hoping Godzilla 2014 turns out awesome and we finally get a greenlight on Pacific Rim 2). I went to one of the four kaiju panels, “A History of Kaijus with Doctors Geiszler and Gottlieb”, an excellently presented combination of information and cosplay-acting (full disclosure: I went to school with the Geiszler cosplayer). In the wake of Miyazaki’s retirement, Ghibli-related panels were also popular, one of which, “The HayULTIMATE MiyaSHOWDOWN”, I hosted (results of the showdown: Spirited Away won as the crowd’s favorite Miyazaki film, though Princess Mononoke fans put up a strong fight). Not every panel I went to was great. “Tropes and Cliches in Anime” didn’t always pick the most solid examples for what they were trying to communicate, and “An Introduction to Kill La Kill” was a bit on the dry side (though I’ve heard the con’s other Kill la Kill panel was one of the best convention panels ever). For the most informative and entertaining panel I went to overall, I have to give special mention to GeekNights‘ “Judging Anime By Its Cover” panel, which hilariously went through every single new show premiering in the spring, predicting what would be worth watching to which audiences.
I saw plenty of great cosplay this weekend; many of the people I couldn’t get still photos of I was filming on 16mm for a class (I can link to the video in the comments once it’s up). In addition to Attack on Titan, this year’s biggest cosplay trends were Kill la Kill (I went as Mikisugi; saw all the main characters cosplayed except Ragyo, probably because nobody knows how to make glowing rainbow hair) and Disney movies (guessing because of Frozen‘s release launching a nostalgia tidal wave). Even with popular trends, no one series/fandom dominated the con.
Here’s two AMVs to end on: first, my AMV contest submission, which played in the Comedy Overflow:
Finally, the Best in Show AMV contest winner, Anime 101: