I must humbly apologize to all of those individuals who took the time out to come to the site and enjoy our coverage of Anime Boston 2009. It has been a few weeks now since the assualt on the Hynes Convention Center and all representatives from CosWatch have been silent. There are of course many reasons for why we got so busy that we did not provide the good public our insights on this convention, some reasons in our control (Warhammer 40k, RPG, video games) and some that were not (hospital visits, family, weddings).
None the less, while we are all in some form of busy here at HQ, allow me to take some time out and give your my, that is Joey V’s, convention review.
From a pure organizational standpoint, Anime Boston is a triumph. It is a convention that is charged with housing over 20,000 people, and the staff have done such a wonderful job that the entire affair felt like a smaller, more intimate con. Now I am aware that last year there were a lot of issues with registration and with lines in general. This was a sore point for many con-goers, and it was as well for the staff that we talked to. As you can read about and listen in to our podcast with Anime Boston’s LineCon, the staff really wanted to make the logistical items that people had to go through as easy as possible. Whereas last year Registration might have taken hours, this year it took about 30 minutes for many people. While the wait for front row seats to the Masquerade was upwards of 5 hours (hope you REALLY wanted to see it), for those who stood in line, they had LineCon entertaining them with games, music and some general goofiness.
No matter what you do, registration and organization is going to be hard at a con. You put enough people in any place, and the space is going to start to feel cramped and boredom is going to set in. This is an unavoidable aspect of any convention, the only thing you can do is minimize the impact it has on your guests. From everything I saw and heard from the fans, everything was handled well, and security made sure everyone stayed in line.
Final Verdict: Staff organized very well – Thumbs Up!
Ask a business owner what is important and one of the likely answers you are to get is “location, location, location.” Same goes with an Anime Con, as it is only as good as the hotel / convention center that it is being held at. For example, we here at CosWatch were very fond of the old Anime USA location of Tyson’s Corner, VA rather than the current one of Crystal City. Hotel was smaller sure, but it just felt so much better and so many great spots for each event, seemingly every spot was perfect for what it housed.
Would Anime Boston fall into that perfect fit group, or would it prove to be an unwieldy choice at best? I am very happy to report that the convention space was AMAZING! Yes the caps lock was needed right there to wake you all up. The convention center was located in the middle of a great section of Boston, offering con goers a wide variety of places to stay, eat and go. Want a fancy dinner? They got it. Want something on the cheaper end for those on a budget? Of course!
Add to this that the convention is connected to a mall, so you have an opportunity to pick up anything you might have forgotten. Also there is an absolutely gorgeous lawn in the middle of the Prudential center for picture taking and just relaxing in the spring air. Hotel room? Oh yeah, it’s connected to the mall and convention center as well, meaning you have everything you could possibly need right in front of you. Convention Center had three floors to spread out all of the events, not to mention that there was still some rooms in the Hotel for other things, along with free Wireless internet throughout the convention center. Thanks to whoever set that up because it helped keep CosWatch up and running the entire time.
With all the space we had open to us, this large con of so many thousands of people felt like a smaller con where we could stretch our legs. How ever much it cost the staff to secure this space it was well worth it, because we felt very comfortable and not squished at all.
Final Verdict: Perfect location!
There’s really no easy way to talk about this next topic for me, so I simply called it the Fun Factor. Simply put, did I have fun at the convention? The short answer is, yes I had a blast! Let me elaborate now that the Anime Boston Staff is high fiving in relief.
This encompasses everything for me, so forgive my tangents. Anime Boston has all the things you are look for in an Anime Convention. They have video viewing rooms, AMV’s, Main Events, Artist’s Alley, Panels, Music, etc. Everything on the schedule seemed to be very well spaced for my liking, giving you the time to see every major event, along with going off to go see panels, shop in the dealer room, and anything else you felt like doing. The panels shown were solid choices, though I have seen almost all of them done similarly at other cons. Not a bad thing per se, but a bit more variety and new thoughts would have been welcomed.
Video game room was solid, but I have seen more elaborate ones in my time. What it did have going for it was full arcade DDR machines, and every console you could imagine setup for multiplayer. Now on the other hand, the board game / CCG room was a stellar effort. We here at CosWatch are huge RPG and board game fans, so we actually spent a good amount of time in this room trying out different games. They gave space to try out new RPG systems, a huge library of board games that you could just take to a table and open up, CCG tournaments, a place to buy new booster packs, and even some table top miniature gaming. All of it was open well into the night and gave a weary con goer a solid place to relax a bit.
Before I go any further a huge shout out to Mark and J.R. who we met while we were at the gaming room. We played Settlers of Catan with Mark and talked about various RPG’s and conventions with J.R. and both were a pleasure to meet. Thanks a lot guys for being awesome!
The cosplay level was very good overall. We saw a lot of unique costumes, and a ton of well done characters throughout the weekend. For the most part, the people who were walking around in costume, worked to their strengths and body types, and I didn’t see too many cosplayers who were just out of their element … until the Masquerade of course. =P
Dealer room was solid and … and well that’s all I can really say about it. Unfortunately for Boston they are not allowed to sell Pocky or Japanese soda in the dealer rooms, so 90% of what I buy just wasn’t available. I will say that I appreciate just how much room there was between all of the shops as it made walking and browsing a lot easier. Artist Alley though was mightily impressive in just how much space they had. So many vendors there, more than I had ever seen in an Alley before. This was a good thing in that it gave me so many options, but it was definitely a lot of people to slog through so I probably missed a few really talented people that I shouldn’t have. So a bit of good and bad.
Now we really come to the most important part of a con … the people. I have to say, that the people I interacted with made this con fabulous. Obviously CosWatch is a pretty big deal, so we got to hang out with the Staff and they just rocked. Especially that one dude who was hugging the sushi roll!
As an aside, thank you so much to Jamison and Tuan. These guys helped us with our first major convention press coverage, and were the absolute best. Next time we see you, we’re buying you a round of drinks!
As for everyone else, we met a lot of fans who we had a blast talking to, asking them about their conventions experiences and seeing what made them tick. We also met up with great friends from cons past, enjoying the time we had to share a talk with them. Big thanks go out to Paul, Meredith, Vivienne, and the best damn Jack Sparrow we’ve ever seen for showing us a good time.
Final Verdict: Supremely fun!
In the coming days, the staff here will be making their choices for best in show costumes and individuals, placing them on their own page of victory to be seen forever (as long as we pay the hosting bill). We will also be posting a wonderful video of a very talented girl doing a fan dance. We have been editing that video and it’s coming out amazing, I hope she is still checking!
With all of the press stuff out of the way though, the final question someone might ask me is, “Joe, would you go to Anime Boston again?” Would I? I already have my tickets and hotel room reserved for next year! The convention is a blast, offering up something for everyone who enters the halls of the Hynes Convention Center. I have had many friends go to Otakon in Baltimore which is often referred to as the Mecca of Anime Conventions. Yet when compared to Anime Boston, it is found lacking in many areas. Boston has better location, it is logistically large, but feels like a smaller more intimate affair. Finally the place has some wondefully nice people who we were lucky enough to talk to for a few days. We can only hope that our paths will cross again.
Should you go to Anime Boston? Yes, yes you should. I won’t lie to you, the hotel room price can be a bit daunting as it is about $200 a night. Other cons can get you in a room for much less than that, that is very true. Yet at the end of the day, would you want to spend less for a hotel room and have an ok time, or would you rather spend more and have an absolute blast?! For me the answer is easy, and it should be for you too.
Keep an eye out on our Best in Show awards from Anime Boston being posted later on this week. Until then, make your reservations now and tell them CosWatch sent ya!