Hey y’all! I’m sitting here now on my couch with a comfy blanket surrounding me while my legs recover from all the walking I did this weekend. Man, I just don’t have the stamina for conventions anymore. I must be getting old. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Anime Boston, but with the company of a good friend from my college years, I decided this year would be a good time to see if the convention has improved at all. My first experience with Anime Boston was about five or so years ago when I first moved to Boston. Was just coming off the experience of hosting and planning my own fan convention at my college, and had it in my head that I wanted to try and get more involved in a bigger convention. I tried volunteering at Anime Boston that year and, well, let’s say it didn’t go too well and I just kind of found the convention overall to be fairly lackluster. I’m pleased to say, coming back after so long, that I had a really great time and managed to find a lot of great panels that piqued my interest this time around. I also, unfortunately for my wallet, found a lot of manga and other merch that piqued my interest. Keep reading for more on both of these!
Some Cool Panels
The Cult and Culture of Yaoi: I found this panel super informative. The host delved into the tropes and history of yaoi and BL, examining the genre through the lense of academia. He pulled out a lot of interesting articles, surveys, and studies that pointed looked at both the reader’s opinion of the genre and the opinions of the mangaka actually involved in the evolution of the genre. Through this, he pretty much dismissed the 90s notion that BL is created as a way to give women a safe place to explore their own sexuality, and instead looked at the ways homophobia and ideas around being gay are presented in these stories.
Homosexuality in Japan (Part 1): In part one of this two-part panel series, the host dived into the history behind homosexuality in Japan going back to ancient, pre-Meiji times. She had a lot of examples of woodblock prints and letters detailing the kinds of homosexual relationships that would have been considered normal during that time. Commonly found among monks and high-class samurai, having a young male lover was considered a status symbol and a way to educate the younger generation. It’s something I’ve looked into myself before, and I’m excited to try and find some of the books she recommended. I never made it to part two of the panel series (mainly because I didn’t want to go back through security with two big bags, one full of manga), but I believe in that one she went into the history of homosexuality after the Meiji era where the influence of Christianity and Western culture started to change things.
AMV Contest: Out of all the big panels that happen at cons (the Masquerade, Death Match, and Dating Game) the AMV Contest is one of the only ones I consistently go to anymore. I don’t usually watch AMV’s on my own, so it’s a nice change of pce to sit down and watch some of these really cool or really funny creations. The winners of the contest are then announced at the end of the Masquerade. This year, it was this AMV about She and Her Cat Everything Flows that won top prize. I really love the comedy sections of these contests as well as some of the more inventive AMVs that come out of it. This one is one of my own honorable mentions.
Crunchyroll Movie Night Presents Bungo Stray Dogs – Dead Apple: Yup, that’s right. Crunychroll premiered the new Bungo Stray Dogs movie simultaneously at Anime Boston and Sakura Con on the west coast. It was a pretty awesome movie with all our favorite characters coming back and the big twists and turns expected of the series. It was fun watching the movie in a convention setting surrounded by fans. It made it a more lively experience I think than a regular movie theater might be.
Studio Ghibli: The Art, the Magic, the Reality: This is one of the panels that I enjoyed the most. It featured one of the original animators from Studio Ghibli, Hirokatsu Kihara, who showed off some original sketches and art from Miyazaki and Ghibli movies such as Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Castle in the Sky. He also talked about what it was like working with Miyazaki and the different techniques used in hand-drawn animation.
Crunchyroll Premiere Panel: This is the last panel I went to at Anime Boston. Crunchyroll decided to premiere three shows during the panel. Two of them, Magical Girl Ore and the OVA for Mob Psycho 100, were already available on the site at the time. However, they did show the first episode of the new season of Food Wars. That was pretty awesome. I won’t mention any spoilers, but from what I’ve seen so far it should be a pretty great season especially for Erina.
I Went a Little Overboard on Manga…
I definitely spent way too much on manga over the weekend, but I managed to find a few of the volumes I’ve been looking for. The one series I wasn’t able to pick up more volumes of was The Girl from the Other Side, a super charming series that I was hoping to grab volume two and/or three of over the weekend. I was only able to find volume four. That makes me sad, but it gives me another reason to go manga shopping again. Below are some cool manga I found in my search.
Giant Spider and Me: This manga has popped up on my twitter a couple times, and caught my attention enough to give it a try. Unfortunately, it’s not something I can review on this blog for obvious reasons. The premise is as follows: “A young girl named Nagi and a giant spider make an unusual pair in this post-apocalyptic story, but living in the mountains is lonely, and they’ve managed to find each other. Join them in their strangely sweet domestic bliss as they spend their days sharing tea and throwing picnics, proving that love (and delicious food) can bring together even the most unlikely of friends.” The first volume turned out to be this charming mashup of post-apocalyptic tale and cooking manga. I highly recommend checking it out.
Sorry for My Familiar: This is another one I won’t be able to review on my blog, but I wanted to mention it because it’s so hilarious. The story is: “When the devil girl Patty finds she’s too weak to summon an animal familiar, she chooses a human instead. His name: Norman Volcanello–an eccentric guy with a dangerous fascination with exotic life forms. As Patty and Norman set out to find her missing father, an offbeat adventure begins!” The first volume is pretty great. It’s super funny and the art is fantastic. I can’t wait for more volumes.
The Young Master’s Revenge: “When Leo was a young boy, he had his pride torn to shreds by Tenma, a girl from a wealthy background who was always getting him into trouble. Now, years after his father’s successful clothing business has made him the heir to a fortune, he searches out Tenma to enact a dastardly plan—he’ll get his revenge by making her fall in love with him!” I’m not sure how this one will turn out just yet, but I saw it pop up on my twitter enough times to at least give it a try. I’ll probably be adding it to my list to review in the future either way.
Everyone’s Getting Married: This one is a josei romance manga I’ve wanted to try for a bit, and a review of the first volume is on the list for the future. The story is according to ANN: “Successful career woman Asuka Takanashi has an old-fashioned dream of getting married and becoming a housewife. After her long-term boyfriend breaks up with her to pursue his own career goals, she encounters Ryu Nanami, a popular newscaster at PTV. Asuka and Ryu get along well, but the last thing he wants is to ever get married.” I’m still not sure of my thoughts on first volume, but it looks promising from what I’ve read so far. Look out for my review in the future.
A Bride’s Story: “Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adoptive and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.” I got a hardcover version of this manga, and I’m super excited to see how it turns out. It seems pretty interesting and the art looks fantastic. It’s also going on my list of future manga to review at some point.
I also managed to pick up two volumes of Ancient Magus’ Bride, Yotsuba, and Skip Beat and then one volume of L-DK to add to my collection. I noticed a bit too late that I could have also bought a few volumes of Horimiya. Oh well, more to look for next time.
Merch, Merch, Merch
The artist alley and dealer’s room this year was great and I would up finding a few choice things to add to my Fiance and my poster wall. I also went into the convention with the mission of finding some sort of Cardcaptor Sakura merch, whether it be a key necklace or a figurine. I wound up finding two small figurines that are super cute, and now I’m just hoping that hasn’t opened a Pandora’s Box of sorts. Everything from the artist alley that I found is listed below with the relevant links to their sites/shops if you’re interested in finding them.
I find the atmosphere of cons fun and rewarding if I manage to survive being on my feet all day and not eating well all weekend. I didn’t get to go to all of the things I wanted to (due to the above not eating well coming back to haunt me), but I still had a great time. I’ll probably be going next year if it doesn’t fall on Easter weekend again, and I would recommend that if you’re in the Boston area you give this convention a try. Sorry for the long post. Regular reviews will continue this Wednesday hopefully and then it’s on to PAX East this Sunday!
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
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