Anime Boston is still going strong. And this year they were also celebrating 20 years since the convention first began back in 2003. Ever since I first attended Anime Boston while I was in college, it’s been the funnest event I look forward to every year. It’s got a nice mix of entertaining and educational panels, great cosplays with a friendly community, and amazing fanart for sale. All, of course, focused on anime and Japanese culture. So if you’ve never gone and you’re in the New England area, I would highly recommend checking it out.
And honestly I did feel so much more energy this time compared to last year. Which makes sense because now we’re not dealing as much with pandemic headaches. This year Anime Boston didn’t mandate masks but they require proof of initial vaccination. There were a lot of people of course, between 25-30k I’d imagine. But luckily there wasn’t a big outbreak from the event, at least as far as I know. So let’s get right into it.
Anime Sites from Yesteryear
The first panel we went to was Anime Sites from Yesteryear. This was hosted by Samantha from Anime Herald, who I met last year when they were giving out Sakura Wars DVDs, and my friend Kennedy, who you probably know on YouTube as Red Bard. The video for this panel is up on Kennedy’s channel now so you can watch the full thing there if you want.
They highlight how the cool thing about online fandom is that it’s sort of traceable. So when they talk about the anime fandom’s history online, they could go all the way back before the world wide web was even invented. According to them, it all started in late 1987 when a college student started a UseNet group about anime. When their historical timeline then went into the 90s, they gave out a few AOL discs. I got 1000 free hours!
They focused on a few notable websites. Anime Web Turnpike was a giant directory of anime website links. AnimeOnDVD was an anime news site that started a few months before Anime News Network.
Fanfiction.net was where all sorts of fandoms appeared. Cosplay.com dealt with anything cosplay related. LiveJournal brought easy access to user blogs, which a number of anime cons, fanclubs, and celebrities would use as well. Anime Boston had one at some point.
AnimeMusicVideos.org was THE place for AMVs, at least until they got cease-and-desisted and had to remove about 2000 AMVs. Mostly ones that used music by Evanescence.
And of course they had to bring up Gaia Online, the anime-themed social network from 2003 which let you have anime avatars you could customize with outfits and other items. Which eventually killed its own virtual economy through hyperinflation. But you can hear about all that in Kennedy’s video about Gaia Online.
Overall it was a pretty informative tour of online anime fandoms throughout the years.
Exploring Historiocity in Anime and Manga
Speaking of history, the next panel we went to was Exploring Historiocity in Anime and Manga, which was also hosted by Kennedy. This one explored historical authenticity in anime, so I personally found it really cool because of my similar interest in scientific accuracy in anime.
But they had to start with a lot of ground rules so we all understood what’s considered to be historical anime. It needs to either focus on specific historical figures, events, eras, or concepts. And it needs to be an intentional presentation of this history. Shiki was disqualified because its 90s setting was really just the result of the light novels being written in the 90s.
Some categories Kennedy covered included: every iteration of Oda Nobunaga in anime (there’s a lot, one of them is a dog), how insanely attentive to detail the Vinland Saga author is, and that Requiem of the Rose King series where they all wanna fuck King Richard III, or something like that.
It was a hilarious panel that also introduced this perspective of how anime plays with historical concepts. Some of them do really well and are accurate. Others make more interesting stories but are highly inaccurate. And if you’re interested in historiocity in anime, the ultimate recommendation was to just get into Vinland Saga. It’s so good and so well done.
That panel should hopfully be up on Kennedy’s YouTube channel later, right now they’re trying to salvage some issue they had with their footage.
Live Drawing with Shiu Yoshijima
After that, we checked out the live drawing session with Anime Boston’s main Japanese guest, manga author Shiu Yoshijima. She had a rough sketch of something ready and we spent the time watching her paint while asking her questions while her two interpreters helped guide the conversation. The artist normally draws different types of monster girls. I’m not familiar with the painting process when it comes to physical art, but I remember she started with the main body pink color, then some bows and the hair, the eyes, and finally the outlines.
A lot of the questions were related to her personal art process and some of it went over my head, but it was still interesting to learn about some of those concepts for the first time. And they also talked about how each time they work on a character they try to imagine some kind of lore about them each time so the process of creating them becomes more personal.
Someone asked how she remembers where to put the details after she paints over the sketch, and her answer was she usually forgets so she either just guesses and or goes on instinct. It’s something that you get better at over time with experience.
There were a few times where we could notice that she was painting wet on wet, which she confirmed was intentional in order to get a certain effect. Guess that makes sense, but again I only really have digital art experience.
Overall it was nice to see this professional artist’s whole process from start to finish in about an hour while learning from them. Kind of wanted to buy one of their cute monster girl artbooks while I was there but I never stumbled on their booth or whatever.
The Legacy of Leiji Matsumoto
Then I went to the Legacy of Leiji Matsumoto panel. And for context I don’t think I’ve seen anything by Leiji Matsumoto. Probably my main exposure to their work is seeing a few references in the Blue Blazes live-action show. I know Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock, and Space Battleship Yamato (aka Star Blazers) exist though. Should be good enough to listen to a panel right?
The panel was hosted by Zack Davisson, Helen McCarthy, Neil Nadelman, and Darius Washington. Specifically relevant for this panel, Zack was the official English translator for almost all of Leiji’s manga and came up with a Leiji Matsumoto “bible” of sorts that matches all the terminologies across his works. And Helen McCarthy is a British author of anime reference books, one of which is “Leiji Matsumoto: Essays on the Manga and Anime Legend” which is available on Amazon now.
The panelists opened by introducing themselves and their experience with Star Blazers, one of Leiji’s works which I’m now told became the sort of gateway drug for TV anime here in America. And from there it transitioned into talking about Leiji’s history, the impact of his work, how cool Captain Harlock always looks, his love of strong Kyushu women resulting in awesome female characters, his casual friendship with Tezuka, and how he builds space opera universes based solely on being cool regardless of making sense.
Technically I have seen that Daft Punk anime that Leiji supposedly worked on (Interstella 5555) but even during the panel they said he was barely a part of it aside from his name being in the credits. Anyone referring to Leiji Matsumoto as “the Daft Punk guy” gets a very angry lecture from Zack Davisson, but he’s still sort of fine with the anime as being a gateway for new people to find his works.
Time Travel in Anime
The next panel was tailor made for me: Time Travel in Anime. Hosted by an engineer, college physics teacher, and long time anime nerd named Mitch Stern. The guy was hilarious and informative, making the panel an incredibly entertaining mix for a sci-fi anime obsessed dude like me.
It starts with talking about broad time travel theories and related concepts, such as paradoxes and the different problems time travel itself can cause. And then he dives into different attempts in the media of applying these concepts, like Star Trek, Back to the Future, Terminator, and Groundhog Day.
The bulk of the panel was spent going over different types of time travel anime, its general premise in relation to its time travel, how it affects the story, and what problems they have with time travel logic.
It starts with Inuyasha and the time traveling well. Then you get The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and how she casually uses her leaps to make her life easier. One anime I didn’t expect that showed up here was Higurashi, but I guess it makes sense since it does deal with time loops. Then you get stuff like Re:Zero with its respawn mechanic. Other time travel series brought up were Little Busters, Madoka Magica, Your Name, 7Seeds, Revisions, Iroduku, and Erased.
But of course he saved Steins;Gate for last because it is the quintessential time travel anime that’s both very scientifically accurate and a great narrative. According to him: “it doesn’t use time travel, it is time travel”. And I completely agree.
This was the first year I actually attended the big AMV contest event and not just the replays afterwards. I’d actually also entered the contest myself for the first time with my own AMV about Words Bubble Up and the Porter Robinson song “Something Comforting”. Sadly I didn’t make the finals but it was still a fun thing to try.
And after seeing all the other finalists, I can see how tough it was to get nominated. There was a parody of the AMC Theaters trailer, a mix of Cyberpunk with The Matrix Resurrections, and this awesome looking Toilet Bound Hanako-kun manga video. Those are probably all up on YouTube so I’ll link a playlist for you guys to check out.
Greg Ayres – Raw & Uncensored
The last thing we went to Friday night was the Greg Ayres – Raw & Uncensored panel where he told us all some of the wildest stories he’s had to deal with.
The biggest story of which was the time he went to a hotel where someone was murdered. And he asked some of the staff if he was in, what he called, “the fucked up room”. Turns out he was, in fact, in the fucked up room.
He also went on about some other stories but that one was the main one I remembered. Honestly it was all a great comedy routine so it’s better to hear it live anyways.
How Mamoru Hosoda Directed TV Anime
Saturday morning started with a panel by Shaybs, aka Caribou-Kun. And their presentation was on how Mamoru Hosoda directed TV anime. Before going to this I was familiar with Hosoda’s movies, some of which I love like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
The panel was an audience participation thing where we all collectively dissected different scenes from shows Hosoda directed. Like a clip from GeGeGe where everyone turns into darumas and we talk about how Hosoda uses storytelling with just shadows in frames. Or skits in Himitsu no Akko-chan that use repetition and context shifts to completely change how you feel about the scene.
It was insightful and interactive and gave me some practice for things I should pay attention to when focusing on the direction of a scene.
The History of Kyoto Animation
The History of Kyoto Animation panel went through a timeline of their series and how they were received. Like how they took over Full Metal Panic for season two and all the visual novel adaptations they did with Air, Clannad, and Kanon. But the big shift for the studio was the huge successes of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star.
Which to me also seemed to influence their experimental marketing techniques later on. Specifically the prototype anime original trailers they made which were then widely received. One of which eventually evolved into the swimming anime Free!
And then of course they talked about their other big titles like Hibike Euphonium, Beyond the Boundary, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and Violet Evergarden.
What they didn’t want to dig into detail on was the unfortunate arson incident Kyoto Animation suffered in 2019. And I understand why they’d rather not get into it, it’s still depressing to think about today. But I’m glad to see the studio back up and still going strong today.
Sarah Natochenny: Pokemon, End of an Era
Next up was the Sara Natochenny Q&A panel. She’s a voice actor who mainly worked as the voice of Ash Ketchum since 2006. Well, until he won the Pokemon World Championship recently and Ash’s story in Pokemon finally came to a close.
Now Sarah’s biggest role is done after all these years. So the Q&A felt kind of like a sendoff for the fans to say goodbye too. Seeing all the Pokemon cosplays in the room was great. Like a cool Mandalorian Armor Pikachu.
Sarah was also dealing with her voice dying for some reason. Not sure if she was sick or something but she told us all she’s supposed to be recording lines in a couple days, so that’s not good. Hopefully it got better in time.
Life Advice with Magni & Vesper
Later that night we went to the big event: Life Advice with Magni & Vesper. I still don’t watch VTubers much, I just know these VTubers exist and learn stuff about them through friend osmosis, weird Twitter drama, and fanart.
Anyways, there we are in a packed auditorium with two giant VTuber boys on the big screen. A few times they showed the audience on one of the screens and the fans were having a blast with that.
Lots of spears being waved because at some point Vesper randomly bought a boar spear, or something like that. And towards the front someone kept waving a dakimakura of Magni. So before we even got started everyone was having a fun time.
When the main event started, audience members were picked to go up and ask for any life advice they wanted. So just picture a con-goer sitting on a stool up on stage with a microphone and two gigantic VTuber boys surrounding them. Most of it was silly stuff like how do I become Danny Devito and how to stop playing League of Legends.
A couple questions were about relationship advice. One of them called the boyfriend on the stage for a debate over ownership of a Magni daki. And another one was a guy in a long distance relationship and he wanted to get closer with them. Apparently his girl is a big fan of Vesper, so they talked about staging a scene where Vesper shows up and acts like a jerk so the guy can be a hero.
But there were some serious advice moments. Like “how do I fit in with people when I’m shy” or “I’ve got anxiety and I’m bad at meeting new people, what do I do” and they mostly answered seriously with doing stuff you enjoy with others. But they still kept it light-hearted with some jokes in between.
I remember one guy also went up and asked Vesper specifically how to deal with a bad hangover. And he goes: “I can give you real advice or I can tell you what I’d do. The real advice is eat oily food and drink lots of water. Pedialyte is good but if you have a hangover it’s already too late, you gotta do that before you pass out. But what I’d do is just take another shot. It’ll come back later but the present is all I care about. Give the problem to future you.”
Anyways Magni and Vesper also kept joking about a secret transmutation circle under the auditorium so technically we were all sacrificed in the end. I’m no longer of this world. The Holostar boys killed us all.
Translator Horror Stories
Now for Sunday there wasn’t too much going on. Started with a panel on Translator Horror Stories from Neil Nadelman. Most of it is how translators get a lot of harassment from fans when it comes to localizing something versus literally translating stuff. And specific cases and problems that would come up with it, especially involving puns, different cultural jokes, and related visual gags.
Like they showed one clip that was an inside joke based on a Japanese shampoo commercial from 1982 that was running at the time. How are you supposed to deal with that without writing a paragraph? It can get tricky.
One of his stories I remember was the time he pissed off the creator of Revolutionary Girl Utena for coming up with that English title for the anime instead of its more literal title of “Girls Revolution Utena”. Which was soul crushing to him because that was like the first thing they said to him when they met in person.
But it’s also frustrating to him when that kind of stuff happens because those Japanese creators usually don’t know English well enough to understand the awkward problems with certain types of translations. So to Neil that was a true translator horror story, especially because after that the creator personally picked a different translator for the Utena movie.
There was also a story about how the creator of Mobile Suit Gundam, Yoshiyuki Tomino, ruined the translation of the Miller’s Report compilation film. Apparently Tomino demanded massive dialogue changes that were nowhere near accurate to how they were in Japanese, despite having nothing to do with the film itself and not knowing English.
So because of that, Neil called him “that goddamned bald wizard” out of anger, since Tomino is very bald and thought “if you put a hat on him he would look like a wizard”. Then later this became a funny nickname that spread throughout the industry, and then leaked into the fandom itself.
But that story Neil actually considers one of his greatest accomplishments. So if you’re a Gundam fan and you’re familiar with that nickname, Neil Nadelman is supposedly who that came from.
Crunchyroll Presents: A Galaxy Next Door Premiere
After that I checked out the Crunchyroll premiere of A Galaxy Next Door which is airing this season. They showed us the first two episodes of the anime and I thought it was alright.
It was about a shoujo manga author who hires an assistant that turns out to be a princess alien girl. And through a supernatural accident they end up getting engaged immediately.
So it’s a rom-com with supernatural elements to it and a bit of background into the world of manga authors. It didn’t seem bad, but it’s airing in the same season as Tonikawa, My Love Story with Yamada-kun, and Skip and Loafer, so I’d rather watch those instead for now. Maybe I’ll go back to it later though.
Here’s some cosplay pictures I took during the con as well!
Closing Thoughts on Anime Boston 2023
And that was pretty much it for this year. Overall it was another great year at Anime Boston. It felt like there was a lot more going on this year compared to last year, so I guess we’re getting back to how the con felt before the pandemic. And most of the guests I hear at the convention also say Anime Boston is still one of the best anime events in the country. So if you get a chance to go sometime, check it out and see for yourself.
I also bought a ton of manga, fanart, and artbooks while I was there. You can check all those out in the video above or in my Twitter thread here.
Anyways, that’s all for now. If you went to Anime Boston this year, leave a comment telling me how it went for you. Or if you went to any other anime cons this year let me know how those went.