Tag: Conventions

Anime Boston 2015: A true celebration of geek culture

Anime Boston 2015: A true celebration of geek culture

Anime conventions carry almost the opposite culture of a Megacon like PAX East, and Anime Boston is one of the best examples of the perfect fan convention. Yes, there are big anime companies who take up a large amount of space in the dealers room and have some of the largest panels at the convention, but the control and presence of those companies is easily drowned out by fan and convention culture. Anime Boston is purely a fan convention. The majority of the programing is created by fans, the tone is dictated by the fans, and the atmosphere is generated by the attendees absolute love and passion for their hobbies.

Anime conventions stopped being about anime a long time ago and I’ve written about fan convergence and sat on panels discussing it. Anime Boston still has mostly anime programing, a mostly anime themed dealers room, and it does of good job of maintaining the theme of the convention. But, being a fan run convention, looking around at what the fans are cosplaying and listen to what they are talking about is where the true culture of the convention arises. The dealers room features a ton of anime themed art but sitting along side it are League of Legends prints, Steven Universe, American comics, and a ton of other representations of pop culture. You can see the same mix of interests among cosplayers, and even in the dealers room. The majority of the sales space is dedicated to Anime merchandise but scattered among the booths are Video Game and US Comics toys and collectables, board games, art supplies, and a booth giving out samples of Mountain Dew’s newest beverages . Anime Boston’s dealers room space is so big and the taste of their attendees so diverse that you can turn one corner and be surrounded by Anime plushes and turn another and feel like you are in an entirely different place. It’s the greatest nerd flee market in the world, second only to Otakon.

We currently live in a world where Nerd culture has become pop culture. Fans who have used their love of Marvel comics as an identity for all their lives suddenly find themselves surrounded by millions of fans. Millions of dollars are being thrown into marketing to make sure everyone knows who the Guardians of the Galaxy are. So much of the comic con culture is dominated by who owns the biggest booth, who has the best celebrities show up, and who spends the most money. An anime convention is a place where people can celebrate whatever they wish. They don’t have to be steered in one direction or be drummed up by sales people to overhype the next blockbuster film. The fan convention is something alien to the normal public. It’s where the hardcore fans, the people who can still be classified as nerds for liking nerd things because of how much time and energy they put into it, can express themselves and be celebrated for that expression no matter how obscure. It’s an absolutely beautiful thing to be a part of.

But the show is still about anime. There are critics who point out that while anime conventions are attended well most of the fans there consider anime a secondary hobby to something else. Be it gaming, or Marvel movies, or a hundred different things: that is where the feeling of the fan convention truly takes over and develops. Anime in the title gets people in the door, once the fans are inside it’s up to the individual how they wish to express themselves. Anime is a weird beast that way because of how diverse the content actually is. It draws people who have wildly different interests together under the same banner.


The feeling of Anime Boston can be summed up by the Jojo’s Bizarre adventure panel that I attended. The panel wasn’t very good, it was a half hour of basic information on the show that I could have gotten from Wikipedia and the second half of it was calling fans onto the stage to make silly poses. However, the majority of the attendees loved it; shouting along and cheering. They most likely knew all the information being presented, yet they still cheered: Because someone was talking about Jojo’s. That’s really all it takes for anime fans to feel like they belong. Anime fans so rarely can connect with people about their hobbies that to see a few hundred people sharing their passion is overwhelming.

The one great change I saw to this year’s Anime Boston was a bristling Video Game room. Touho, ahead of it’s North American release, had hosted six machines to allow fans to try it or show off their skills. There were Katamari tournaments, a constantly running eight player Smash Brothers game (that I truly regret not taking part in) and every one who was playing was having a fantastic time.

Which is a theme to Anime Boston: Everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves. From those screaming fans in the Jojo’s panel, to the groups of Cosplayers doing photoshoots, and even the exhausted bundle of teenage girls laying on top of each other in the mall corridor. Every one looked satisfied. Every one looked like they belonged.

I’ve reviewed and talked about Anime Boston four or five times now. Nothing is too different. It feels like coming home every time I go back. Most of the attendees are awkward teenagers, some of them are scary sexless thirty year olds. But they are my people. They will always be my be my people, no matter how much I believe to have out grown them.

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PAX East 2015: Where is gaming culture?

PAX East 2015: Where is gaming culture?

ideo Game fans go to PAX East for a dozen reasons. They want to see the latest games. They want to get swag. They want to meet people they only knew online. As far as I can tell there is only one real reason that PAX East exists:

PAX East is a place to play games.

I fear I won’t be returning to PAX East for the same reason I won’t ever be going back to New York Comic Con or the reason I will stay away from San Diago Comic Con forever. The convention is a place to show people what will be coming out in the next six months. I don’t need a place to learn what will be coming out in the next six months. I know what will be coming out in the next six months. I have the internet.

There is a specific class of people who simply are not internet people. Who don’t bother to look up games, only scratch the surface of their hobby online and spend the vast majority of their time actually playing games with their friends. Those are the people who the PAX East Expo hall is for. Those are the people who the big gaming panels are for. The last New York Comic Con I visited had a panel that just showed gameplay of the then upcoming Batman Arkham City. Just gameplay, maybe a little discussion from the developers. I would rather not spend $60, wait in long lines, spend a fortune on food, and deal with an awkward hoard of nerds just to watch a gameplay clip of a game that will be coming out in a few weeks. A clip that I can find online and watch in the comfort of my own home.

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Convention Report: New York Comic Con 2011


It’s hard to say anything about New York Comic Con that hasn’t already been said, or that isn’t a repeat from what I talked about last year’s show. The event was definitely bigger than last year and the space was far better utilized than last year with them opening up the North Hall for the autograph area. Of course, this being Comic Con, even with the large show space the crowding was horrible. Building a multi-genre show has its positives and negatives but I fear that Comic Con may have finally crossed the line into being more of swap meet with a theater showing clips from upcoming pop culture hits rather than a space to celebrate any type of fandom.

IMG_1777.jpgThe main component of New York Comic Con is undeniably the show floor. A massive space that serves as both a dealers room and a place where marketing professionals can attempting to push their new products on con-goers, a space for meeting your favorite artists and writers, or check out some fantastic indie art pieces. The show floor comes with all the spectacle that you’d expect from a geek event that takes place in one of the largest cities in the world. This is, unfortunately, a double edged sword. While the show floor is so large as to keep attendees busy for an entire weekend it is also the main place where the majority of people will be concentrated. Over all three days it was difficult to get from one end of the floor to the other. There is a constant fight against the raging mod to see anything and if you happen to be stuck behind someone who wants to take a photo the halls immediately get blocked with dozens of people fighting, not realizing that they’ve been halted by a guy with a camera phone and desire to get a third picture of Captain America. They’ll always be something to enjoy on the show floor, but be ready to fight in order to see it.


Surprisingly, this is an improvement over last year. The anime section of the show floor experienced a massive traffic jam making that entire area impassable. This year the anime booths were spread throughout the floor, making it hard to hit all of them but it ensured that they were actually approachable. Overall, space between booths was much improved and even though the crowds were difficult to move through there were no complete jams like last year. It seems they did everything possible to increase the flow of traffic, if only they could prevent people from stopping and gawking at



The biggest question hovering over the convention this year was if the anime section would be improved or continue to become a shrinking piece of the convention. Well, while anime artist alley was moved from the basement to the gallery at the very top of the convention center it was still a difficult place simply to stumble upon. One needed to go up two escalators, following large signs, even to get to the area. Once there the artist alley was spacious and easy to browse and at the end of the gallery was a massive space which contained dozens of tables, some snack vendors, and the dreaded anime stage. Last year New York Anime Festival had a decent assortment of fan panels in small rooms. This year the only anime fan panels excepted were forced to perform on a stage, which forced the presenter to speak to a massive room where the majority of people were just sitting and chatting, not even caring what was happening on the stage. This worked for some of the game shows, like cosplay dating game, but I cringed through Aaron Clark’s Evangelion Deconstructed panel as he attempted to present serious analysis over the low rumble of crowd noise and the shouting of memes.

It’s clear that the anime fans and the comics fan simply don’t mesh together. New York Comic Con is evolving to become closer and closer to San Diego, a direction that I dread. Instead of eagerly waiting for fans speaking to fans and building a sense of community San Diego Comic Con is about room sitting all day to hear actors talk about films and television shows that are due to be released in the next few months. That isn’t a convention to me, the same task can be accomplished by reading an interview or checking a Hollywood news site. I go to conventions for the community, to see people I only know online and to experience fans speaking about their passion.

There are two main reason for the divide between the anime and comics fans. The first is simply age. Anime convention attendees tend to be younger and are more focused on hanging out with their friends than browsing through rows of comics looking for a rare issue. The other, and more important, reason behind why these two groups can’t seem to coexist is a difference in philosophy when it comes to the art. Comics fans come to these conventions to see footage of upcoming movies and get exclusive comics from the big publishers, they come to these conventions as consumers of media. Anime fans have developed a culture where they get most of their content for free on the internet, be it through illegal fan subs or the many legal steaming services. There is no surprising an anime fan with new titles or “exclusive” content because of the delay, even with simulcasting, it takes to licenses and release media from Japan. Anime fans don’t come to conventions to consume anime, they come to participate in the fandom, hang out with their friends, and buy additional merchandise.

The unfortunate fact about New York Comic Con, to quote Christopher MacDonald from Anime News Network at Sunday’s ANN Q&A panel: “It’s really good for the industry, it kind of sucks for us. Well, it’s good for me as a business but it’s not so good for fans.” The sheer number of people walking through the show room floor is always going to be good for the licensing companies and allows them to expose their titles to fans outside the group that normally goes to anime conventions. That being the case the way New York Comic Con was this year will probably be the way it’s going to stay, and as much as I might not like the state of the convention if this draws more fans towards the medium than it is completely justified. We’ll always have Otakon.


Anime News Network

Anime News Network panels are always fun as they allow the people fans have come to know through their writing to interact and answer questions. In New York there were some extremely well thought out questions asked to the panel, as well as the normal awkward “how can I write for ANN” questions. For a group of writers they are surprisingly adept at handling their interesting fan base.

Evangelion, Deconstructed

As always Aaron Clark put on an excellent panel going over some of the visual, cultural, and narrative references used the Neon Genesis Evangelion. Clark seems to have an endless supply of knowledge on the subject and will always surprise even the longest Evangelion fans with some tiny tidbit. The anime stage wasn’t the ideal place for his panel to be held as he was being drowned out by the low rumble of the mass of fans sitting and going about their business. He handled the situation professionally, not even letting a minor technical glitch to get in his way. If you like Evangelion his panels, and his website are highly recommended.

Makoto Shinkai

The highlight of the convention of me was getting to meet Makoto Shinkai, sit down for an interview with him, get an autograph, and watch his newest film “Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below.” I’ve been a huge fan of his for a few years and it was a great honor and opportunity. If Shinkai hadn’t been a guest at this convention this report would be a lot more negative. Read my interview with him, watch the excellent Makoto Shinkai spotlight panel with Roland Kelts, and I’ll have a review of “Children Who Chase…” up in the next few weeks.

Hiro Mashima Interview

I was able to sit down with Fairy Tail mangaka Hiro Mashima. It was an interesting talk especially since I was paired with two bloggers from South America who made the long trip to New York Comic Con!


Comic Con is a difficult place to take photos because I don’t want to be like the people I mentioned above. So I was reserved, far more reserved, than I usually am. I did get lots of very pretty photos of toys though!

My Loot

I didn’t pick up much at New York Comic Con because of the logical problem with bringing loot back on the train. But I did get a few really cool items.

This adorable Kagami figure who is looking her most Tsundere.

A wonderful Squid Girl art book complete with a flipbook printed onto the side of the pages.

Makoto Shinkai autographed copy of 5 Centimeters Per Second. Now the crown jewel of my Anime DVD collection.


More New York Comic Con 2011 Coverage

Deconstructing The Washington Post’s “Awkward moments at Baltimore anime convention”

I just stared… and stared… because that’s how photography works

There is one thing that every geek out there can agree on; mainstream media does not understand geek culture. The internet is a way to gather contacts for them, nothing more. They divorce themselves from all joy and stand on their pillars looking down on the world judging without any actual qualifications or experience.

Well, obvious hyperbole aside, it really doesn’t seem like the mainstream media is capable of understanding geek culture. Again, they send a general reporter to walk among super fans and the media comes out with a story condemning them for celebrating their passion. The piece “Awkward moments at Baltimore anime convention as art form comes of age” written by Josh Freedom du Lac for the Washington Post frames Otakon using the recent conviction of Michael A. Alper. Mr. du Lac never intended to write a story about the convention itself, he wanted to take advantage of a recent event and condemn the attendees of anime conventions for the perverts they are.

This style of journalism reminds me of Mark Twain’s story “How I edited an Agricultural paper” where the main character, after making up facts about agricultural in his featured pieces and being condemned for it confidently declares, “It’s the first time I ever heard such an unfeeling remark. I tell you I have been in the editorial business going on fourteen years, and it is the first time I ever heard of a man’s having to know anything in order to edit a newspaper.”  That is, unfortunately, how the general media works. They can’t keep an expert on staff about every subject so they need to do the best they can with the best they have, and sometimes it backfires.

So now I present one of my patented deconstructions, a tactic that I do not employ often the most famous example being when Eric Sherman wrote his now infamous post declaring anime in the United States dead. This time is a little different, because I am dealing with someone who is coming completely outside the community. This time I’m not going to be arguing against this piece, because the vast majority of the anime community has already rejected the piece as alarmist and silly. My deconstruction this time will be far more humorous than intelligent commentary. I hope you enjoy it.

We begin with the title, “Awkward moments at Baltimore anime convention as art form comes of age” which really doesn’t mean anything. “Awkward moments at Baltimore Anime convention” sounds like a series of photos or a cute story of social awkwardness, not a piece that should run by a professional journalistic institution about dangerous perverts hunting down young girls. The accusation that anime is just “coming of age” is a bad pun. The article has nothing to do with anime as an art form, it’s simple being insulting and minimizing of a medium that has been around since the early 1960s and which exploded in the United States ten years ago. But, yeah, the Washington post needed a catchy title.

“Madoka! Madoka!” a man shouted, and the 16-year-old dressed as a 14-year-old Japanese cartoon schoolgirl stopped in the middle of the Baltimore Convention Center. “Can I take a picture?”

She nodded, then struck a pose as Madoka Kaname, the “magical girl” character she was dressed as last weekend at Otakon, the annual festival of Japanese cartoons that once again turned the Inner Harbor into the epicenter of all things anime.

Her costume included a Day-Glo pink wig with pigtails, white knee-high stockings, a red choker and a short pink-and-white dress that Little Bo Peep might have worn on a day she wanted to alarm her parents.

The man, who appeared to be in his mid-30s, pointed his digital camera at the make-believe Madoka, snapped a photo . . . and then stared.

And stared.


Josh Freedom du Lac doesn’t mention how polite the gentleman was when asking for the photo. Seemed like a nice guy, not some pervert with a zoom lens standing forty feet away and snapping photographs covertly. This was a man who shared an interest with the girl, and complimented her costume by asking for a photo. Of course, du Lac draws the scene to have you believe that this man was going to masturbate to the photo later in his hotel room. Jumping to conclusions a bit, aren’t we?

What does “stared” mean exactly? He was taking a photograph! I genuinely don’t look away from the subject I’m photographing. This sounds like perfectly normal behavior and the author wants to toss him in prison. Being a writer, du Lac might not be familiar with the careful art of photography. A basic principle of the process: Looking at your subject. The detailed description of the Madoka costume might make me believe that Mr. du Lac was staring at the young girl as well.

“It can sometimes be very weird,” the teenager said of her convention encounters with overly interested older men. “But they really don’t mean any harm.”


Between the photographer, the girl cosplaying, and the Washington Post writer observing the event the only one who seems to be worried about the exchange is du Lac, who was watching the 16 year old girl being photographed. Again, looking at the subject is a perfectly normal part of photography. But is staring at young girls a part of covering Otakon for the Washington Post? I’m questioning why they let this guy into Otakon; forget the forty year old anime fans.

This is a delicate time on the anime convention circuit, where a demographic shift has created an occasionally unseemly and sometimes dangerous dynamic.

Men have long been the foundation of the genre’s fan base, but they’ve been joined in increasing numbers by teen girls, whose embrace of the medium’s more fantastical side has helped launch anime to new levels of stateside popularity.

Men haven’t been the foundation of anime’s fan base, which is a medium not a genre, for over ten years. Even when I attended Anime Boston in 2003 there was a healthy number of fangirls, believe me I heard them during the Gundam Wing voice actor panel.

Conventions that were once cult gatherings attended almost exclusively by VHS-trading college-age (and older) males are now overflowing with young females, many of them sporting various iterations of anime’s popular doe-eyed, scantily clad look.


I really wish they would stop using the term “newspaper” because VHS-trading is in the ancient past of anime fandom. I don’t know where this guy is getting his information. Perhaps Usenet? Maybe he subscribes to a fanzine?

The author then goes on to discuss Katsucon’s policy change to check preregistration list against the sex-offender registry, a policy that the con-going community has universally declared alarmist and ineffectual. He actually asks one of the Otakorp board of directors if they’ll be instituting a similarly ineffectual policy at their convention.

Jennifer Piro, a member of the board of directors for Otakorp, the nonprofit group that produces Otakon, said that “no decision has been made” to introduce a similar policy at their convention.

Otakon, she said, has taken precautions to protect minors. All attendees younger than 12, for instance, must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times, and adult-themed programming is presented late at night, for those with 18-and-over wristbands. But, Piro said, Otakon “is not a babysitting service.”

I love how du Lac makes sure to highlight the quote “is not a babysitting service” as if Otakon is the villain for not thinking of all the young girls who might have their picture taken by older men. Nothing Piro told the Washington Post should be a surprise or a concern. The policies that anime conventions have to keep children away from material they shouldn’t see have always been in effect, and it’s rare when businesses want kids younger than twelve in their stores when not attended by an adult let alone a weekend long event with over thirty-thousand people. This isn’t news worth printing, this is standard convention policy.

“We want to do everything we can to keep our attendees safe,” she said. “But there’s only so much you can do. . . . There are definitely sketchy people out there. They could be at the mall. They could be at McDonald’s. This is still the real world.”


I love how Piro just destroys any argument that du Lac has in this piece with the quote above, and du Lac simply quotes it, ignores the wisdom of it, and continues with his alarmist message. Let me explain this quote to the author: Sketchy people don’t just go to anime conventions, anime conventions attract a large number of people and some people happen to be sketchy. In any large gathering you’re going to have an unsavory character or two hanging around. There are many places where young girl wear skimpy outfits. The beach, for one. Men with the Cameras won’t be asking permission for photographs at the beach.

Anime is a broad medium that ranges from the purely innocent to the pornographic. Some of it fetishizes young girls.

The Alper arrest and conviction became a hot topic among anime fans, some of whom fear being further stigmatized. (Many of them already think that other people consider them geeks who live in their parents’ basements.)

You’re the person who is casting that stigma on anime fans! This is a hit piece; don’t try to pretend like it is anything else. The reason why stigma exists on anime fans is because of people freaking out over a little pornography or some socially inept kid making a Death Note. Each time the media takes these stories and blows them out of proportion, because fear sells. Especially fear of those strange Japanese cartoons. Look at what du Lac wrote a little further in:

But an uncomfortable undercurrent is obvious. Just consider the visual snapshot of attendees at any anime convention now.

“You get hundreds and hundreds of young girls in skimpy costumes . . . and then you have older male anime fans,” Diederichs said. “The juxtaposition of the two may not look entirely wholesome.

So with one hand du Lac explains to his readers that male convention attendees don’t want to be stigmatized, and then he just manages to get a quote which declares that anime conventions are unwholesome places. I have a feeling his editor made him put in something from the side of the males, because the two quotes from Anime News Network forums where a user reacted to Alper by saying it will alienate him even more when he attends anime conventions seems out of place. I can’t help but think the ANN quotes weren’t used with some since of irony as du Lac spends the rest of the article condemning the content at Otakon.

Everywhere you looked, there were older girls dressed as little girls and little girls dressed as littler girls — and grown men taking photos of all of them. Sometimes, the men asked for hugs, too.

“There’s a little bit of perviness,” said Jamie Blanco, who was cosplaying a teenager from the hit anime series “Bleach.” (In real life, she’s in her 20s and the morning-drive producer for Federal News Radio.) The majority of people who attend anime conventions, she said, are there “because of a pure love” of the art form, its characters and stories. “But there are definitely a small percentage who come here to hug up on some of the younger girls — and younger boys.”


It’s disgusting how vile du Lac paints anime conventions. From his description, you’d think that the only reason anime conventions exist is to fetishize young girls. Never once is it mentioned that the reason most of the characters being cosplayed are teenagers or younger is because popular anime is generally targeted at teenagers. Would he feel as weird if a 25 year old was dressed as Hermione from Harry Potter? That also happens all the time at geek events.

The poor cosplayer he interviewed, Jamie Blanco, probably had no idea that the fact she was dressed as a teenager would be used against her. The only reason to point that out is to increase the perception that cosplay culture’s main focus is the fetishization of little girls. du Lac tosses in Blanco’s comment about the fans love for the art but that is lost in the paragraph because of the remark about her cosplaying a teenager and the quote the ends the paragraph, where Blanco states a coerced statement about perverts coming to hug young girls. Does that exist? I’m sure there are a handful of people, but framing it with remarks about the fetishization of young girls makes it sound like a widespread problem. As if the event’s goal is to give older men a chance to hug up on girls and girls dressed like little girls. Even if that isn’t du Lac’s goal, that is the message a paranoid person will walk away with.

At the trade bazaar in the bowels of the Convention Center, one could buy all the too-short schoolgirl outfits one would ever need. Also on offer: hentai, or pornographic comics, some of which leaned Lolita.

If I didn’t have you convinced of du Lac’s obvious distaste for Otakon this paragraph should change your mind. He calls the dealer’s room a “trade bazaar” hidden in the “bowels” of the convention center. That conjures an image of dusty tents manned by turban sporting con men, maybe with an eye patch or two. It certainly doesn’t give the image of the sterile concrete hall filled with book vendors and plastic dolls. The only items he tells his readers, a general audience most of which will never go to an Anime convention, are fetishized costumes and child pornography. Again, is du Lac telling the truth? Of course he is, that stuff is available at every anime convention I’ve ever been too. Du Lac is using it to take advantage of the emotions of his readers and sway them to accept his general thesis; Otakon is a dangerous place for young girls.

In 1994, before anime moved in from the outer edges of fringe culture in the United States, David Stoliker attended the first Otakon. He has turned out every year since. He is 43 now, a physical therapist from Long Island. His summary of the demographic shift at Otakon: “There are definitely people who can wear skimpier costumes a little better.”


I’m going to assume that quote isn’t completely taken out of context, perhaps after a ten minute conversation with Mr. Stoliker. Oh wait, no I’m not.

But don’t take that the wrong way, he said. Most of what happens at Otakon “isn’t prurient. It’s certainly not criminal.” An encounter like the one between a registered sex offender and a 13-year-old at Katsucon, he said, “can happen anywhere. People tend to draw attention to it when it happens in an unusual environment.”


Again, du Lac adds another tiny aside that states the obvious. Anime conventions aren’t hot beds of sex crime. It’s clear that du Lac doesn’t believe that. Every contrary opinion to the idea “Otakon is full of perverts” comes as a quote, never through the author’s own words, and this one is framed by the “skimpier customers” bit and the ending of the piece which recounts a Pedobear cosplayer’s antics. Any bit of the article meant to disrupt the author’s quest to slander the anime community is buried in a series of frightening descriptions and facts meant to lead readers into fearing Otakon.

A man dressed in a “Pedobear” costume was there, portraying the creepy satirical mascot that first emerged on the Internet as a way to mock inappropriate behavior in anime Web forums. Pedobears are regulars at anime cons, where many attendees appear to be in on the joke.

“Everybody loves Pedobear,” Travon Smith, the 20-year-old Baltimore man inside the sweltering teddy-bear suit, said — while assuring anyone within earshot that he is not, in fact, a pedophile. He also is not endorsed by Otakon but came to the conference as a paid attendee. “It’s all a joke,” he said. “Just people having fun.”

In his costume, Smith posed for photos and shook hands. People laughed. A young girl hugged Pedobear.


Clearly du Lac doesn’t want his readers to believe that Travon Smith is doing this “all in fun” but is somehow plotting to commit several dozen sex crimes… as girls voluntarily offer to hug him while he is wearing a cute bear suit. That’s the point of Pedobear. He is a symbol of innocence that is twisted by an idea of child pornography. He is a joke, an elaborate joke but a joke nonetheless.

Joking aside, Josh Freedom du Lac’s piece is nothing more than the worst kind of journalism. He went into Otakon with a story in mind; he was going to frame it with the sentencing of Michael A. Alper and point out how creepy anime conventions are. However, he doesn’t get any evidence to back that up besides his own skewed observations and some questionable quotes. Most of the quotes he uses can be summed up as “It isn’t that big a deal” and yet the author’s commentary of the convention makes it out to be an incubator for sex crimes. Because of this, the piece is poorly structured and the message is lost as he ping pongs between quotes from people who love anime culture and his dark views of the world of anime conventions. His observations, such as pointing out that everyone is cosplaying teenage girls or pointing out that Hentai is available at conventions, are obvious ploys to get the readers emotionally startled, thus bringing them onto his side.

The scary part is the readers of this piece. It’s aimed at an audience that is willing to believe that anime fandom, a classically misunderstood subculture in the United States, is full of perverts who lust after young girls. It is a borderline hit piece with the potential to force anime fans that are already reluctant to talk about their passion into a more reclusive position. This isn’t something the anime community needs, especially with the licensing industry finally stabilizing.

Will this article have any lasting affect? I doubt it. It certainly isn’t doing anything to improve the image of the anime community. Josh du Lac doesn’t give any mention of the $65,000 the attendees raised for Japan relief or how the community gives relief to people who otherwise feel out of place in their school or local community. No, du Lac writes about fear mongering because that’ll get more hits on the Washington Post website.

I’m sure among the 30,000 people who attended Otakon there were some bad seeds. However, as I’ve stated above, a public beach is a far more vulnerable location for young girls to hang out, and they are dressed in far less while sunbathing than they are while enjoying Japanese Cartoons. You also don’t need to pay admission to a beach, most of the time, yet because of Alper we get a piece on how dangerous anime conventions are. I’m sure most of it will be forgotten the next time a young girl gets raped at a mall.

Convention Report: Anime Boston 2011

I returned to the Hynes Convention Center for Anime Boston 2011, the largest anime convention in New England and second largest on the East Coast. More than any Anime convention I’ve been to Anime Boston pushes both high quality panels; many of them academic in theme; a large industry presence, constant concerts running throughout the night, and a united fandom who have gathered to celebrate Japanese animation. The convention comes with an energy, a rush, that makes it seem like the fandom isn’t so small, that anime in America isn’t obscure, and; most importantly; that as a fan you are not alone.

Infamously, the young fandom at Anime Boston is rambunctious. There wasn’t an end to people running through halls shouting their “Marco polo” and “butt scratcher” games and the youthful air was enough to make one feel old, maybe too old for the event. However, Anime Boston had programing for everyone whether you wanted to ask your favorite voice actor a question, wanted to get some in depth discussions on Japanese culture, or simply wanted to be entertained by a lineup of concerts and humorous panels. There was something at Anime Boston for everyone.

Mari Iijima Concert

Mari Iijima, famous for playing Lynn Minmei in Macross, put on a wonderful concert Friday evening. She plays a soft, piano style Japanese Pop and spoke candidly with the audience, which is rare for a Japanese pop star. I hope all JPop singers age as well as Iijima, she had a confidence and honesty that younger stars hide in favor of their bubbly, friendly personas. When Iijima spoke to the audience it felt like she was speaking from her heart, a feeling I do not get from other Japanese Pop starts I’ve seen live.

The highlight was when she performed the fantastic song “Do you remember Love” from the Macross film of the same name. While I’ve never seen Macross (shame!) the song is famous among Japanese pop culture fans, or should be. It is a beautiful song and it was preformed beautifully. I could tell that Iijima enjoys playing that song as much as the fans love hearing it.

Spike Spencer



I was able to get an autographic from and sat down to a press only Q&A panel with Spike Spencer, famous for portraying Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. He has pretty much the opposite personality from Shinji, he was full of energy, confidence, and arrogance that made him enjoyable to watch and be around.

I got an old reproduction cell signed, and defaced, by him along with the insert poster from the End of Evangelion DVD. It was crazy seeing someone who has played a character that had a profound impact on my life and have him be so different from my expectations.


Anime Boston is known for their high quality anime related panels. I was able to get a good sampling of panels ranging from the serious academic discussions to the fun fan panels featuring roleplaying and cosplay.

Charles Dunbar, who has been a guest on the podcast,  did a whole block of fantastic academic panels only two of which I was able to see. The first was a look at the work of the master himself in a panel called, Castles, Forests, and Bath Houses: The world of Hayao Miyazaki. The panel was heavily based on Miyazaki’s autobiography explaining some of the inspiration and thought processes that Miyazaki was going through when he made his films. Hearing the films described in context of where Miyazaki the man was mentally when the films were created was an emotional experience for any serious fan of the master. Miyazaki has Charles to thank for selling copies of Miyazaki’s autobiography Starting Point: 1979 – 1996. I find myself desperate for more detail on what Charles only hinted at in the panel.

The second of Charles’ panels I saw was his Shinigami panel “Dead like us” which examines the history of the Shinigami in Japanese pop culture and religion, and the relationship the Japanese have with death. Again, Charles does a great job of breaking down the elements that make up the various Shinigami characters, defining them, and showing how they manifest themselves in various Anime and Manga. He is working on turning the panel into a series of posts on his blog, Studyofanime.com, so if you’re unable to see the panel live I suggest you check it out.

The Dark Side of Pokemon was a fun fan run panel where the participant’s role played as gym leaders and various characters from the Pokemon games as they lectured about the subtle, creepy aspects of the Pokemon franchise. There were some obvious things, like the music from Lavender Town, but others that aren’t so disturbing at first glance like several questionable pokedex entire. I caught the panel on video for any Pokemon fans that didn’t make it into the room.

Gundam in a Skirt presented by Will Kusleika was a look at the similarities between Robot and Magical Girl shows from themes to the format. The comparisons were fascinating, especially when he showed two nearly identical transformation sequences one from a robot show and one from a Magical Girl show. I wasn’t able to stay for the entire panel but it seemed like a great time for fans of vintage anime.

The one unfortunate panel I sat through was From Fanboy to Industry Pro with voice actor J. Michael Tatum. Tatum came with no prepared material, opting to take questions from the audience. Few of the questions were on topic, the majority of them being about his acting roles and his personal experience as an actor. The one good piece of advice I came out of the panel with was, “Bring your passion to whatever project or job you have.” Meaning that it would be ideal if we all could get a job in a field we’re passionate about, but realistically we should try to bring our passion to our jobs. Find an area in your job that excites you and use that energy to help you succeed. Otherwise it was a bit of a waste. Most of the voice actor non-Q&A panels end up similar; the actors tend to agree to panels without really thinking them through.

Of course the Funimation panel was a Funimation panel. They played a few trailers and got me excited about Excel Saga, but otherwise didn’t have much new to bring to the table. Aria of the Scarlet Ammo was announced as a simulcast but nothing else of note. I have some video of the Q&A here.

Dealer’s Room

There was nothing new or surprising in the dealer’s room, all of the standard merchandise with a few figures showing up for some newer series. Working!! And Angel Beats! figures were welcome surprises but the vast majority of merchandise was still K-On! and Haruhi. Nothing has really penetrated the fandom to displace those two giants yet. There is also an increase in some classic figures, I saw a newly issued Lum on display and some dolls from Lupin the Third. I don’t know how well they sell in the US but it’s comforting to see some of the older series come back.

Judging from the two days I was at the convention I didn’t see many items moving. For the most part the dealers I visited first thing on Friday didn’t look much different before they closed on Saturday. The one exception is that a dealer had the Wagnaria!! Premium edition and sold out of it when I returned to buy it. NISA has also officially sold out, according to Rightstuf who’ll receive one more shipment. It’s surprising to see such a standard, although quality, slapstick show gains such popularity. I didn’t many of those Wagnaria!! figures moving so I’m not sure exactly how popular the show is among the general anime fan.

Here is what I walked away from the Dealer’s Room with:

Artist Alley

The artist alley didn’t look too different this year from last year. Like the dealer’s room nothing has really changed from previous years and other conventions. There was a lot more Doctor Who art than I’ve ever seen before, and that is a welcome change and a good sign of the increasing popularity of the Doctor. There were only a few My Little Pony art prints, to my disappointment, and one artist had pony themed bags for sale! I think by next year My Little Pony will be ubiquitous across all vendors at the Artist Alley, at least I hope so.

Here is what I walked away from the Artist Alley with:


The one big trend I saw in Cosplay was tons of Pokemon, but that isn’t surprising considering the new games have just been released. The Hetalia cosplay craze has seemed to die down; I maybe saw one or two groups of them. Of course, Naruto cosplayers are still out in full force.

Here are the highlights from the photos I took over the weekend:



More from Anime Boston 2011