Includes panel coverage, as well as a hotel assessment.
Unfortunately, my pictures all come from my phone, so the quality is pretty variable with most of it being crap. That picture is of the hotel myself and those I roomed with stayed at; it was a short walk from the Prudential Center, which you can walk through to get into the Hynes Convention Center, and while it was definitely down-market, I was happy with the experience. If you’re looking for a place to stay for Anime Boston that is quiet and not teeming with folks running around screaming, and you don’t mind staying in a place that leaves a bit to be desired (our bathroom smelled like cat piss…), this place is a good fit. If you’re looking for the wild nightlife of the con, though, you should stick to the Sheraton of the Marriott. The other upside to the Midtown is that you don’t have to pay a fee to park your car, and parking in the Copley area is incredibly, incredibly expensive. You also don’t have to pay to store your bags on the last day of the con, and I know you do at the Sheraton. And, yeah, I said cat piss, but the room was pretty clean and the place was very quiet. I’ll stay there again next time I go.
But, hey, enough about our rockstar digs, let’s talk the con. I attended the following panels, and I’ll talk about each of them in turn:
- When Gundam Goes Bad
- Reading Too Much Into AKB0048
- Dubs That Time Forgot
- Sunrise Official Panel
- Kodansha Comics Official Panel
(There are a couple of others, but I’ll cover them in the next post.)
I wanted to go to “So You Wanna Be a Magical Girl”, but that one was unfortunately canceled last minute. I myself gave a panel with Patches from What About the Waifuz?, entitled “Bad Touch”, which was about rape culture in anime. We may give this panel again over Skype since it wasn’t recorded (I’m uncomfortable with being recorded on video), but not sure yet.
When Gundam Goes Bad
This panel was about the sillier bits of the UC portion of the franchise; the panelist, Scott Spaziani, explained at the start that he had loved Gundam Unicorn, decided to go back and watch the older UC stuff, and realized that despite the raves from viewers, a lot of the old UC stuff actually had a lot of stupid in it. Of course, ZZ Gundam got a lot of attention, and no one defends that one (there’s a reason its is the only piece of UC that has never gotten a North American release), but even 0080: War in the Pocket got its fair share. I have to admit that the presentation convinced me to try out ZZ Gundam, because it just looks so hilarious.
I do wish they’d bothered with Victory Gundam, though. But maybe Victory Gundam is the sort of thing that simply requires its own panel, heh. Also: Char likes Quess not just because she’s a Newtype, duuuhhhh, he also likes her ’cause he’s a lolicon. This is basic stuff!
Reading Too Much Into AKB0048
I liked this panel quite a bit, although the humor sometimes fell pretty flat. This will be presented again at Otakon, by the way, although one of the panelists is switching to a friend of mine, Emily, since one of the folks can’t attend Otakon. The one at Anime Boston was pretty good, and actually did get into the whole controversy outside of the anime itself having to do with one of the women getting demoted and cutting her hair because she’d been caught leaving her boyfriend’s house one morning, and boyfriends are against the AKB48 rules. Honestly, they could’ve avoided mentioning it at all and just focused on the show itself, so I was happy that they addressed that issue and the toxicity of AKB48’s culture. I think it showed true mettle on the part of the panelists, since a mega-fan very easily could’ve been in attendance and pushed back hard against that.
I really liked Viga, who was the primary panelist, and who will be at Otakon, and wish I’d had the chance to chat with her afterwards, but my friends and I hadn’t had dinner yet and there were a lot of folks talking to her already, so we left. Too bad! I should’ve taken the opportunity to chat with her! She seemed really cool.
Dubs That Time Forgot
I think this was a Featured Panel, although I could be wrong. It was given by Michael Toole, who has his own Wikipedia page, so you can just look him up. He showcased a few dubs that no one knows about anymore, and that were in a few cases never anything but obscure, such as Christopher Columbus. I was excited/horrified when I realized I’d seen some of the Christopher Columbus anime back as an elementary school student in school – as he played the OP for us, I thought, “Hmm, this sounds familiar…” and by the time the OP had wrapped up, it had managed to resurrect a long-forgotten memory of watching it in social studies class. Weird! He also showed us clips from Grey: A Digital Target, and I’m dying to see it now, since not only was the dubbing excellent in the way that obscure 90s OAV dubs were excellent (think Mad Bull 34 or MD Geist, bros), it looks hilarious. It also has nice animation!
Tokyo Mew Mew was also featured. You should try looking it up so you, too, can enjoy the fact that while “In the name of the moon, I will punish you!” is kind of cheesy, it has nothing on “Mew Mew Style, Mew Mew Grace, Mew Mew Power in your face!”
Sunrise Official Panel
Anime Boston definitely over-estimated the interest here, as this panel was in one of the cavernous ballrooms, and while the place did gain attendance across time, it was still only about half-full by the mid-point. Producer Masayuki Ozaki, who worked on Tiger & Bunny and Phi-Brain, among other things, was the featured guest. He spoke a little bit of English, but for the most part there was a woman translating for him (there were four panelists total). Ozaki seemed genuinely happy to be at the panel and thrilled that people turned out for it; this was the only panel where the audience was photographed by the presenters. Ozaki talked initially about how he hadn’t seen much of Boston yet since he’d gotten in late the night before and taken a taxi directly to the hotel, but that he’d enjoyed looking out the windows of the taxi at the misty and rainy city. He said that Boston reminded him of Kyoto because of the atmosphere and the fact that there were a lot of green spaces, and that the rainy weather seemed to suit the place. I really hope he got to see more of it than just the convention center and his hotel!
Most of the panel was taken up by talking about recent Sunrise properties, starting off with those that are legally available in North America. The panelists were surprised that anyone had seen Phi-Brain (about a dozen folks raised their hands when we were asked about it), but they were completely floored that most of the attendees had seen Valvrave. Someone commented that this would seem to indicate that Sunrise doesn’t have a very good grip on what American fans are actually watching and what they want, and I would agree that this really does seem to show that, which seems odd given that Aniplex of America was pushing Valvrave pretty hard during their panel and down in the dealers’ room.
Ozaki also spoke about how Sunrise is in talks with Viz about distribution of the Tiger & Bunny movies. Sunrise is also in negotiations with Funimation and Sentai to rescue the licenses of a lot of the titles that were previously released by Bandai Entertainment; nothing was said about particular titles here, but some of the shows depicted on this slide were Witch Hunter Robin and Gundam Wing. Sunrise has no plans to license out either Turn A Gundam or ZZ Gundam in North America, which burns pretty hard recalling that Bandai Entertainment had finally licensed Turn A Gundam but went belly-up before they even got release plans put together for it. As for Gundam Unicorn, Sunrise is releasing it through Right Stuf, and will re-release the earlier episodes that Bandai Entertainment had previously released.
A promotional video was run about the Gundam franchise which traced the history of said franchise, although I’ll note that they skipped over that whole thing about the first series being canceled during its run, heh. I loved the line about Gundam Wing: “[Gundam Wing] brought in female fans with its attractive male characters.” Really? I don’t know, I mean, the only character I wanted to date was the Wing Zero…
During Q&A, a person asked if the Big O would get a third series and if it was popular in Japan. My head almost imploded, since if you know anything about the series at all, you would know that it only got a second season because Americans liked it. I only mention the question at all since Ozaki did reveal an intriguing tidbit in his response – apparently American movie studios have periodically expressed an interest in the rights for a live action movie. Dare we dream?
Kodansha Comics Official Panel
This actually came after Sexism in Anime, but I want to hit it first since it was a very short one and I would like to break at this point before talking more panels. I was really surprised, honestly, about how ridiculously short this panel was – the non-Q&A portion was over in fifteen minutes (?!). Lone panelist Ben Applegate was a friendly guy, but I was disappointed in how little material there was to the panel, even if I wasn’t disappointed with the overall panel. It was a standard boilerplate industry panel in terms of content – talking about upcoming releases, primarily, while also talking about the fact that they were closing on being able to announce two new shoujo licenses. Lot of stuff about Sailor Moon and its success, as well as that they’re still hammering out final details on the art book release. The new Sailor Moon art book will be released simultaneously worldwide, but all the books will be printed in Japan; Applegate noted that this is good since it means the product will be exactly the same as pertains to colors in all markets, and explained that the Japanese publishing industry uses a different process for color than does the American publishing industry, which has caused problems in the past when it comes to reproduction.
For the Q&A, new volumes of various series were given away to each questioner. This seemed to encourage inane questions, though, and I’ll admit that my own question was one that could’ve been answered via Twitter, whoops. I picked up the first volume of the No. 6 manga that way, which doesn’t hit streets until next week. I was a little dismayed by the answer to my question, though – I asked specifically about Kodansha Comics publishing digitally through Barnes & Noble, since Applegate had previously said they were looking to develop apps for systems other than iOs, but the fact is that Nook would involve downloadable digital files, not just an app. Oh well.
Someone else asked about re-licensing Kaitou Saint Tail. Applegate said that there were no plans at this time, and the age of the property would weigh against it. I mention it because I would be happy to see a re-release of St. Tail, which is a cute magical girl manga involving a thief with a heart of gold, so I would really love to say that I’d love to see that and encourage all of you to speak up in favor of it getting licensed by Kodansha Comics.
Anyway, I’m going to cut off for now since dinner is getting prepped in my house, and also since this post is currently over two thousand words long. I’ll talk about the other panels, as well as my own, in my next post. I’ll also get into an overall assessment of the con itself, and which restaurants are worth your time should you hit up the con in the future. I can also promise a picture of a bottle of wine floating in a toilet cistern, which should be reason enough to check out that post.