Restaurant critiques, a bottle of wine in a toilet cistern, and more panels, among other things.
When I saw that sign at the New England Comics booth, I knew it’d be remiss of me to not snap a picture of it. So now I share it with the world for your edification.
I’ll talk panels before hitting the rest. Those I attended and haven’t mentioned yet are Sexism in Anime and (Still) Dead Like Us: A Journey Through the Afterlife.
Sexism in Anime
Another example of Anime Boston being seriously off in assessing interest in events, except in this case they wildly underestimated interest – the line went around the corner and waaay down the main third floor hallway, and dozens of people were shut out of it because of fire codes. I was able to get in despite not lining up ages in advance because Patches, one of the panelists, had accidentally included my name on the panel submission form, so the staffer working the room said it was fine for me to go in and sit down. The other panelist was Emily. So, yes, I knew both the panelists, so I may be biased… but I thought it was a really great panel, and I base that, too, on the audience and their interaction with the panelists. Panel content only lasted a half hour, but the questions portion was interesting and very mature – lot of good discussion went on, and there wasn’t a single person who seemed to be there acting in poor faith.
I’ll note that Patrick will be posting the slides from the panel on his Tumblr sometime this week, so you can take a look over it. Both will be presenting the panel at Otakon as well, and I can’t recommend it enough. They do a great job of looking at sexism in anime, and in the industry, and they talk about why this matters and why people should care about it. Hopefully Otakon gives them a larger venue than Anime Boston did.
(Still) Dead Like Us: A Journey Through the Afterlife
I wasn’t originally going to this since there was a different panel scheduled at the same time that I wanted to go to, but I was persuaded to go by Patches (who knows the panelist, Charles Dunbar), and it turned out to be the sort of panel that could’ve been made with a person like me in mind. I studied religion in college, and I’m planning to get my master’s in it post-deployment; I also find Japanese culture outside of anime (and within anime, since obviously anime doesn’t exist in a vacuum!) really interesting, so, well, I was thrilled with this panel. I did have to leave early, though, which was a bummer.
Charles Dunbar was definitely a whole other sort of panelist from anyone else who presented at the con. Its a bit hard to describe, especially in a way that doesn’t sound like I’m being snide – he was just different, immersed in his material in a way that no one else I’ve ever watched give a panel has been. He obviously was incredibly knowledgeable, and he made his material come completely alive; it could’ve been a very dry panel, but it was the sort of panel where it wouldn’t’ve shocked me at all had he leapt off the stage and started strolling up and down the aisles. Its the sort of thing you just have to see, and I highly recommend you take a chance to check out one of his panels if you the opportunity ever arises, as I’m sure his other panels are just as fascinating. I had the chance to meet him (as a friend of mine knows him), and I’m bummed I was unable to (I left the panel early as I was going downstairs to meet a cool person I’ll mention later in this post in the Artists’ Alley).
There was a lot of material, and I couldn’t possibly cover it all here, nor do I want to cadge material like that, but I do want to mention what he said about the shinigami. Shinigami, as it turns out, are a relatively new concept in Japanese folk tradition, and seem to have come from European traditions about reapers and angels of death. They developed in the culture sometimes between the 1700s and 1800s, so this is a pretty damn new addition to the culture. I find syncreticism utterly intriguing in a general sense, so I loved learning about this.
The panel I presented with Patches. I’m not going to talk too much about content, since you can go see our slides at What About the Waifuz?, and we are talking about presenting this via the internet (the next time I’d be able to do this panel in person would be Otakon 2014, which is a reallllllllly long way off, and I don’t know it Patches is interested in doing that).
We had a decent-sized crowd, although certainly not the packed house Sexism in Anime had, likely since we were an 18+ panel that was scheduled opposite of more traditional hentai panels, as well as a panel involving Gundam (Women of Gundam, which I wish I could’ve myself attended!). The crowd we did have was wonderfully mature, and the Q&A portion went really well; definitely had a solid discussion about many things with our attendees, my favorite bit of which concerned Kashimashi. One of the attendees pointed out that one of my examples of yuri (in contrast to “yuri”, i.e. “girl-on-girl” content in non-yuri shows that exists solely to thrill us and has no real goal otherwise, such as Kyou groping Kotomi in Clannad even as the two are in competition for Tomoya) involved a boy turning into a girl in Hazumu. I replied that I could understand why she was critical of that, but that I myself interpreted Hazumu as a trans character given that she never had any angst over the sex change, and Patches added that Hazumu seemed much more comfortable and happy as a girl rather than as a boy. There’s never any question about trying to find ways for Hazumu to regain a male body, either, by Hazumu herself or any of the cast members. I completely get this criticism of the show – and I think its valid, too! – but I also think Hazumu is trans. (I’m not sure if the questioner liked my response, though – she talked to Patches after the panel, but not me >_>)
I also had my weirdest con moment while giving this panel. I ended up… well, someone asked a question about whether BL has more non-consensuality than other genre, and I ended up talking about how with yuri there’s been more diversity of late in its offerings, i.e. content is being created that actually deliberately appeals to actual lesbians. And then I sort of realized that if I didn’t give greater context, it might seem inappropriate for me to allege that there is yuri manga now that resonates with gay women. Soooo I outed myself, something I always feel really awkward doing, and I was kind of flustered, and I’m a little concerned people thought that that was weird of me. I just wanted to ensure that people realized I was speaking in part from personal experience and not just blowing hot air.
Final bit – in the future, need to do a better job of stressing that when I said “good” rapist, I meant that the anime or manga thought that the rapist was a good person, not that I thought they were. There seemed to be some confusion there – there’s no such thing as a good rapist! These are mutually exclusive terms!
EDIT: I actually want to point out that I really wanted to tell our audience at the end that I looooooooved them. You folks were legit terrific. I’m so happy you came to our panel, and I hope you weren’t disappointed!
I had a few real meals during the con (as opposed to myself and one of my friends giggling like morons in the hotel lobby at 5:30 a.m. as we ate doughnuts and a loaf of bread while the staff desperately tried to ignore our existence), and was pretty pleased with the experience. I braved the food court in the Prudential Center for lunch the first day, and ate food from Sarku, which is a Japanese restaurant that is a bit of a food court staple in the Boston area. Happily, this one didn’t abuse the MSG like their other locations do, so my chicken teriyaki was pretty good. Sarku also gets points for having a better system than most of the other restaurants did – they had one worker standing next to the line halfway back who took the order, wrote a number on a piece of paper, and handed it over. One then gave that paper to the people behind the counter, who made the food the number corresponded to. Then, step along and pay, step along and receive your food. It really reduced confusion and made the process quite efficient.
The other restaurants I hit up were Chili Duck, a Thai place that was across from the convention center along Boylston, and Legal Seafood, which is a small-ish, slightly up-market seafood chain. In both cases I was quite happy with them in large part because of the atmosphere – fairly calm, probably because the prices were above what the louder con attendees (read: high schoolers) could afford. I was a bit disappointed in the Thai tea served at Chili Duck, which was weak and not hot enough, but the food itself left me happy and full. Legal Seafood was shockingly uncrowded for a Saturday evening, which may owe to how unbelievably massive their dining room was, so it turned out to be a good choice for myself and my fellow tired con-goers.
General Notes About Area Businesses/Places
- I didn’t use the Dunkin Donuts which is right by the door from the Pru into the convention center because it was ridiculously, madly crowded the entirety of the con. For those willing to venture outside, there is a Dunkin about a sixth of a mile down the road on Boylston and on the opposite side of the street from the con. It was much, much less crowded than the Dunkin in the Pru, so I highly recommend going there instead to sate your doughnut cravings.
- The Walgreens across the street from the Hynes is open 24 hours, so if you need something like a hairbrush or you forgot a toothbrush, you’ve got a convenient place to go pick that up. Myself and a couple of my room-mates even did so ourselves Friday night because I completely forgot a hairbrush.
- Speaking of 24 hours, the Shaw’s that is attached to the Pru is also 24 hours, so if you’ve got a late night burst of hunger, check it out. They’ve also got a full liquor selection (in Massachusetts, every place that sells liquor must have a license, and the number of licenses is limited, so most grocery stores only sell wine and beer), although that isn’t 24 hours itself. Just, please, don’t go there if you’re an annoying drunk – the folks who work there are really nice people, don’t give them trouble.
- Looking for a quiet place to check your email and surf the net? Try the Boston Public Library, which is located closer to Copley Square on the same side of Boylston as the convention center. It’s a massive building, taking up an entire city block, so there is no way you could miss it at all. Please also drop a dollar or a few into their donation box in the main lobby; they are a truly fantastic library, and its the least you could do to use their WiFi in a quiet spot. They also have a decent little cafe, as well as a pleasant tea room, so you can spend a nice, light meal away from the con should you desire some decompression.
And here’s your bottle of wine in a toilet cistern:
It’s Arbor Mist, and it was acquired as our post-panel celebration alcohol. I put it in there to cool it off since the ice machine was too difficult to find.
Anyway, unfortunately I’m going to have to split this into three posts, it seems, because I still have a lot to say and this is over two thousand words >_> Need some time to chill a bit before I finally get to things like the dealers’ room, the con’s atmosphere, and such…