And hopefully the last. Dealers’ room, overall con assessment, and the poor man’s Strike Witches.
Phew, these posts have turned into monsters length-wise, and I didn’t really expect that, although given how much coverage I gave of some of the panels, I suppose this shouldn’t’ve come as a shock.
Oh, the siren that sings us all to shipwreck, the place of lost dreams and wallets, of missed chances and great bolts from the blue, the shrine to capitalism in all its twisted glory… the Dealers’ Room. My wallet was significantly lighter nearly every time I visited, yet I kept going back for more, and I definitely had my fair share of moments rued – like failing to buy a Saber coffee mug when I first saw it, since it was already gone by the next walk-by =(
Having gone to Anime Boston in previous years, the balance of dealers seems to have shifted slightly – there were less booths hawking DVDs than I am used to, and while the number of manga booths was about the same, the individual booths have gotten monstrous in terms of proportion. I walked away with twenty-four new volumes of manga, a couple of which were omnibuses (twenty-five from con in total as I got No. 6 Vol. One at the Kodansha Comics panel), and I put back at least ten volumes after hemming and hawing a bit. And for the sharp-eyed consumer, a number of the booths offered genuinely solid out-of-print manga for their original MSRP (in particular, one booth had multiple copies of volumes of Twin Spica that now go for anywhere from $55-$80 new). I even saw a complete set of After School Nightmare on one shelf (although I came back later and discovered someone had bought only the first volume – really?!?!?!?!?!).
What seemed to be taking up more of the raw numbers, then, were booths dedicated to things like figures, other character goods, accessories, and clothing. Booths for more current video games were almost completely absent, the lone hold-out in Manga Gamer, a visual novel localizer. I’d been hoping to pick up a couple of eroge, but unlike at AB 2009 or 2011, there wasn’t a booth that was selling a broader cross-section than what little Manga Gamer had to offer.
A criticism here for the Hynes, as I heard more than one booth worker complain about or apologize for the fact that they were having trouble getting credit and debit card transactions to go through. Apparently Hynes made changes to the wiring for the building which essentially rendered the dealers’ rooms a deadzone for 4G and WiFi connections, which made it borderline impossible for some of the vendors to use their electronic card readers. One booth had to call their physical location for each transaction and have the person on the other end hand enter the card information into their system, then produce a hand receipt for the purchase and explain the entire process to the buyer; they had just enough cell reception to make phone calls, but no 4G to put the card through. It seemed pretty cumbersome and other booths didn’t appear to even be able to do this sort of system. I can only imagine that this must’ve had an impact on sales.
While the rooms were consistently crowded throughout the con, it wasn’t utter chaos as I’ve seen in previous years. People did bump into each other a fair bit, but virtually everyone I saw do so was very polite and apologized profusely for their error. Only one guy stood out in the opposite direction – walking straight through the middle of the floor, eyes glued to a DS as he more or less ricocheted off of other passerby. And he wasn’t even a kid, either!
Also, yes, Rocket Girls is absolutely the poor man’s Strike Witches.
This was my first year actually venturing into Artists’ Alley. The fact is, in previous years I’ve just not felt a reason to go inside, as my previous conception was that it is basically just all about fanart, and while fanart can be kind of nice, I’m not huge enough on it to spend time at a con looking at it. However, this year I was excited to meet the lovely Kori Michele, author of Prince of Cats, a truly excellent webcomic about two boys in rural Pennsylvania grappling with their feelings for one another and their differing ideas and expectations about life. It updates three times per week, so it isn’t torturous the way that some other webcomics are…! So, yes, I went into Artists’ Alley, and I met Kori, and she was just as cool as I had expected. She also gave me a lovely piece of art featuring Hotaru and Chibi-Usa as young women (as opposed to young girls), which was very nice of her. If she’s coming to a con near you, definitely check out her booth.
Overall Con Assessment
Anime Boston ran a pretty tight show this year, and I was pleased with my overall experience. That being said, they seemed to do a very poor job of assessing interest in panels, as few of the panels I went to seemed to have been put in the right sized room. I understand that this can be difficult to assess prior to the event itself, but they seemed to have done a better job of this in past years. Kodansha Comics had perhaps thirty people in a room that probably sat about four hundred, while When Gundam Goes Bad had about twenty people lingering outside, hoping someone would leave early so they could snag their seat – and I haven’t even re-referenced the scads of people who couldn’t get into Sexism in Anime. And, yes, Kodansha Comics had an official panel and they are a publisher, but given the average con attendee, I really don’t think it was that utterly stunning that it drew poorly.
That being said, I was, as I said, really happy with this con. Hands down, this is the best con I’ve ever attended, and while a big part of that was simply being with people I knew and was friends with, that alone wouldn’t’ve elevated it so high in my estimation. I was in particular impressed with the concern for con-goers that Anime Boston demonstrated in their anti-harassment campaign, as this is, quite frankly, an area that many other cons simply overlook and cannot be bothered with. I’ve experienced harassment first-hand in past years, and its nasty and unpleasant and really undermines what should be a good experience. Additionally, AB’s overall “health and wellness”-type campaign, with boards reminding attendees of healthy behaviors for the con (one message implored people to remember 5, 2, 1 – at least 5 hours of sleep, 2 meals, and 1 shower per day), simply communicated that this is a bunch of showrunners who want to have a good, welcoming environment.
In addition, the atmosphere itself was simply more mature than the last time I hit up AB in 2011. The attendees for their part were largely quite polite and fairly low-key. While I did hear some “Marco!” “Polo!” crap occasionally, as well as a few instances of incoherent shrieking, it wasn’t the circus that anime cons often end up being in terms of attendee behavior. The crowd appeared to skew slightly older than I am accustomed to, too, which I think helped tamp down the more immature behavior. I also saw a lot more of people who had brought their children, and children who had brought their parents than in previous years. It all seemed to contribute to a tamer environment.
A last thing to note – one particular area of improvement on behavior was when it came to the way I saw cosplayers being treated. I saw very few people taking photographs without asking of cosplayers; most people asked first, and didn’t morph into awful monsters if they were turned down. That made me feel a bit more positive about my fellow anime losers as a whole.
Having said that there were more children who had brought their parents and parents who had brought their children, I have to say that I really, honestly think that it is time to re-examine how dakimakura covers in particular are displayed. I don’t think that covering up nipples with electrical tape and exposed crotches with sticky notes really cuts it, folks. I propose switching over the a system that was used with a lot of the posters for sale, where most posters are matted onto cardboard and are arrayed so that one flips through them instead of gazing at them all on a wall.
“But what about figures? Or posters themselves? Or hentai DVDs and manga?”
Well, as I said, lot of posters get put out for sale in a different manner, anyway, and while I saw some fanservice-y posters on walls of booths, none of them go quite the distance that the dakimakura covers do. As for figures, again – some pretty cheese-caked out figures, but none that went to the extent of the dakimakura covers. Hentai manga is tucked into shelves that are clearly marked, and the booth workers were pretty one-the-ball as far as I could tell about keeping younger ones away from them, and hentai anime DVDs are flat on tables facing up, so not easily spotted from just glancing around; the booth workers were also good at chasing kids away from them if they wandered too close. But those covers were almost all a few bits of tape away from full-frontal.
I know I’m probably going to get some push-back here and accusations of censorship. But I stand by what I’m saying; I’m not demanding that these items not be offered at all, just that they be offered in a different way than they currently are. I was looking for eroge at the con and bought a ton of plastic-wrapped manga – I clearly have nothing against depictions of sexuality in consumer goods, and I would be wicked bummed if a con banned 18+ content from the dealers’ room (and I flat-out would skip a con that had that sort of policy). But I likewise wouldn’t want a manga booth advertising its wares by having an open volume of hentai on its front table.
Moving to less contentious items, here is my loot:
Twenty-five volumes of manga, three DVDs, one lovely piece of fanart hiding a porn comic, two figures, and a Sailor Moon necklace. The manga is:
- Nabari no Ou, vol. 1-13
- No. 6 Vol. 1
- Kisses, Sighs, and Cherryblossom Pink Omnibus
- Starting with a Kiss, vol. 1-2
- Limit, vol. 5
- Blue Morning, vol. 1
- Seduce Me After the Show
- Hate to Love You
- Utsubora: The Story of a Novelist Omnibus
- Love Bound!!
- Two of Hearts
I had actually already pre-ordered Kisses, Sighs, and Cherryblossom Pink, but when I saw it for sale, I couldn’t resist and bought it anyway >_> The other three people who were with me at that moment also bought copies as well. I put back Sunny’s first volume despite having resolved to buy it, as well as A Drunken Dream and Other stories, since by then I was a little alarmed at how much money I’d spent. I’d been wanting to pick up the Nabari no Ou manga for ages, so, yes, thirteen volumes in one go didn’t require much prior thought before it happened.
Anime was the FAKE OAV, having only borrowed the VHS of it years ago from a friend. I also got Alien Nine, another title I saw ages ago and want to re-visit. And my final DVD purchase was for Shamanic Princess, which had been out of print for a long while b
efore Media Blasters re-licensed it; originally had planned to pre-order, but when its release date got pushed back, I’ll admit I felt leery given the recent track record Media Blasters has had. Happy to have gotten it into my hands.
I was convinced to get the Sailor Moon necklace by Patches: “You could wear it on deployment under your uniform to remind yourself that you’re actually a moon princess.” SOLD.
And here are my favorite ladies of Fate/Zero. Stuff that stupid magical girl show spin-off the franchise is getting this summer, I’m still holding out for a gorgeously-animated OAV where an AU Saber and Irisviel raise Illyasviel together.
I was so excited about these two that I assembled them in the car on the way to a birthday party right after I left the con.
I’m not usually a person who buys figures, as typically I’m very good at reminding myself that I could spend that money on DVDs and manga instead of on useless bits of plastic, but these were smaller figures, and the price was very reasonable. Also, seriously, suit!Saber is something I couldn’t resist. Originally it was just going to be her, but then when I saw Irisviel standing there, too, I knew I had to get them both. OTP, folks!
My lap, at 5:30 a.m., as I enjoyed the food we’d acquired from the 24 hour grocery store near the hotel. Not pictured: Patches and I giggling like idiots, the desk staff desperately trying to pretend we didn’t exist. We tried to keep on the quieter side, and all we did was sit on the sofa and eat, so I do hope they weren’t too bothered by us.
I include it because I do want to say that all the cool, interesting, fun folks I got to spend time with at AB this year were half of why this was the best con I’ve ever gone to. I finally got to put faces to a bunch of screen-names, and I also got to see some folks I’ve met before. Thank you to the folks I roomed with, for being decent human beings who weren’t creepy and never thought that having a debate about my bust size was in any way, shape, or form acceptable, and for putting up with the tiny drinking party that happened in the room’s bathroom from about 2 a.m. to 4:45 a.m. I also have to give a shout-out to Shinmaru, who took over handling the entire room matter when I admitted that I was overrun with work matters and didn’t feel I could handle it (and also wasn’t sure I’d even get to go because my schedule kept shifting around). That’s a true bro, right there.