Anime Boston 2015 [Convention Review]

Note: All three reviewers collaboratively covered different sections and some joint sections. If you feel something needs clarification so you might further enjoy a future Anime Boston event, feel free to comment!

This is the final review of Anime Boston 2015, this time this is a coverage of all that fun business con goers look for. Lines, lines, lines, panels, artist alley, dealers room- all of it. The cosplot has it’s own seperate post you can find by clicking that handy ‘Anime Boston’ tag up there. This is from Midnight, Savage, and I collectively as we all experienced different events.

 

The thing they did coordinate well on the schedule this year was absolutely that signatures usually didn’t interfere with other things. Signatures would lead into panels, at least on Saturday, which meant for the most part as a Press member we didn’t miss out on some of the more important panels we were signed up to be at, or the industry panels. Luckily we had three members for when there were interruptions, but most congoers won’t be so lucky. For the most part, we only missed one thing we needed to do because of scheduling, so hooray for that! But as we were press, I think that leaves the schedule to require some more engaging panels in the times between industry and cosplay events. And while there is usually one or two fun things to do during Masquerade, there will always be an hour or so where there is nothing to be done, but you know why that is? It isn’t actually a lack of real planning for big events, it’s that to make it to more fun things, you have to prepare for a line hours in advance. That’s right..the real issue is:

 

Poor line quality. Every year with Anime Boston the same problem repeats itself. The lines are always absolutely terrible. The one year I went to Otakon, a much larger convention, I actually had less trouble. Let me explain the issues with lines.

 

Say you really want to go to a panel, you’re dying to go. You have literally nothing else to do. So you say, alright, I have time, I’ll wait! Well, the con staff tells you to disburse. You hang around in the general area because you want to be decently close to the front, but then low and behold. The same staff that disbursed YOU from line is now allowing an entire line of people to sit in front. The staff is never equal on this: If they disburse one line they’ll allow the next. They need to be consistent. When they don’t want to let a line in they should simply explain “We can’t let anyone line up, but we can guarantee if you’re back here at “insert time” we will let you line up. Not before, we mean it.” That way you let all the eager people who want to know when they can line up, line up. If you let it happen before you’re letting everyone down. You’re letting the people who are unfairly skipping the times get in before the people who genuinely and eagerly want to be there, and you’re letting them be rude about it. More times than not I’ll wait early in a line just to see how the staff will handle it, without even meaning to actually stand in line. But when I had no press badge, I also had this issue.

 

Even worse are the autograph lines. There is no greater hell than the autograph lines. Let me tell you the story of the LiSa autographs. Myself and a few others were waiting off in the lobby for these lines and were several times disbursed. We were fine with that, what actually happened is we were terrified. The Anime Boston staff so rarely communicates when the line is actually forming that they scare it’s autograph line con goers into behaving irrationally. After we were disbursed a very quiet member of staff then told all the people huddled far closer than we were that they could go ahead and line up. What happened was a stampede, and completely unfair. We were off to the side as we were asked to be, but the people who huddled close to the line were rewarded for being persistent and not listening by a staff member who gave unclear instructions.

 

My suggestion is simple: If there is a lobby nearby, let those people go there. A minute before the real line forms, all the people who have not listened? Disburse them to the floor below. Loudly announce, repeatedly:

 

“SOON the line will open. Do not come line up now. Do not leave where you are. Get your stuff ready, begin to form a single file line, and we will call you when we want you to calmly walk over here and form a single file line. All the people downstairs are behind you and the line will go “insert path of line”. Now please, take a minute to gather your stuff and get ready. We will need you to have your stuff prepared and ready to sign. Do not push over anyone. If you stampede over here you will be asked to leave. This is not a running area, this is an autograph line and everyone here is just as entitled to get one as you are. Please be patient, and get ready.”

 

I find it is very common the Anime Boston staff will allow a very bad line to be formed, then get angry with us. Well, we’re scared we’re going to lose an autograph because of a poorly formed line. I did not miss out on getting LiSa’s autograph, but this was because I was lucky she decided to take as many as possible. I was over 250th in line. I was waiting away from the line section and my repayment for being patient and clearing the walkway area was to nearly miss out, be stampeded, almost have a panic attack from the sheer crowding, and then almost be treated like a criminal because somehow I allowed the line to form that way. Anime Boston staff, if you reward people for overcrowding you by letting them be first in line then they will keep overcrowding you. If you punish them, they will not. You need to make it clear where people can wait and where they can’t. It’s very upsetting to be hurt physically in a line and smooshed between people, and know that many others who had that happen did not even receive an autograph. Thank you so much to LiSa for allowing as many as possible, and I can’t even imagine how many people were disappointed. Thanks again to the gaming section staffer who made the line straight! (Because seriously, anxiety disorder and I know I’m not the only one at an anime convention with that)

 

That being said, I’m actually otherwise happy. Lines for panels were usually routed much better this year, and it was made much more clear where you needed to get tickets for events. I did not get tickets for events, but made note of how easily my con going friends found tickets, got seats, or dealt with things. Some people were disturbed by the volume of the security but I actually appreciated it. I can’t hear over con noises and other than the occasional hurt feelings, I was glad to be led in a good direction. The bag checks always went smoothly for me and the line seemed to move quickly, and I think using volume is the best course of action or else accidents and mis-communications will occur.

 

There were a lot of panels I missed out on thanks to being press, but I think that was to the advantage of the regular con-goer so how can I fault that? I’d say con-goers had more variety this year, though a lot of fun stuff conflicted with other fun stuff, but can I say that’s terribly bad when there’s too much fun stuff to do? Except for exciting and fun 18+ panels. Come on guys, there’s gotta be more perverted stuff than that! It felt like the timing of the 18+ stuff was either incredibly late or not really lined up. And you had a really specific genre going on so it made me go “It’s here but there’s two panels and they’re both incredibly specific.’

For my con experience though, that about cinches it. From my cosplot you can see that this year I feel the cosplay plot was handled nicely by most of the staff, it would be easier to give critique if not for the poor audience participation. I will say the best way to avoid a lot of the heckling is to have someone design a straight chess match and to coordinate more complicated fight scenes, but that is a lot of work for an ungrateful audience (just saying guys, come on audience.) Overall the staff at Anime Boston does a lot of work and for the most part they handle it well. For now, Savage and Midnight have their own responses to the cons scheduling, line, and overall handling.
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Midnight’s Review

Alright, Midnight here. I have to agree with a lot of what Oki said for the most part, while I did not line up for any autographs I stood with Savage while he waited for the autograph line after LiSa’s and the staff was entirely unsure about what they were doing. They had no idea what to tell people who showed up early. The line for LiSa was STILL a complete mess by the time we got there, line control has ALWAYS been this con’s largest problem. There is very clearly little to no proper communication between staff.

As for security in general, well, let me preface this rant with this. I do understand why it is necessary and I appreciate all the hard work the staffers of the con and the convention center do for us every year. With that said, people spend a lot of money on their cosplays. On the upwards of 300+ sometimes, the last thing you want in a case like this is to be routed outside. Lucky for the staff this year, it was not raining, however. When you could not go from the food court back to your hotel room without going outside. You can’t expect someone to be wearing something that couldn’t be damaged by the weather.
I was in a suit, so it didn’t bother me however one time I was returning to my hotel by walking outside. I saw some girls in lovely cosplay complaining about how the weather could of ruined their outfits. I don’t know how this could be fixed really, I just hope one day the staff can avoid having to send us outside. We got lucky this year that it was just a little windy, but normally the weather over AB weekend isn’t so forgiving.

I didn’t have to seek out tickets this year, but for my friends who did have to get them I believe it was easier and more widely broadcast then previous years.
The scheduling didn’t seem too crowded. I had enough time to get from place to place to see the things I really wanted to see. If I had the schedule in front of my right now i’d be able to comment on this better. I don’t though, but I don’t recall ever feeling pressured to run between events or skip out on a meal to see something I wanted to see. Since most of the things I attend are industry panels and cosplay events i’m glad the spacing was good.

From the events I attended, all of the tech was up too par. The sound at masquerade was the correct volume, the amv’s were not too loud or too quiet. The sound at the LiSa concert was handled well. Props all around to the tech staff this year for keeping all of the events sounding good. Let’s see, what else is there to really talk about? Oh, in the vein of the masquerade. Thank you so much to the Roadie and the Tamaki cosplayer for making it a thrilling and entertaining event even while the skits were not on stage.
As for the skits, I can’t recall any that I disliked this year. Every skit from the exhibition skit with Howl and Sophie to the ever so nostalgic Sailor Moon Spice Girls skit.

I believe that’s all I honestly have to say about the convention. I had a wonderful time and of course, will be returning as I do every year.

 


Savage

Well, I agree with both Oki and Midnight on the whole, but I have my own piece to add on the subject of the line issue. I’ll do my best not to cover the same ground. When I was going in for an autograph the first time, we already had a line set up, then they decided to break up the line, not o disperse it but have everyone huddle up in front and then make a line again. I have to ask..what’s the point of that? You already had a line there, then broke it so that then, you had everyone reform it, likely shoving and pushing and their order all mixed up. It literally made no sense.

However, the worst, the absolute worst was the second autograph line I was in, wherein they had a ticket system, where the first 100 people got tickets that would confirm their position in line. I thought this was a great idea and I was #100 so I was pretty lucky. However, then our line learned first we’d only get one item signed due to lack of time (a shame, but acceptable), and then learned a different staff member had a different line (numbering I believe to be 50 people), gave them tickets, let them go ahead of us and have two items signed. Even for poor communication this was extremely frustrating. There’s only so many hours you have at a con, so when you dedicate a lot of them to something, you want it to matter. And if you feel guaranteed to get an autograph, to find out you don’t, you feel cheated. Waiting 2 hours, only to find out another group of people were placed ahead of you and you ending up with nothing…its simply not acceptable.

The biggest issue I find is that with lines, the staff seem to never have a set up plan and it feels the right hand never knows what the left hand s doing. I understand that the staff has to deal with the regulations of the Sheraton, and that LiSa’s allowing more autographs might have made things more disruptive for the staff, but this shows just a lack of coordination and planning in general. I actually liked the ticket idea. You show up at a place, you get a ticket. That way, those who get one know they’re guaranteed o get an autograph and aren’t just wasting their time, and those who don’ get in line with a proper understanding they may not get an autograph. Nobody feels cheated out of their autograph opportunity.

I will say though to anyone in a situation similar to mine; do not blow up at the staff. In all likelihood, the staff member giving you the bad news had no say or control over these decisions, so yelling at them is both pointless and rude.  A gentleman behind me completely lost it at the con staff member who gave us the bad news, and it was simply not cool. Con staff members do deal with alot of stress and trying to do their job, and for those who do their job well, the last thing they need is to be yelled at for something thats not even their fault.  I will also say, there were some con staff who were very friendly, and who actually added some enjoyment to the line. This is the proper way for staff to act in this situation, and I applaud it. Few things make waiting in line bearable, but a friendly staff member that adds enthusiasm and levity can really go a long way in improving the atmosphere.

As for the hotel issue, I can see where the problem is, and of course I understand the complications. Anime Boston has to hold itself to the scrutiny of the Hynes, of the Sheraton, and of the Prudential Center, and needs to follow any codes, policies, and restrictions these three lay out. However, I still feel with enough planning the worst in that particular issue (having to go around to get to a hotel room) could have been avoided. I will say though, I noticed the bag checks and getting into the con itself outside of that was far better than it was last year and the year before. It didn’t take nearly as long to get in and out of the con; the only issue was that one door labelled an entrance became an impromptu exit which caused some difficulties.

The guests overall were wonderful, and how the con ran was overall solid. The LiSa concert was phenomenal (and this is coming from someone who’d never been to a concert, never heard of LiSa, and not that big into J-music in general). I found the addition of the Godzilla actors to be an extraordinary touch to the theme and gave Kaiju fans a huge opportunity that I’ll always cherish. I was highly impressed they got them and getting more guests connected to the theme that are out of the ordinary is a good way to go about things.  I was there for the cosplay chess, the other panels were good as well, the dealer’s room and artist alley were great as usual. For my part, I can get where some of the audience members in the cosplay chess situation were coming from, but that behavior was very out of line. Cosplay chess isn’t about chess, its about people in cool cosplays mock-beating the snot out of each other. If there’s any complaint, its that there was no team SITCAS. You can’t have Anime Boston cosplay chess without them!

 

Overall, Anime Boston remained good but with alot of issues. Part of it I guess comes from such a big con, but I feel a few of these issues could be addressed and fixed up for next year to make it even greater. It was still fun, huge, with lots of neat stuff to do and experience. I’d still recommend anyone curious to go there, and will likely be coming back next year (knock on wood)


As a final note, remember as a con goer to always be respectful and grateful to the people who work hard to make conventions happen. Everyone who runs the cons cares about your experience and does it for you and everyone like you, so when you’re considerate and effectively critical it can help them improve, but being aggressive helps no one. Thanks once again to the Anime Boston staff and we hope to return next year for a fun Sports Filled festival of awesome. ;)

Oki, Midnight, Savage

Oki

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