The fifth Anime Boston is now behind me, and my collection of Japanese signatures has grown. I managed to roll in around 9AM on Friday, April 20 and did not have to wait long in the preregistration line to grab my badge. Everyone was commenting that the badges were a lot sharper than last year. Picked up a bum gift bag though that didn’t even contain a program in it. Meh, I don’t really need more clutter in my life anyway. With a bit of time before the opening ceremonies, I walked around the Hynes making sure I knew where everything was. They really shook up the floor layout this year and pushed the dealer’s room onto the second floor.
The opening ceremonies started at 11AM; yeesh… the hosts should have done some dry runs of their speech. They just read from their notes and didn’t do much to pump the crowd up aside from throwing free t-shirts at them. A video retrospective of Anime Boston played, and I believe I spotted myself in one of the shots. “Hey, that looks like a Mr. Sparkle t-shirt. Hey! I think that’s me in the Mr. Sparkle t-shirt.” Guests were introduced, and the English voice actors received thunderous applause, cat calls, and school girl screeches. Bounced out of the ceremonies to stand in line for the noon opening of the dealer’s room. Line moved fairly quickly though, and I was soon browsing the aisles of merchandise.
I was pleased to see a better variety of merchandise at the tables this year; there was a better and wider variety of figures available. My first stop was at one of the local comic booths were I scored the first issue of Marvel’s Dark Tower comic mini-series. Had picked up issues two and three at my local shops, but none of them had issue one available. Handed it over to the clerk (who looked an awful lot like a long haired Andy Serkis) and chatted with him a bit. Made the complete rounds but little really caught my eye; there were a few Lum figures I had my eye on. Settled on a cute one of her sitting down with a long, red ribbon tied around her wrist. Cost me $22, but I later found it at a different booth for only $14. My own fault for not doing a better job of comparison shopping.
The first autograph signing was supposed to be at 2PM, and I wanted to make sure that I got in line a bit early. This year, the con would only hand out 100 tickets for each autograph session; if you didn’t get a ticket, you wouldn’t get through the door. I suspected this was mainly for the US guests, though I hoped that the Japanese guests would have more than a handful of people turn out for them. This unfortunately meant I would also miss a bit of the first panel for the Japanese guests as well. However, I was hoping to miss just slightly over thirty minutes of the panel and slip in for the rest. As 2PM approached, those of us in line learned that the schedule had a misprint; the signing would be starting at 3PM rather than 2PM. Thinking ahead, I asked the con staff wrangling the line to pass out tickets so we could return. She agreed this was a good idea and did just that.
Slipped into the panel for Imagawa Yasuhiro and Nishimura Junji; really wish I could have made it for the whole panel. They had worked together numerous times and had a great rapport going between themselves and the audience. Imagawa was boisterous and Nishimura subdued, but the dynamic between them produced a number of great stories. One of them would respond to a question, and the other couldn’t resist trying to one up that story with their own. It was a lively discussion, and you could see the guests were enjoying themselves. I did not realize it until the end, but I was sitting right across from the two other Japanese guests. Couldn’t get their pictures though before they were ushered out for the 3PM autograph session.
I bounced out of the panel a few minutes before it ended to make sure I was in line for the autographs. The same wrangler was working the line and allowed those of us with tickets from before to line back up in the same order. The signing was for Terada Kenji, writer for the first three Final Fantasy games and Iwata Hiroshi, producer of Macross. I pulled out my items to get ready and many in line were impressed with the original NES Final Fantasy box I had. Everyone asked the same question; “Is that a real, original NES Final Fantasy?” Yes, yes it is; I scored it off of eBay a long time ago when my current obsession was collecting the NES games that took away copious chunks of my youth. I handed that and the cover for the DS Lite version of Final Fantasy III to Terada-san to be signed. He tapped the NES box, smiled, and said he “knows this one”. Moved on to Iwata-san and handed over the cover to my Japanese copy of _Do You Remember Love? to be signed. He beamed when he signed it and asked me in broken English if I liked the movie and series. I replied in broken Japanese that I did and thought it was very entertaining.
With autographs in hand, the only other item on the schedule I wanted to see was the Funimation panel which also started at 3PM. Didn’t miss much, and they didn’t really announce anything that excited me. Decided to check out the ADV Premier panel at 5PM and bumped into Bulldog from the forums at the end of the line and chatted with him until we were let into the room. They showed off the first episode of a few series, but nothing grabbed my interest as a future purchase. The time was now 7PM, and I was tired and hungry having had only a muffin since breakfast. Headed home to eat and rest up for more fun on Saturday.
My first stop on Saturday was the Geneon panel where I finally bumped into Chris; again, Geneon didn’t announce anything that really excited me. I ducked into the dealer’s room to find something for Imagawa-san to sign; picked up a volume two of G Gundam for only $16. Decided I would head into the Bandai Visual panel to see what carnage would ensue there; the representative was still talking about their upcoming releases. He spoke decent English, but he wasn’t comfortable enough with the language to make for an interesting speaker. After a quick survey, he (foolishly) opened up the panel for questions; everyone was asking him about Bandai Visual’s pricing and telling him how it wouldn’t fly. Having read enough about this in the forums, I had no desire to sit though this for more than a minute.
It was time to get in line for the autograph session for Imagawa and Nishimura. Handed over my covers for Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer and the first volume of Urusei Yatsura. The rapport Imagawa and Nishimura had in the panel was still going on during the signing. Someone behind me had dressed up as a character from a Nishimura anime and was having him sign his rather large costume prop. Imagawa jumped up from his seat with his own camera and had the kid posing with Nishimura for photos. Imagawa returned to his seat, and I eventually had him sign my newly purchased DVD. While both autograph sessions did not exceed the 100 mark, they had a lot more people than I thought they would.
Next up was the panel for Terada and Iwata; while the energy wasn’t the same as the Imagawa/Nishimura panel, both of them had a number of amusing stories to share. Iwata confessed that he worked on a hentai title back when he needed money but wouldn’t admit which title it was. Both guests were asked how they felt about situations like Robotech. They danced around the issue a bit, but they did admit that seeing original works reworked like that can be frustrating.
Rounded out my 2007 experience with the ADV industry panel, the Bandai Entertainment panel, and the AnimeOnDVD.com panel. The AoD guys were planning a dinner gathering after 8:30PM. Unfortunately, that was going to be much too late for me; had to head back home to prepare for a business trip. The Japanese guest panels and autograph sessions were the highlights for me; didn’t see any new titles on the horizon that really blew me away. Innocent Venus from ADV looks somewhat interesting; might try to see if Chris will sling me that series to review. Without the Japanese guests, I’m not sure what I would have gotten out of this con; the viewing rooms weren’t running much I was interested in or could just buy and enjoy at home. I’m not big on the US guests; cosplay and AMV contests don’t do much for me either. Thankfully, Anime Boston seems to be large enough to keep on booking Japanese guests.