Another year means another Anime Boston. Jm gave me a pass from the daughter duties to head in for Friday, as there was only one reason to go this year. Why? Well, we’ll get to that in a minute…
Spot on Thematically
Over the past few years, Anime Boston has organized events around a theme; they were particularly clever this year by choosing music as the theme allowing them to borrow a famous Spinal Tap quote. This year and theme allowed them to introduce a number of Japanese bands to the US audience beyond the popular theme song most know them for.
The one musician I was excited to see was Mari Iijima; most older fans know her as the voice of Lynn Minmay, one of the most iconic figures in anime. Despite a role that rocketed her to stardom, she focused on her music after that and produces her own albums in LA now. Having followed her YouTube channel, I had seen clips of her live performances and was eager to hear her live.
One day only
The initial schedule had her autograph sessions, concert, and panel spread out over Friday and Saturday. This made scheduling time between the con and helping Jm with our bundle of fury a bit difficult. However, the few days leading up to the con saw the schedule shift everything to Friday. Unfortunately, Mari’s pet bunny was ill, causing her to reschedule everything to make the con for only that Friday. It is odd how fate can be a bit cruel to one but kind to another. While it meant that Jm would be alone all day, it also meant I only had to spend one day at the con; there simply was nothing else on the schedule I was eager to see.
Friday arrived, and the T gods blessed me with immediate and swift trains allowing me to get into town and pick up my badge with plenty of time before Mari’s panel at noon. Wandered the halls a bit checking out the cosplay and seeing what would be the popular trend. Remarkably, there seemed to be no noticeable trend; people were decked out in a wide variety of costumes from shows new and old. There was even someone dressed as Darkwing Duck. Why? I have no earthly idea…
Hello, I’m Mari Iijima
Noon finally rolled around, and I got a good seat for Mari’s panel. Wasn’t difficult to do; turn out was light but decent. Mari even joked about it a bit and said that she actually once did an appearance where no one showed up. I think that sums up what makes her so charming, her candidness. She said that she did not mind talking about Minmay, especially where she was at an event where that is what she is known for.
However, she did express that it is frustrating for her at times; she is a musician and has been since she began playing piano at three. She feels like she is always introducing herself; "Hello, I’m Mari Iijima… Please listen to my music". The questions were a good mix of what it was like working on Macross and what motivates her music. Charming, funny, and forthright… She was a fantastic guest; my favorite line from the whole panel: "That guy they were chasing (Ichijyo Hikaru) was an asshole."
Despite having a hectic schedule, she, in what would become a pattern for the day, went out of her way after the panel to pose for photos with those that wanted them. Mine is seen below; yes, I know what you are thinking. Why do I look like a complete doofus? I don’t know, but this is why I shy away from cameras.
Her first autograph session was immediately after her panel; rushed down to the room to find a small line already formed. No worries about getting in this year; waited patiently to have her sign my copy of Do You Remember Love? and volume three from the AnimEigo box set. Again, she was gracious enough to pose for a photo after she signed your items. That picture turned out a bit better.
After that, there was time enough to kill until her concert. Wandered the dealer’s room, grabbed a bite to eat, and talked to Jm on the phone for an hour or so. Nothing really struck my eye in the dealer’s room other than the markup on items common across most booths. Things I could get on the net for $25 were on the order of $40; yikes…
A perfect end to the evening
Finally, it was time for Mari’s concert; was most happy to see a good turnout. The person next to me asked about her. He was unfamiliar with her music or her work in Macross. Yet, he was willing to sit in on her concert and find out more; gave me a minuscule glimmer of hope for the younger generation of fans to discover something beyond the current shiny series.
Her concert was much like her panel; she talked and engaged the audience between songs. The same candidness in her speech comes through in her music; her songs are all personal reflections of her mood, dreams, hopes, and fears. She even belted out a cover of a Kate Bush and Oasis song. The hour was over too quickly, but seeing her live, even for a brief moment, was worth the wait. A merchandise table was setup after the concert, and I picked up her latest CD Echo and her previous one Uncompromising Innocence. She was planning to have another autograph session after the sales, but once again, she was gracious enough to sign one of the CDs right there. I could have probably gotten her to sign both, but she had already accommodated me far too much, and I did not wish to hold up the line further. And with that, it was back home, another Anime Boston adventure concluded for the year.