Up to now, I did each day in a separate post. AB2016 was more of a blur for me mostly because of how I decided to use my time at the convention and the fact that I was a panelist for the 5th year in a row. This was my first time doing the convention with no budget. The only reason I was able to get through the weekend is because I commuted from home. I can’t imagine I would have been able to get through the weekend if I was in a hotel room because of the added expenses that comes with that. I digress. My financial problems aside, overall I had a pleasant experience.
Anyone who was there and/or followed the goings-on via the Anime Boston Social Facebook Group–which by the way is run and maintained by congoers, NOT the convention itself–was quickly made aware of the lines to get into the Hynes, which were an unfortunate side effect from the increased security presence in the Hynes Convention Center. For those who didn’t know, there was an incident at the Hynes last summer involving a mass shooting plot. Due to this and the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013, security was stepped up for Anime Boston 2016.
Before I continue, the rest of this recap will be broken up into several categories. Those who are familiar with my Video Game Blog know when I review things, I rate them on a scale of 1 to 10. The same will be done for each category I score below.
Line Flow – 4/10
Easily issue #1 at AB2016. It was atrocious. I heard two particular horror stories that struck a nerve from two folks who gave their experience at the Convention Feedback on Sunday after Closing Ceremonies. For those who don’t know, Convention Feedback is held after Closing Ceremonies in room 208 from 4:00PM to 5:00PM. The heads of all of Anime Boston’s departments, the chair and vice chair are there to listen to your feedback and answer any questions you may have. I’m giving this its own section so I’ll leave it at that for now.
Back to this though: Unlike years’ past, the line problems were exclusively around getting into the con. AB’s had a crapton of bad luck in recent years with the security subcontractors the Hynes hires. This year was possibly the worst yet. I followed the goings-on via Facebook on my cellphone. It was painfully clear most of the security detail didn’t want to be there. After the Prudential Center as usual made noise about the mall entrance to the Hynes being so backed up it became a fire hazard, AB Staff closed the entrance at intervals and moved everyone to the Boylston st. Entrance.
The root cause of the problem, of course was the security checkpoints. For many, it took them 30 minutes minimum to get into the Hynes. It goes without saying those who got in avoided leaving the Hynes unless they had to in order to avoid the line that oftentimes wrapped around the side of the building. I want to again stress the root cause of the lines is the security checkpoints which Anime Boston has no control over.
Unfortunately, they will remain until enough people decide they don’t want to live like that anymore. You will need to contact State Lawmakers and the Hynes and let them know how much the security checkpoints effected your ability to enjoy the convention. Increased security has become the norm since 9/11 but the problem is it’s never lowered once raised. If you don’t speak out, the powers that be see no reason to lower them. That’s the trick, actually.
Here’s some food for thought for those who don’t see this as a “problem”: I have attended the Boston Marathon in the 3 years since the bombing in 2013. Boston Police has security checkpoints all over Copley Square, which is the finish line. As you can probably guess, hundreds of thousands of spectators converge at the finish line–easily much more than Anime Boston’s 25,000 to 30,000 attendees each year–to watch the runners finish the race.
How long does it take to pass through security? 5 minutes max. No metal detectors. No one yelling at you. They check your bag, wand you and you’re on your way in 30 seconds tops. Same city. Same area. Different mindset. I posed the question on Anime Boston’s forums a short time ago to see if changing who does security would help.
Dining Options – 4/10
…For those who didn’t know, the Prudential Center’s food court was closed in the summer of 2015 and was replaced with an Eataly, which is a hybrid Supermarket and Restaurant. Still under construction at the time, this slashed the dinining options for congoers, the majority of whom were either on a budget or like me had no food budget (LOL). This is actually outside Anime Boston’s juristiction but I felt the need to mention it anyway as a Boston native myself.
Video Selections – 8/10
As in years past, AB2016 offered a mix of mainstream dubbed anime, mainstream subbed anime and new anime of both types being introduced at the con. All courtesy of the industry of course. One Punch Man was a huge draw of course. Most of the anime, I’d say most Congoers had at least heard of overall. It was nice to see Summer Wars, Angel Beats, Ouran High School Host Club, Spice & Wolf and The Last: Naruto the Movie among the featured anime. I say that because I own ALL of them ^_^
My Panels – 7/10
I decided to mark my 5th staight year as a panelist by doing two panels I’ve done before. One was of course my Clannad panel. The other was my Persona 4 Panel, which I also did at AB2014. Attendance at both was pretty good. Unike AB2015 there were no delays with the start times (WOOT!) and even better, no major technical problems (LOL!). Steam randomly decided to do an update when I did a demonstration of the Clannad VN on my laptop. One lucky Congoer got to play the first 15 minutes of the Clannad VN =O
…Fortunately, I had planned to do my Q&A at the same time so it was a minor delay. It was my 5th and likely final time doing my Clannad panel at Anime Boston. Now that the Clannad VN has (FINALLY!) been released in North America, I felt it was a good time to retire the panel. Even though most of the friends I made because of Clannad have since moved on to other fandoms, it will always be my favorite Anime of all time.
My Persona 4 panel is why I rated this secfion a 7/10: I ended up having to change a few things on the fly. I DID allow two Congoers to sample Persona 4 Golden and Persona 4: Dancing All Night during my Q&A session (As a reminder, I have two Vitas). I also gave away my Persona Arcana deck at the end of the panel. I consider myself lucky even though I had an hour I only used 45 minutes. I feel like with my Persona panel I did a bit too much improvising. In comparison, when I did my Clannad panel the next morning I was feeling extremely comfortable.
Dealer’s Room – N/A
As I mentioned at the top I was broke going into AB2016 so I basically avoided the dealer’s room like The Plague. The one time I remember setting foot in there was for a pre-arranged item swap with a friend of mine working one of the booths. I did chat with the owner of Comicopia for a few minutes on Sunday now that I’m thinking about it.
Convention Feedback – 10/10
Convention organizers did not shy away from the widely reported horror stories involving Line Flow and the Security Firm hired to handle security for the weekend. It goes without saying it took up almost all of the alotted time. AB was in full-on damage control, which when you think about it was pretty unfair since they have no control over the security checkpoints. I was impressed but unsurprised the feedback session had a large turnout. Most of those who provided feedback either shared their experience in what’s been dubbed LineCon 2.0.
Huge props to event organizers on a job well done. They knew going in what the main topic was going to be and they handled the criticism like professionals. On that note, it’s worth pointing out NONE of AB staff are paid including the department heads. It’s all a labor of love ^_^
Overall – 8/10
Despite the bottleneck at the security checkpoints things went pretty well. Despite being broke, I had a good time. Of course, being broke meant I had no reason to leave the Hynes until I was ready to go home. I didn’t mind not being able to go in the Dealer’s Room but I DID mind not having the money to buy food. Never again. LOL.
…And there you have it.
Ironically, I posted this 5 days before AB2017. I seriously forgot about it due to problems in my personal life before, during and since AB2016. As it happens, for a while I faced the reality I would not make it to AB2017. Then I got my tax return ^_^
This year I have a little bit of money so I’ll be able to eat, travel and do a little shopping in the Dealer’s Room. I actually entertained getting a hotel room for Saturday night but in the end I have decided not to. Instead, I’ll take a cab from Forest Hills Saturday night like I’ve done in the past. It also helps my birthday is the Thursday of pre-registration so…yeah. LOL.