13 Apr, 2010

Manga Recon @ Anime Boston 2010, Part 2

By: Ken Haley and Sam Kusek

Anime Boston 2010 was held April 2-4 at the Hynes Convention Center and Sheraton Hotel Boston and two of Manga Recon’s contributors, Ken Haley and Sam Kusek, were in attendance. They’ve opted to write a conversation-style joint review of their experiences, of which this is the second and final installment.

Sam: While Friday was a nice fan experience, I think Saturday is what really solidified my experience of Anime Boston and would be the reason why I think this was the best year yet…

Ken: Saturday was excellent. It was incredibly panel-heavy for me and I remember being worried about whether I’d be able to get anything to eat at one point due to food court lines, panel schedules, et cetera. It also brought out what was probably one of the best cosplays I’ve ever seen—a fantastic Liger Zero from the Zoids anime. I was really blown away by it and pictures of it at turning up all over the place, so anyone who missed it should have no trouble tracking down a photo. But it was another thing that had me lamenting my lack of camera.

Saturday for me kicked off with arriving late at the Black Jack, Tezuka’s Dark Doctor panel, which was again hosted by Clarissa and Daryl of AWO/Otaku USA fame. Between the two of them, I think they must have accounted for about half the panels at the con. Anyway, I had no idea there had been so many adaptions of Black Jack prior to this panel, never mind the musicals and whatnot. I’m kind of amazed at how few of these have made their way to the US. All the info on the different take, tributes and re-imaginings of the series had me thinking about Western comics and how every writer puts their own spin on the same character. Interesting stuff.

Of course the highlights of Saturday had to be the Vertical Panel and the Manga Mania panel, both hosted by Ed Chavez. The Vertical Panel was first and while I don’t think there were really any surprise announcements, there were some rather intriguing things said throughout. First, there were the utterly horrible teases regarding two series that should be out in the next year, a new Tezuka series and an unnamed manga project. But what really caught my attention was the mention of Vertical having talked to both Ishinomori’s and Go Nagai’s people! I’ve been fighting a growing curiosity of Ishinomori’s work since I read an Otaku USA article about him years ago, manly because so little of his work is available in the US. The fact that they’ve talked to Ishinomori’s people, even if it did fizzle, was really the kind of thing I couldn’t ignore and was both heartbreaking and oddly encouraging at the same time. Of the previously announced manga titles, 7 Billion Needles really jumped out at me. It was something that I had only had a passing curiosity in, but the cover art and the description of it really caught my attention. Not sure why it hadn’t prior to the panel, but I guess I can be slow on the uptake sometimes.

Sam: Oh, yeah! Saturday was the most intense day by far, in terms of panels and overall attendance to the con. I believe the total attendance was 17,236 people this year!

The first panel that I attended was the Shoot the Hostage!—An Adventure in Marketing Anime Workshop. This workshop was put on by Adam Sheehan, the marketing manager for FUNimation, and he played out the panel in a very interesting way. Upon splitting us into groups, he gave us pamphlets that read like a Choose Your Own Adventure… but instead of fighting dragons and just finding out your princess is in another castle, it was about the decisions that must be made while marketing anime. As a marketing major, I was very interested in this and Adam provided a unique real-world experience with this idea, as all of the choices we could make were actually things that had happened! This was a great way to connect with the industry.

However, you are not wrong to say that the clear winners of the panels on Saturday were the Vertical and Manga Mania panels! It was wonderful to hear Ed talk about Vertical’s overall success in the marketplace and it was great to get an understanding of the directions that they want to go in, both in publishing and as a company! I think the best part for me was that Ed was very attentive to what the fans had to say and really was trying to get a perspective on the titles people want to see out on the shelves. I am in the same boat as you, too: I’d love to see more of Ishinomori’s work!

The Manga Mania panel was the other panel highlight, and it can only be described as mind-blowing! The panel was set up by Ed Chavez again, as a roundtable discussion between Internet reviewers and podcasters, including MangaBlog’s Brigid Alverson, Ninja Consultant’s Erin Finnegan, Anime World Order’s Clarissa, Anime Jump’s Mike Toole, Ain’t it Cool? News’ Scott Green and Vertical Intern, Ko Ransom. The panelists talked about the state of the industry, the changes in fandom over the years and the emergence of digital technologies and how that can ultimately affect our market overall. I don’t know about you, but I eat this stuff up! This is what I love to come to panels for and like you said when it was over, they could’ve easily extended this to two hours of discussion. I think it was a really interesting mix of very opinionated people, who all got introduced to manga in different ways (Brigid mentioned her daughters being a huge influence on her manga reading). Ed was also a perfect host, having prepared a variety of individualized questions for each of his guests, which made it all the more driven and focused.

Ken: If I had any complaint regarding the Manga Mania panel it’s that there were no introductions. I knew who everyone was on it, but then again I follow most of them online in one form or another, but I’d imagine that your average con goer must have been a bit lost and confused at the entire thing. That small bump aside, it was definitely a fantastic panel. The discussions about keeping things in mind like the context of the original manga and the audience you’re writing for really struck me as interesting, but admittedly that could just be the reviewer in me. There was some talk about audience fragmentation and how everything is targeted towards specialized niches that struck me as intriguing as well. It’s definitely a panel that would have benefited from some more time, though. If there’s another panel like this in 2011, like you I can only hope that it’s given two hours.

It wasn’t too long after the Manga Mania panel that you and Erin Finnegan were co-hosting Cooking With Manga. It was a pretty fun panel and it showed that you two, and her husband Noah, are far braver cooks and eaters than I. Half of the ingredients you two mentioned I hadn’t really heard of, and the food itself looked questionable at times, particularly that rice cooker bread. Gyah!

Definitely a fun, packed day, but the crowds and lines were manageable and everything seemed to go off with minimal hitches, which is a testament to how hard the Anime Boston staff must have been working.

Sam: Yeah, I think that we both had a lot of fun doing that panel and were both really surprised by the turnout! I would say there were over 40-something people there, which doesn’t sound like a whole lot but we filled the room! From what I saw up on the panel and from the people I talked to before and afterwards, I think it was really well liked! In fact, I know it was well received (Erin’s been forwarding me some e-mails) so overall, people really ate it up! It’s these types of panels, where con-goers can learn about new types of manga or even just applying them to real-life situations (I met a few people who were culinary students), that really make conventions a lot fun. You can get industry news anywhere but where else are you going to find a community as interested in this stuff as you are?

Overall, Saturday was a great, dare I call it the best, day for Anime Boston!

Ken: Which brings us to the con’s final day, Sunday. I have to admit that I wasn’t at the con for long on Sunday due to Easter plans, and even then I spent most of the time in the Dealers’ Room making my last-minute purchases and hoping for some excellent deals. One of things that struck me was the change in the crowd. Sundays are bound to be the slowest and least-crowded day at cons, but I was surprised at just how many families took advantage of this and showed up. I saw several couples with toddlers or babies in strollers roaming the hallways, something that would have been impossible on Saturday and probably difficult even on Friday. Of course it’s entirely possibly that they were there the whole time and I was just noticing them now, but I kind of doubt it. It was kind of nice to see and had me wondering if those are the next generation of anime and manga fans.

I also took advantage of the light schedule and stopped by one of the video rooms for a bit and caught a few episodes of Slayers: Revolution. I’ve been an on-again, off-again fan of the franchise since the ’90s but really hadn’t seen any of the series in years. I had nearly forgotten how much fun that show is and now I’m tempted to start hunting down boxed sets.

At any rate, for me the big panel on Sunday was The History of Otakudom, hosted by Alex Leavitt. It was a pretty interesting rundown of the history of the term otaku, the various ways it’s been used and perceived in both Japan and abroad, and the various attempts made at using otaku culture as an economic buoy in recent years. I thought it was interesting that the term has yet to really be reclaimed and redefined by those labeled otaku, despite the fact that they’ll often use it in a positive away amongst themselves.

After that panel came the Anime in Academia panel, which was also hosted Alex Leavitt and others, but that was about it for me as Easter dinner was calling.

Sam: Wrapping up sounds good to me. I don’t have much to say other than always keep an eye out for deals and know what you are looking for.

All in all, I would argue that this was the best con that I have attended to date. That might be because since the last Anime Boston, I have been exposed to a lot more manga and industry insight, but I think that the organization and amount of content that was offered this year was really a driving force. It is hard to argue with a number like 17,000 attendees!

My one word of advice to con-goers who are looking to get the most out of this experience… try a little bit of everything! Don’t just sit in the viewing room or game room (should these really even be here?) for hours on end! Get out of your comfort zone, go sit in some industry panels, go talk to dealers! You might learn something!

Ken: Yeah, you’ve got snap things up quickly or they’ll be gone by the next day. I learned that the hard way this weekend. Ah well!

It was definitely a well-organized and well-run con. They had a very good lineup of panels this year, ranging from fun clip shows to more academic fare like talks about genres, society and the like. I have to agree in thinking that this was the best Anime Boston out of the three years I’ve attended.

My one word of advice to con-goers would probably be to wash your hands when you leave the bathroom. Saw at least two people not do that and it kind of squicked me out. The hand sanitizers and soaps are there for a reason, people! Aside from that, though, there’s definitely so much to do that sitting in one place all weekend definitely seems a bit odd.

Posted in: Convention Recon,

4 Responses to "Manga Recon @ Anime Boston 2010, Part 2"

1 | Narutaki

April 13th, 2010 at 1:35 pm


Great job, I haven’t been to Anime Boston in many, many years but this con report and some feedback from others has me very much considering attending next year.

2 | Ken Haley

April 14th, 2010 at 12:11 pm


Thanks! I’ve been enjoying it the past few years, though I do think that this was probably my favorite of the three.

3 | Grant

April 14th, 2010 at 4:38 pm


The Sheehan panel sounds fascinating. What were some of the scenarios that the audience had to choose between?

4 | Sam Kusek

April 14th, 2010 at 9:48 pm


Most of the questions centered around communication between the American and Japanese offices and a lot of scenarios concerning holding back release dates. Sheehan’s a really good guy, it was a treat to hear him speak.