This past weekend, I went to Anime Boston for the seventh year in a row, and it was amazing. I look forward to this 3-day celebration of the medium of Japanese animation every year. For me, it’s like a combination of every great holiday in just one weekend. I don a cosplay (a costume of an anime or video game character) and admire the work others, go to performances and panels, and spend way more than I ought to on art and merchandise. All of these events are fun, but this anime convention has something special that I took for granted until I went to other conventions — a sense of community. Anime Boston brings people with the same general interests together to make something truly magical.
I found the best part of Anime Boston to be the people within it. I have met some of the warmest people I’ve ever met in my life. We have been brought together by a love of an art form (as well as video games and some other Western animation), and during the three day period we get to meet other people that enjoy the art form just as much. Outside the convention, it can be a novelty to discover that other people enjoy anime (while anime is generally rising in popularity due to the boom of streaming sites like Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Hulu, it is still generally considered a pretty niche interest.) I always feel a rush whenever someone wants to take a photo of my cosplay not just because they want to take a photo of me but because they enjoy the same shows I do. Even if we may not have the same tastes, I’ve gotten into some of the most pleasant conversations with staff, guests and artists alike. As I waited for some friends, I got into a conversation with a “Love-Live!” cosplayer that spread across a couple different topics (mostly anime or con-related). I would never have started such a conversation in a normal real-life scenario. In a convention, I feel light and free. I think that it comes from the fact that a convention is a place where you won’t feel judged for your passion or eccentricities here. We’re all here because of a shared passion, and I think it’s a given that we all have our own eccentricities. Some might think that liking Japanese animation, video games, or Western animation would be eccentric and weird, but in a convention, that eccentricity becomes a normality.
When you are in a room in which everyone shares the same passion as you do, true magic starts to happen. While I found that free feeling with anime, I don’t think this is unattainable by any means. In fact, I encourage anyone who reads this, anime fan or not, to find their Anime Boston. This could be a convention that happens once a year or even a meet-up that happens once a month. It’s a matter of finding your place where you can let your hair (or your wig) down and let your freak flag fly, and going to conventions lets you know that not only is it okay to enjoy what you love but that other people love it just as much as you do.