I learned a lot of things over this past weekend at PAX East; some good, some bad. Well okay, more like almost entirely good with one bad — that the impression some non-Anime fans have of the Anime community is entirely different than the reality. I overheard at least two different conversations over the course of the weekend about how Anime Boston paled in comparison to PAX East (for those that aren’t aware, due to scheduling constraints both conventions happened the same weekend on opposite sides of the city of Boston). First I heard, “They didn’t even sell out of badges! We did!” Then the same guy tried to work the argument that if you showed up to Anime Boston in a Poison Ivy costume, you’d be ostracized because it wasn’t manga or Anime.
I’ll tackle the numbers issue before I hit my main point: who cares? Anime Boston doesn’t have to sell out to let the world know there is a scene for Anime fans. They’ve have consistent numbers for the past few years, even as folks come and go and hit other cons instead. It doesn’t make the crowd any less devoted or interested. If PAX East suddenly lost a chunk of its attendees the convention would still be a great time, just with less people. Same rules apply to Anime Boston, AnimeNEXT, Otakon and so on and so on and so on.
While I do agree that PAX East is the better of the two cons, which is entirely my own personal preference, I don’t stand for bullshit like this. Especially when it comes from someone who has never been to an Anime convention and is basing their opinion entirely on hearsay.
The truth of it is plain and simple: for the most part, Anime conventions are just nerd conventions for younger people. Sci-fi conventions are for the over-50 crowd; comic conventions are for people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Anime conventions are for teenagers and people in their early 20’s; the exception to this rule would be stuff like Otakon which still has plenty of room for the older fans. So no, if you show up in a Poison Ivy outfit you will NOT be ostracized. Instead, you’ll probably have your picture taken and someone might even make a “Batman and Robin” joke.
I’d also like to add that if you go by the terms laid out by this fellow, I would be ostracized at PAX East for making a reference to Booster Gold, or to Sliders, or to our beloved Dazzler. Because hey, PAX East is almost entirely a video game and tabletop convention! No room for anything else, right? That couldn’t be any farther from the truth, as was evident by the “Adventure Time!” late night screenings and the Ghostbusters roaming the halls.
The entire reason I stopped going to Anime Boston is because I aged out of it; I felt out of place in a crowd of mostly teens. At PAX East I feel more at home because for the most part the age is closer to what I am currently at. But this in no way changes that folks who go to Anime cons are nerds and geeks, just like we are, and that we enjoy tons of varying genres, animation, books and games. So please, do not write off an entire convention and its crowd just because you’re not into it, when in a few years they’ll be at PAX East too.
In summary, I had a terrific time at PAX East in 2012 and will be returning in 2013. If you had a great time at Anime Boston, here here! And for more on the topic of PAX East, listen to Episode 132 coming later this week.