Get Your Geek On

Anime Boston 2008 arrives in a few weeks (March 21-23), and it’s a great chance to get in tune with your inner-geek. Believe me you won’t be alone, more than 10,000 people — many dressed in the most weirdly, wonderful costumes (cosplay for the uninitiated) — will walk the cavernous halls of the Hynes Convention Center. It’s a celebration of all things anime — manga, video games, J-pop included — and it brings together a fascinating cross section of people.

Anime, or Japanese animation, is an art form that many Americans have a hard time wrapping their heads around. It’s a colorful and often fearless brand of storytelling that ranges from the sugary cute to the downright disturbing. Manga, Japanese comics, are often the source material for anime. You’ve probably noticed the growing section in your local Borders or Barnes and Noble. It’s hooked an audience that often has to keep quiet about their enthusiasm. Many parents hate it — it’s expensive, at times violent, often sexual — and here’s where the lack of understanding comes in. Like movies, novels, and theater there’s an important age-appropriate factor that needs to be respected. It’s unfortunate that all manga (at least in the U.S.) is often displayed together. This doesn’t work. Younger kids should be able to thumb through stories without having more mature content in such close proximity. I know it’s a space issue, but it’s also a common sense issue.

That problem of wide-ranging content, however, becomes a bonding agent for people who enjoy anime and manga. It’s also what makes Anime Boston so much fun. You get everybody at this event, and amazingly everybody gets along. More conservative types can enjoy the creativity of the cosplayers without having to dress up as their favorite character from “Full Metal Alchemist.” Those who like the live theater aspect can find kindred spirits and pose for a few snapshots. It’s liberating how an otherwise introverted person can be transformed by a costume.

It’s not cheap. It’s going to cost you at least $30 to get in — and the retail area can set you back plenty more. As in years past, there will be workshops, and dances, and chances to meet the people who devote their careers to this art form.

Still not convinced? How about this — MC Frontalot will be there! Yes, you heard right, Damian Hess, the man behind nerdcore rap will hit the stage at Anime Boston 2008. You’ve got three weeks, re-work that calendar and expand your horizons — after all, the geeks will inherit the Earth.


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