The year is now 2018 and I have officially attended my first sci-fi convention. While I have attended anime conventions and pop culture and comic conventions, I have never attended a full-fledged science fiction or fiction convention. This was a new and exciting experience for me. While other members of The Geekly Grind were at Pax South, I was attending Arisia here in Boston.
Held at the Westin Boston Waterfront, Arisia is New England’s largest and most diverse sci-fi and fantasy convention. The convention runs from Friday, January 12th until Monday, January 15th. During this time, attendees will have access to over 700 panels, workshops, screenings, and meet ups. Attendees will also have access to a dealer’s room, art gallery, gaming room, and several common areas to hang out with their geeky brethren.
I was fortunate to be able to attend Saturday and Sunday this year. Saturday alone had over 250 events available for me to attend. Without access to a time-turner, I was unable to attend all the panels, but check out what I was able to make it to below!
Plus Ultra! My Hero Academia: A Fusion of Tropes
A panel hosted by several fans of the series led a discussion on common tropes used in My Hero Academia, what works, and what falls flat. One thing that really stuck out in the discussion was how the students are heroes because they are moral,not moral because they’re heroes, which differs from the classic shonen hero. My Hero Academia also differs from other top shonen series in that there is a clearly defined beginning and end point to the story, with a natural progression towards that end. This makes the show compelling to watch because we can see our heroes struggle to get better to heads towards that ending. It also allows the show to avoid filler episodes that plague other shonen series.
An interesting thing pointed out by one of the panelists who manages a comic shop is that fans of superhero manga are not typically fans of Western superhero comics. However, fans of Western comics are trending to be fans of superhero manga. It was an interesting anecdote and will have me paying attention to see how Western comics handle their marketing and brand now that manga is becoming more popular.
All in all, it was an extremely interesting discussion panel among like-minded fans. Attendees for this panel were teenagers and young adults, with an even split between male and female fans.
Anime’s Global Influence
If there was one thing I learned from this panel it’s that Dragonball Z connects fans globally. Seriously though, you can travel the world and meet anime fans. The mutual geek out will bridge any language barriers.
Besides the global impact on fans, this panel focused on how Anime is changing Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole. While Hollywood hasn’t quite nailed it yet with their adaptations, directors such as Tarantino and Del Toro do it right when it comes to homages in their works. Streaming services are also buying into anime and collaborating on with Japanese studios to distribute. One important point to make known is that they’re the platform, not the influencers.
This insightful and speculative panel brought in an older crowd of fans.
Magical Girls: Yesterday, Today, and Beyond
This was another panel led by fans of the magical girl genre. There was a big focus on discussing the power and femininity in magical girls shows, especially in the transformation sequence. These magical girls (and boys) own and embrace what makes them femme and feel empowered by it.
Rather than focusing on fighting and destruction, these shows focus on fixing and healing. The fight sequences are typically metaphors for expressing emotion and getting through emotional conflict. The one downside to magical girl shows is that we know magical girls are never in any real physical, despite the mass amounts of power they throw around.
An interesting thing to note is that western shows make all the magical girls a team. Typically, the magical girl works solo or in a duo, such as with Cardcaptor Sakura. The West is usually influenced by Sailor Moon, which was one of the first shows to feature a lineup of magical girls.
As a fan of magical girl shows, I really enjoyed how insightful the panelists were in this discussion. I made up part of a diverse audience age wise, with a surprising number of men in attendance.
This panel was led by a team of well-versed authors working in a myriad of different genres all wanting to know the answer to this question: should all characters be a badass? With their guidance and expertise, audience members were able to determine what makes a character badass. A major take away was that fear is valid and badass characters will have fears. Panelists also advised on how to avoid certain pitfalls, such as over-projecting their heroics or swagger. Something else to keep in mind is that in the end, the audience decides if a character is a badass or not. The best you can do is write an authentic character.
An incredibly unique experience. This workshop taught the basics of the waltz. A pair of dancers led the workshop through the basic footwork and turns that go in to the waltz. There was a rather large turnout, with an even mix of male and female attendees. It was a challenging, but delightful event, made better by my dance partners. Everyone was extremely kind, friendly, and respectful. I certainly won’t be forgetting this lesson!
Geeky Belly Dance
I feel like I have seen belly dancing before, but never intersected with nerd culture. This event showcased belly dancers performing different sci-fi and fantasy themed routines. From Darth Vader to Wonder Woman, with music ranging from traditional to Beyoncé, fandoms were celebrated by a group of empowered women. It was an amazing event, and I will be actively looking for more like this in the community.
All in all, Saturday was a great first day of Arisia. I had an incredible time connecting with and hearing from fellow fans. Be sure to check out my review and recap on Sunday’s panels as well!