Boston, MA - April 23, 2011: 'Java' and his current wife or waifu, Ne Chen, share a drink at the convention hall at Hynes Convention Center during Anime Boston 2011. Photo by Matthew Healey
Well I learned what a waifu is this weekend. A waifu is, um, you know what I'm still not entirely too sure. I can tell you how that word came into my vocabulary and what it means to one person at least.
This past Saturday while working for The Boston Herald I had some time to go out and enterprise. I heard from my sister that the anime convention was in town. I missed the convention the past few years but finally had my chance to check it out.
I found my way to the press table at the convention hall and managed to get a credential. I talked to one of the volunteers and he said that they were expecting something like 18,000 participants and that Anime Boston is the biggest convention in the northeast.
Not even ten feet out the door and I spot 'Java' and his waifu. He was sitting in a cafe having a drink with the body pillow. My interest was piqued so I went over and started chatting with him and asking about the pillow. He explained to me that waifu is just the Japanese pronunciation of the English word wife. He said that in this context the waifu is earned through a Japanese dating simulation video game called 'Love Plus'. 'Java' plays the game and changes waifu's as he plays. He told me he doesn't normally go out in public with the pillow version of his current waifu but feels comfortable bringing it out at Anime Conventions. As I was talking to him a handful of convention goers stopped and asked if they could take photos of him. One even went so far to thank 'Java' for having the courage to bring his waifu out in public.
It was a good start to what turned out to be an interesting day. There were lots of people dressed in costumes. Cosplay, as it's called is a big part of these conventions. People go out in elaborate, usually hand made costumes, of characters they like or identify with from anime, video games, manga (comics). When together in groups they may put on an impromptu performance of a scene from a TV show or movie, or video game.
I have to admit, the extent of my knowledge of the whole anime world and cosplay culture begins and ends with Akira. Okay, that and Ghost in the Shell, and Ninja Scroll, but thats, it I promise (totally grew up watching Grandizer). Anyway there is obviously a lot more to it than a few popular action films. It's a pretty interesting culture and a goldmine for photography. Sadly I had to call it after an hour and a half, I needed to get back to listening to the police scanner.
Here are a few scenes from the day. Leave a comment and let me know what you think and please keep it civil.
And as always check out my website http://www.matthealey.com for my full portfolio and follow me on twitter @matthealeyphoto
Boston, MA - Lara Tang, of Boston dressed as Hizaki from the band Versailles, rests on a windowsill during Anime Boston 2011 at the Hynes Convention Center. Photo by Matthew Healey
Boston, MA - Todd (last name withheld) dressed as Princess Leah from Star wars, is led around by Tiana (last name withheld) who is dressed as Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars during Anime Boston 2011 at the Hynes Convention Center. Photo by Matthew Healey