Anime NYC held its second ever anime convention in New York City this weekend from November 16-18, 2018. They built on last year’s wild success of 20,000 attendees to reach 30,000+ attendees this year. This increase definitely showed as the convention floor was much more crowded than it was last year. Anime NYC definitely has much more room and potential for growth as they still only inhabit one end of the Javits Convention Center.
However, the increase in warm bodies seemed to have come at a price. While last year the convention was run in a fairly organized manner, this year it was absolutely and inexcusably chaotic on Friday. Gleaming from second-hand sources, the convention center did not open its doors in the morning when they said they would and thus left a lot of folk waiting outside in the cold weather (there was a snowstorm the day before). When 1:00 PM rolled around for the opening of the Exhibit Hall, it was absolutely pandemonium as there were lines and crowds everywhere and no one seemed to know how to proceed. Staffers then showed up to hastily erect red-taped lanes in order to begin herding the crowds into the Exhibit Hall, and no one seemed to know where the end of the line actually was. It was almost as if they somehow didn’t know that they would have such a large crowd waiting for them to open their doors and were completely caught with their pants down. It took a good hour or two for the lines to finally die down.
Last year they had an organized system where everyone was directed to line up in Hall 1C (a large, spacious, open room) and when the doors opened those lines would be directed into the show floor first before they would open it up to “late comers”. I don’t know why they didn’t do the same thing this year but after the mess that was Friday morning and afternoon the convention did announce new plans for Saturday and Sunday to direct people to line up in Hall 1C like last year in order to avoid repeating the same debacle.
Line-con continued throughout the weekend as a lot of the major panels and events essentially required you to line up for that event well in advance in order to avoid being left out as a lot of them ended up being capped well before the start of the event. I really hope Anime NYC continues to expand its presence in the Javits Center as they badly need more space both for foot traffic and for panel room capacity. This also leads into a minor criticism that I had last year in which the entire convention seems just a bit too commercialized as almost all of the panels and events were industry-sponsored. There were very little in terms of fan panels and all of the voice actor and industry guests were only there for the industry events and autographs and didn’t really have any panels focusing just on the individuals (like a solo or general Q&A panel with the voice actors). Now don’t get me wrong, having a large industry presence isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the companies are able to bring and show cool things that they may not otherwise be able to do (or would be willing to do). But I do feel as though the convention doesn’t have the personal connections to either the fans or to the guests.
Some additional complaints that I (and many people) have is the fact that each section of the convention center had its own bag inspection security point that you had to go through. Instead of having just one bag check to allow you to enter and move freely around the convention space, each time that you wanted to hop between the panels, Exhibit Hall, Artist Alley, or the Main Stage you had to wait in line to get your bags inspected again. This just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever and is a complete waste of time for the attendees and a waste of resources to have so many security checkpoints. Another issue that people have is the ticket system that they employ for the free autograph sessions. They only gave out tickets for those autograph sessions first-come-first-serve in the early morning so if you arrived later in the day you were SOL in being able to attend those autograph sessions. I really don’t know why they can’t just have people line up for autograph sessions like most other conventions do.
Alright, so maybe that was a lot of gripes. However it’s not like this convention was a total disaster or anything. There was plenty to see, do, and enjoy. Bringing the Anisong World Matsuri concerts to New York was pretty cool (separate ticketed events, I only went to the Friday one and missed out on the Saturday concert). And as a huge fan of the Fate franchise I was really happy to see a huge Fate presence at the convention and the special Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel panel and concert by singer Aimer was just amazing (although again, a separate ticketed event). And if I may, one last gripe that I had about the convention is that even though they emphasized the Fate franchise so much they for some reason did not schedule to have a Fate series cosplay photoshoot on their list of official cosplay meet ups. It just seemed strange when some of the smaller or older fandoms got a meet up time slot when Fate did not.
I truly feel that this convention still has a great potential for growth despite all of my previous gripes. It does feel a bit commercialized and less personal than some other anime conventions, but hopefully in the upcoming years they can find ways to make it better.
Click here to go to my Facebook photography page where I uploaded a photo album from the My Hero Academia cosplay photoshoot.
Click here to go to my YouTube channel where I uploaded my video recordings of the Fate/Grand Order Localization Panel and of the Cosplay Masquerade Contest (not yet available at the time of this article’s posting).