Rising from the ashes of New York Anime Festival, sponsored by Crunchyroll, Anime NYC kicked off its inagural year this past weekend. I decided to get the VIP pass soon as they came out, although sadly they didn’t get any guests I truly wanted to see. That said it wasn’t a total loss so I’ll give my thoughts on the con and overall experience.
To start off, I wasn’t actually much at the con at all. The biggest plus of the con was that our badges were mailed to us, whether you were VIP or not. This is amazing and you’d be surprised how a lot of cons don’t do this. This is the first time I’ve been to a con in years that actually had my badge mailed to me weeks beforehand. This means I didn’t have to come in thursday night for badge pick up, or stand in line friday morning to check in. That said there was a line to get your “con goodies” for people not in VIP but it seemed like it moved rather quickly. The VIP “line” was basically like 4 people 😂.
I’ll be honest, I got the VIP in order to get guaranteed autographs BUT I enjoyed a lot of the “no wait” perks. I had a friend visiting from out of state this weekend and I wanted to take him to a bunch of nice Japanese restaurants in NYC. Because of this we would often come back right before any big panels/events or would come back a little late. No problem, we had like 3 rows of empty chairs reserved for all of us. Usually the middle front 2-3 rows would be full but everywhere else was basically deserted so even sitting on the “front” of one of the side rows was nice for me – a short person who hates when really tall people sit in front of me and block my view with their big heads. Also we took advantage of the VIP perk by getting into the dealers room first thing on Saturday morning. This allowed us to browse and shop for an hour without the place being a madhouse which was a huge plus. Also by being closer to the front, I didn’t need my gigantic zoom camera (which I have since sold on ebay) to get any decent photos of people on stage. The line for the Full Metal Alchemist movie was insane – if you didn’t have the VIP pass or wer there waiting hours in advance. We walked in basically 10 min before it started and got 3rd middle row seats 😂 (sadly I still had to find a gap where I could not have my view blocked by someone’s big head lmao). I guess the downside is the “main stage” where they did performances/shows just had folding chairs set up and was not a real theater so all the seats are equal height and its luck of the draw of who sits in front of you.
The only thing that annoyed me with VIP is holy fuq those bags are ugly and heavy and bulky and I honestly just wanted to give mine away to someone. Someone in the dealers room saw it and thought it was the coolest thing ever so I guess to each their own but I didn’t like it at all. The other thing is some of the stuff that came in the VIP bag was just ??? For example the coupons they gave us 10% off – were fo IN STORE only. That means I’d have to leave the con, and make my way to Kinokuniya/Midtown Comics to actually use the coupon. Why not let us use it in the dealer’s room? Unless we could have and I just assumed we couldn’t. 😐 Also for some odd reason there was no program guide included in our bags. I was thinking they just never bothered making one and wanted us to rely on the guidebook app – but turns out one existed and I had to get a copy at the VIP desk the next day wut. The limited edition lanyard also didn’t feel very secure to me, felt like I could accidentally unclip and lose my VIP badge so I ended up using the Crunchyroll lanyard all weekend instead. I read there was a VIP concierge somewhere but I don’t think I ever found it all weekend…if it was somewhere near the artist alley it was never obvious and I never noticed it lol. The staff was also very odd and had no idea where to direct people sometimes even if you were a VIP. VIP also apparently didn’t give you priority in line for autographs. You were in the same line as anyone else with an “autograph ticket” so while I thought my autographs with the 3 singer ladies would be an in & out thing, I ended up having to wait 40 minutes in line before I even got to go in anyway.
Diva Panel & Diva Night
I was kinda meh about everything at first, but out of all the guests at the con this interested me the most. I’ve been listening to Ishida Yoko’s songs ever since I heard 好きと言って and I loved Yonekura Chihiro’s “Butterfly Kiss” ever since the Rave anime aired back in the day. Overall they were all so cute, and even True, who I know nothing about, was a really great singer. I’d even go as far as say her live singing was the best out of all 3 of them so I hope she does songs for anime/games that I like in the future. Their live performance was great too because they sang a lot of songs that weren’t even theirs like Moonlight 伝説 (the original sailor moon OP), 残酷天使のテーゼ (evangelion OP) and Sailor Star Song (the op to Sailor Stars). Yonekura-san also sang her iconic Butterfly Kiss while Ishida-san sang her Otome no Policy. They even had a crowd of idol dudes waving their uo’s up in the front 😂. I didn’t know this was a thing so I whipped out my smartphone with a glowstick app like a loser 😂😂😂. The autograph session was a bit awkward because I first had to wait in line 40 minutes since they only let in 5 people at a time (and they prioritized those who had sailor moon autograph session tickets). Once I got in, I wasn’t sure if I was getting 1 autograph at a time, or I was to give it to all 3. I could tell True wasn’t too pleased when I gave novelty items to Ishida-san and Yonekura-san and just kinda gave her my con pamphlet to sign. I didn’t want her to sign the poster since my husband was getting that done instead and we’d just have duplicates. Yonekura-san was super excited about seeing me whip out Suran Digit 😂😂 and Ishida-san was getting nostalgic about my probably 20 year old Sailor Moon shitajiki lol.
Overall I think Yonekura-san was my fav, she was so happy and genki and honestly just put a smile on my face with her performance and excitement to see the fans and be in NYC. One thing I remembered my friend messaging me “did you stay for the high touch?” and I go “what is a high touch”. Apparently after the concert they vaguely said “those who are here for the special event stay, everyone else leave.” I didn’t know of any special event so we just left – but apparently I guess if you were a VIP, you could stay after the concert when the ladies ran by and touched everyone’s hands?? My friend who was a regular ticket holder apparently got an email about this, but I never got anything. I’m not upset since I ended up shaking their hands at the autograph session – but overall I feel like despite being VIP, the communication left a lot to be desired.
I actually went back to the artist alley twice because there was so much great stuff and SO LITTLE ROOM TO WALK I kept getting shoved around and barely had any opportunity to look at everyone’s stuff in detail. I did buy a few FF14 buttons but overall I didn’t really see a lot of stuff that interested me (aka otome games.) Most stuff there was FFXV, Overwatch, Sailor Moon and a few Yuri on Ices. (Btw that ONE really good Yuri on Ice table was basically a mob all weekend and I just gave up even trying to see what was for sale orz.) I did however stop by a fan’s table, and if you’re reading this, thanks for all the nice buttons!! (・∀・) It was great to meet you! One final word about AA I can say is, in the past I used to run AA tables at a few cons and I can say that the amount of people that use the big hanging displays has definitely become a standard. Back in my days only a few people had the big displays but now I only saw maybe 2-3 tables without one. This made them look really sad & pathetic and it made me realize how important these big displays are. They are a huge eye catch to people who walk by, especially in a huge crowd where you can barely see the tables period. So those of you who are thinking about doing artist alley at anime cons, PUT UP THE BIG DISPLAYS and your business will probably double. P.S. Please sell otome game merch besides Mystic Messenger (´;д;`)ﾌﾞﾜｯ I was hoping I’d find someone with collar x malice stuff but alas that was not to be. Maybe next year.
Full Metal Alchemist
On Sunday they had the US premiere of the Full Metal Alchemist movie. It got a lot of slack in Japan for not following the story, not having european looking characters so the director actually APOLOGIZED on stage about it and told everyone in the room to “enjoy it as its own thing”. Uhh..that was rather sad that he actually had to do that. I thought the movie was okay, and obviously he said he didn’t plan to make a sequel unless the first movie did well – but the first movie ends on an obvious cliffhanger that NEEDS a sequel so he better make one or Japan fans will get even angrier. 😂 Honestly, my only beef is with their choice of appearance for Winry. You make young Ed & Al have blondish hair, you make teen Ed have BLONDE HAIR, you make Riza have BLONDE HAIR yet Winry just looks like some random high school girl out of a Japanese teen drama. I don’t understand. Her blonde hair is an iconic part of her appearance so couldn’t you have asked her to dye it or wear a wig? Why is she the only one who you don’t even bother putting effort into 😤?? Either put effort into everyone, or just make them all standard looking Japanese cast – I just want there to be consistency. I think the best character renditions compared to the anime/manga were Hughes, Mustang, Envy and Lust. Movie itself aside, there were technical glitches at the which basically froze the image on screen while the text kept going and the audience started being like “wtf”. In the middle of the movie, one of the idiot staff sat down near a pole near the VIP seats and started talking loudly to whoever the fuck he was on the phone with. Like the movie would be a serious quiet scene then you’d suddenly hear “what? yea man, I got u”….wtf? Is this some volunteer staff? Sometimes in other panels some staff would stand in the stupidest place and block my view of the stage…at one point I almost got up and told them to get the hell out of the way but eventually they moved their stupid asses. So yea some of the staff here, left much to be desired. They also claimed not to take any videos/photos during concerts events but holy shit during the Diva concert, the video on the “panel” you could literally see someone’s smartphone recording the performance 😂😂😂. I did see them pull someone out of their seat and yell at them during the movie but not completely kick them out. ┐(´д｀)┌ﾔﾚﾔﾚ
Masquerade Ultra Deluxe
If Ultra Deluxe is what we got this year, I’ll take the non Deluxe version next year. Not only was the Masquerade itself super short, they decided it was a great idea to waste an hour playing drawing sherades with random people from the audience. I waited through 4 rounds of this hoping they’d finally announce the winners….but they then announced they’d start yet ANOTHER round. That’s when all of us booked it out of there and from what I saw on twitter, we didn’t miss much other than some dude dancing with Uncle Yo to Sakura Kiss 😐. I barely had any time this weekend to take pics or find any cosplayers I liked so I really had my hopes hyped up for the Masquerade. It also didn’t help that there was a lot of non-anime cosplay that I wasn’t familiar with (like Love Live or Fire Emblem). I was pretty shocked that there was literally only 1 yuri on ice cosplayer at the masquerade. I saw so many here & there around the con, I guess not many people wanted to actually be in the masquerade – even to just do walk ons? Surely it couldn’t have been because they ran out of time because that hour they used for stupid games could have been used for more walk ons in my opinion. 😐 My favorite skit of the night ended up being the Project Diva trio doing the lip sync dance to the songs from there. Their costumes & dance was really good so I hope they won something!
I didn’t spend much time at the con aside big events because none of the panels interested me OR —the biggest problem— scheduling conflicts. For example, the Sailor Moon S3 premiere was exactly at the same time as the FMA movie on Sunday. A lot of other screenings I wanted to see were during the time I had already made dinner reservations for my group and it’s hard to find a good place to eat for a group of 5 without prior reservations. Meanwhile for example on Saturday morning there was basically nothing so I ended up leaving the con a lot to travel to restaurants and come back right before big events or signings. I feel like I didn’t spend much time at the con itself at all but maybe that will change next year. The freaking piece of shit MTA decided this weekend would be a great weekend to do repairs on the 7 train, so on Saturday & Sunday the 7 was not running forcing you to take shuttles – which I had no clue where they picked you up from so I ended up walking so much I think I clocked in 21,000 steps on Sat. One of my friends got multiple blisters on his feet as well.
As I mentioned, some of the staff was very vague and unclear about stuff, especially where events were. For example you’d ask where is autograph session X and they’d be like “what?” because they didn’t know shit about the con – they only knew where the rooms were so you had to actually look up what room you were going to before asking anyone – and well by then you could just take the 5 minutes to find it on the map yourself….aka the random people they found off the street were completely useless. Some staff couldn’t even direct you to where a line ended and just pointed you in a direction…at which point you ask someone in line why they are here and they also happen to be a confused person in the wrong line. The bag checking was nice though, with all the shit going on lately, it was nice to feel a little safer going around in the con. The other annoyance, which is pretty common at cons, is people using bathrooms to change in and out of their cosplay. This gets worse when you have 3 stalls, 1 is out of order and 2 are being used by cosplayers to change. I could have sworn I saw a “cosplay changing room” listed on the guide so this was really irritating. I actually had to just walk around the javits center and find other bathrooms that weren’t being hogged by Saber trying to adjust her armor bra. 😤
Overall though, I think I would come back to the con and get a VIP pass again. It’s really conveniently close to home so I don’t have to spend money traveling out of state. The VIP pass helped me be really lax about going to stuff without having to line up beforehand. My regular pass friends had to get up at 6AM to lineup to secure autograph tickets and tbh I don’t think I could do that. The dealers room this year was really nice because people now use this app where they can scan your card or put your card # in so you don’t always need to carry a wad of cash to buy stuff at the con. I’ll probably try to maybe buy food at the con next time or only go to places close by so I can be at the con more often to do stuff like take pics of cosplayers or attend more panels. Hopefully there will be less scheduling conflicts next year and perhaps more guests that interest me. Overall I think for its first year, it was fairly decently organized, way better than the mess that I’ve gone to many years at Otakon (where the paper schedule is basically useless the day of the con and panels have rooms changed with no warning, an hour before the event etc.) Many thanks to Crunchyroll and Peter Tatara for reviving a con in NYC and looking forward to 2018!