It was my very great pleasure to attend the very first AnimeNYC this weekend, held at Javits Convention Center in New York City, NY. In many ways, the story of AnimeNYC is the story of a plucky young man and his vision of an anime and manga convention in New York City.
Just to put this event in some kind of context, I want you to cast your mind back to the early 2000s for a moment. In an attempt to create an industry trade show, Central Park Media created the Big Apple Anime Festival. Originally designed to be for the industry with, perhaps, industry awards, CPM opened it up to larger media companies like Sony and King Records, which are deeply embedded in the anime trade on the Japanese and movie release side. It lasted only a few years, for lack of industry support. (Not long after, I attempted to rouse the manga industry to create a trade association, and found, as had CPM, the industry itself wasn’t mature enough to understand the point of an industry trade association.) Fans complained about the idea of a corporate-run con, but then came anyway, as they always do, which is why “fans complained” is the most meaningless statement in all of anime and manga blogging.
A few years after BAAF, a former CPM employee created the New York Anime Festival, which premiered alongside New York Comic Con. It was a valiant attempt to recognize that there was overlap in the comics/media and manga/anime market. That lasted a few years, until Comic-Con’s show organizers Reed Pop hired that former CPM employee and had him run the anime and manga programming of an increasingly large New York Comic-Con. But, as NYCC got larger, it looked at San Diego Comic-Con with big dewy eyes and decided it too wanted to be a media con.
Luckily for us, NYCC resisted that by being not on the west coast, home of TV and movies, but by being in New York City, home of book and comic publishing. For the last few years, NYCC has focused on books, comics and manga, leaving the TV and movie stars to SDCC. But still, it looks longingly towards Tinseltown, but no further. NYCC is big enough to bring in Viz and Funimation, and Kodansha and Vertical and Yen are all local, so yes, they have a presence at NYCC, but that plucky young lad felt that NYCC eating NYAF wasn’t what he wanted.
So that former CPM, former Reed Expo employee, plucky young lad and a guy I have known for a grillion years, Peter Tatara, tried again. Third time may be the charm.
Javits is just the place for a corporate con. At Javits you’ll never forget that the event is not “fan-run.” And that’s not only okay…it’s a good thing. There needs to be a higher standard for some events than “hey kids, let’s put on a show!” And, realistically, while fans often think of the really big cons in the USA as “corporate” that’s only true for the Comic conventions. Having a Board of Directors does not make a con corporate run. There’s only a very small handful of corporate-run conventions in the anime/manga world. Yaoi-con, run by DPM and Crunchyroll Expo are the only two I can think of off the top of my head. And, now, AnimeNYC, run by Left Field Media and supported by Crunchyroll.
To begin with, AnimeNYC was a great size for a first year con. About 25K attendees, 30 with guests and vendors and staff, it takes up one section of Javits. Panels are immediately to the right of the Dealer’s Room. Sadly, the Artist Alley was upstairs which meant that I never had a chance to get over there, as I ran out of time. The number of attendees meant that the con was large and lively, but not crushing.
Line management was variable. The AnimeNYC staff handles things well, were always polite and helpful and everything went smoothly. The Javits center security was their usual dumpster fire of incoherent line management, shoutiness and general incompetence. They make a huge show of security and bag checks that slowed us all down at the entrance, but it would have been no trouble at all to sneak in a bar of C4 and a few detonation devices. I’m not joking, they never looked past the scarf on top of my bag. I could have had *anything* in there.
Tons of Sailor Moon and Utena cosplayers walking around, in part due to two huge Sailor Moon premiers happening at the event, including a Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3 premiere with the entire dub cast today. While I will not make that, I do hope to have something for you later that will make up for that.
As I always do, I spent most of my time talking with vendors and staff. I took a moment to talk to Kodansha about the upcoming Eternal Sailor Moon edition. The Kodansha rep Ben assured me that everyone working on the book just loves how it’s coming out. He said he thinks the covers will look even better than the Japanese version. Again, I was told that Takeuchi-sensei is getting final approval on everything, which again, makes me happy. She changed the world, she gets to have her say.
Yen Press couldn’t confirm anything beyond the one Eclair anthology, but they promised to let me know if that changes. And let me tell you, the folks there are super awesome. I’m hoping to bring them some goodies back from Japan that will motivate them to license some more Yuri. ^_^
No one had licenses that were relevant to us here, but I want to take a moment to note that licensing announcements from the anime and manga companies are way more frequent than they used to be. Even though NYCC was just a few weeks ago, there were licensing announcements from the companies who came to the event, which included Funimation and Sentai Filmworks and Viz made announcements although they didn’t have a booth. I recommend following Sean Gaffney’s reporting on the announcements and panels.
There’s a new manhwa webcomic site in town, Tappy Toon. They have one short Yuri story, Seasons in Bloom, right now, but Ernest was open to new stories if there was interest.
And MangaGamers would like to remind you that the Sono Hanabira/ A Kiss for the Petals series (which I really have to admit, for myself I do not find even slightly appealing, but which I know are very popular) is available. MG Rep John also told me that there’s a new Yuri series on the way that he couldn’t even tease, but that we’d all recognize.
Congrats to the AnimeNYC team, and thank you to everyone who spoke with me – great job well done. I look forward to being able to participate next year!
I’m heading out for Comitia and the Kaigai Festa and, hopefully, Comic Arts Tokyo! AND I’ve got something exciting lined up for tomorrow, so you don’t miss me too much.