The long-awaited Anime NYC has finally come and gone, bringing with it three full days dedicated to the latest in Japanese pop culture for anime fans within the Tri-State Area. Seeing as how it was the convention's first year, there's a lot of room for improvement in future iterations, though the fundamentals of a great otaku experience have been very well-established.
Right off the bat, Anime NYC delivered in bringing some big name guests to the show floor. Overwatch voice actors like Charlet Chung, Jonny Cruz, Lucie Pohl and Gaku Space were in attendance, in addition to Sailor Moon, Gundam Thunderbolt, and Haikyu!! voice actors. That's not to mention the cosplay guests too, which included the likes of Uncanny Megan, YuffieBunny and Phil Mizuno.
There were also plenty of special events to witness in the form of a masquerade, "Anime Diva Night" and after-party. Oh, and Anime NYC hosted the U.S. premiere of the live-action Fullmetal Alchemist movie – a huge win for the convention and for us anime fans stateside.
Yet despite all the goodness that the Crunchyroll-sponsored con seemed to offer, one couldn't help to feel like there could've been more on display. It's true that the Javits Center is also home to the much bigger New York Comic Con, thus making Anime NYC look very small in comparison, though even the event's guidebook seemed to struggle to host panels that were noteworthy. The usually culprits like industry panels and cosplay how-tos were there, but nothing stuck out as really worth a lot of attention.
It's undoubtedly nice to see an anime convention dedicate a far amount of space to its artist alley, however, which was a great highlight of Anime NYC and arguably a stronger aspect than the show floor proper. Plenty of New York City's top tier talent was on display, coming from both students and professionals, all giving them a level playing ground from which to sell their art to the world.
The main show floor felt weak not only in comparison to the artist alley, but in comparison to other anime conventions in general. There just weren't many vendors that really made a big enough impact or were worthy enough to attract a fairly large crowd of 20,000 people. Sure, Aniplex and Sentai Filmworks were there, but there really wasn't a single company that stuck out or made the floor feel really special.
It's this aspect, then, that Anime NYC really needs to work on should it want to exist alongside greats like Anime Expo, Otakon and Katsucon. The convention needs to justify its reason to have a presence so late in the year when many anime fans are hard at work on their cosplays for 2018 or are already so exhausted from the year prior. I'm sure the event and its sponsors will have no trouble accruing more traction, though how it uses that momentum and gives back to fans remains to be seen.
All in all, Anime NYC was worth the price of admission, if only to hang out with great friends or check out the great otaku art on display in the artist alley. There's plenty of room of improvement, especially in the way of acquiring bigger and better support, though the foundation has been set of what very well could be the Anime Expo of the East Coast. Only time will tell what exactly Anime NYC becomes in its next iterations, though the prospect remains exciting.