New York City's largest otaku gathering, Anime NYC, brought three days of Japanese goodness to the tri-state area from November 16th to 18th. Though the convention wasn't perfect in its second iteration, it improved upon nearly all aspects of the show from last year and managed to present a host of attractions and world premieres that garnered plenty of attention from fans nationwide. It's no wonder why 36,000 unique attendees showed up – more than twice the amount the convention saw in 2017.
Held in Manhattan's Javits Center, this year's Anime NYC expanded the variety of vendors on the show floor. Viz Media, Vertical Comics Kodansha, and Yen Press shared space with smaller comic publishers like TappyToon and Denpa Books. The artist alley saw a substantial expansion as well, with 240 artists coming together on the convention's upper level to sell their goods to eager enthusiasts. The increase in square footage in both areas definitely aided with foot traffic and populated the convention center nicely, as there were hardly any unused spaces to be found.
The main attractions of the show were the Anisong World Matsuri concert, which included performances by Morning Musume, Konomi Suzuki, Luna Haruna, Shoko Nakagawa, and more, a special event dedicated to the Fate/stay night [Heaven’s Feel] movie series, and a number of Fate/Grand Order panels, the likes of which were nearly impossible to avoid as one entered and left the convention.
Of course, Anime NYC hosted a number of guests that included anime and manga creators, voice actors and actresses, and notable cosplayers. Studio Trigger's Hiromi Wakabayashi, Denpa's Range Murata, FLCL and Kill la Kill voice actress Mayumi Shintani, Mob Psycho 100's Setsuo Ito, and Fairy Tail's Todd Haberkorn, Cherami Leigh, Tia Ballard, and Tyler Walker all met with fans and media representatives to talk about their experiences in the industry.
Seasoned convention veterans know that the heart of any show lies with its fans, and Anime NYC 2018 certainly didn't disappoint in that regard. Though Friday saw a lukewarm amount of cosplayers arrive at the event, Saturday had them show up in droves. It seemed like more than half of all attendees dressed up as some character from their favorite anime, manga, or cartoon property, which is surprising considering how late the convention was compared to rivals like Anime Expo and Otakon. A snowstorm earlier in the week may have postponed the cosplans of some fans.
Lines were long, which is to be expected of any anime event in America at this point. Anime NYC's attendees had to wait up to two hours before enter more popular screenings and seek out tickets well in advance lest they miss out on good seats. This was especially evident in Mob Psycho 100's second season premiere (read our review here!), which only allowed seating for one thousand guests. Many, many more unfortunately missed out – an inevitable shame, though something that may be avoided once the Javits Center finishes its renovations.
Part of Anime NYC's charm is the fact that it's held so late in the year. If it were to be sometime earlier, say the early fall or summer, it may not be able to outperform the likes of its aforementioned rivals or New York Comic Con. It's becoming a meeting place to say goodbye to friends until next year's convention shenanigans begin anew. This works to the show's disadvantage, too, as weather inconveniences make it harder for cosplayers to trek out to New York City and give regular convention goers less motivation to attend. This was clear on Friday after Manhattan had experienced a minor snowstorm, though by Saturday everything had more or less disappeared.
Aside from its calendar placement, Anime NYC's other weakness lies in its staff. When rushing to my first interview, I went up to several different representatives of the show to ask them directions to the press room. None of them knew its whereabouts, and I was offered little more than a shrug and gentle apology. Left to my own devices, I went to the show's headquarters to inquire with the staff there. I had to wait on a line of mildly frustrated panelists before asking the staffer where the press room was, and was kindly pointed in the right direction from there. All of this could have been avoided if the convention's representatives were properly trained in all of the venue's locations, though I suppose this is ultimately a minor complaint. Personally, I felt that Anime NYC's staff members were courteous, but not very helpful.
Despite this, Anime NYC is steadily making a case for itself as a vital anime convention for regular attendees. It's poised to attract even more fans next year, if its special events and attractions in 2018 serve as any indication. Anime NYC's unique position as a final spend-off to the year's convention antics is something it can harness further in the future. Here's just hoping the snow stays off the streets of Manhattan forever.