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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

New York Anime and Comic Communities Combine!
Posted by Ciello in Conventions October 29, 2010 at 08:23:10 PM

When it was first announced that comicon and the new york anime festival were merging and becoming one event, I have to admit I had my reservations. Reed exhibitions, the company that organizes each event, clearly has a host of good reasons to combined both. New York Anime Fest is mostly just a dealer's room with some panels tacked on (not nearly the variety of entertainment that other cons offer), so it would mesh well with a larger event. Comicon doesn't have as obvious of a gain, but it could be argued that US comics are losing younger audiences to anime and manga, so some cross-pollination might be good there. Whatever the reasons, there were a lot of worries that the cons would be diminished slightly by the merge.

And they were right, more or less. Anime events were fairly under-represented in this con. The anime area was literally tucked away in the corner of the convention. It wasn't as much of a merger as it was a co-existing. This was clearest when walking from one section to the other, where the average age of the persons around you would drop by 15 or 20 years. So yes, from an anime standpoint, the con did not really stand up to the other east coast bigwigs. But from a general standpoint, it was still a fairly awesome event.

Being a resident new yorker, I have been to the Javitz Center a large number of times, but this weekend was the first time I saw an event take up the *ENTIRE* place. It's a very large place, designed before recent additions to handle up to 80,000 people. And every square foot of the place that wasn't under construction was covered in comics, anime, games, and artists.

It was crowded. I've heard estimates that range from the official cap of 80k people to 100k+. No matter where you went, there was a wall of people. Fortunately the Javitz center is well equipped to handle those loads, and the army of comicon "hero" volunteers kept the things running quite smoothly, all things considered. I felt dwarfed by the crowds that were everywhere, but I have to say that the space usage was actually better than comicon by itself last year. Before the two cons merged, comicon only took up one of the floors of the con center, and to navigate through that year you literally had to use your elbows. This year was better much better, and that is despite the countless numbers of well-done costumes we saw, which have a tendency to stop human traffic while we take pictures.

There were lots of guests, in fact at any given time there was nearly a city block of them. All talented creators of one vein or another, lined up in the artist's alley to meet with fans and sign tokens. Some of the lines for these creators could wrap around a square city block. Seriously, just take a look at this list. It's massive.

There was a professional presence there from the games industry, something that anime cons are almost entirely unused to. Several new and upcoming games were available for demo play, and there was even a digital Colosseum displaying live starcraft II matches, MCed by an announcer as well. Intel was sponsoring much of it, I believe, and their website states there was 50k in prizes at stake for the combatants.

There wasn't a lot of "big reveals," which is one way that this event lags behind its sister in San Diego. One of the great things about SDCC is the ability to get sneak peaks at upcoming movies and such that are relevant our interests. On the flipside, there were fun panels. Getting to catch the robot chicken and venture brothers panels back-to-back nearly had me in stitches with laughter.

Sadly, I was unable to make the masquerade, but a quick browsing of youtube shows that there were some very talented skits this year. I think my favorite, though, is the dancing mario. And of course the masquerade was hosted by Uncle Yo, the anime comedian who has become a staple of the new york shows since NYAF's inception.

Like any convention this size, there were a collection of things to be obtained that couldn't normally be found by a quick online search or stroll to your neighborhood forbidden planet. I found one dealer who specialized in european comics that had no stateside distributors. This man's booth was a treasure trove, and the rare opportunity to see things like this is one of the reasons fan conventions originally started up years and years ago.

In the end, I'd say the convention was an overwhelming success. In every sense of the word, because the masses of people were certainly threatening to overwhelm the center's vast facilities. The anime area was weak, but this con really has as least something to appeal in everyone. And that everyone includes a much wider range of fans than can usually be found in an anime con. I certainly don't hope other anime conventions follow this pattern and merge with another niche, but I can't say I'm sad that this is what happened to new york's only real local con.

We do things different in this city, and it tends to work out well for us that way. I'm looking forward to what they have for us next year. If nothing else, to see what awesome costumes people come up with. See here for the Photo Gallery!

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