Animation / Conventions / Pop Culture

Anime Comes To NYC

AnimeNYC 2021

Anime Comes To NYC

The Hell’s Kitchen section of New York City was a bustling, colorful explosion of excitement this weekend as the Jacob Javits Center played home again to Anime NYC – a con starting in 2017 that brings together tens of thousands of fans annually – all with a deep love and appreciation for anime, manga, gaming and cosplay. Even as a relatively young convention, Anime NYC without a doubt recorded its highest attendance this year with 53,000 congoers packing the halls of the Javits Center looking to share their passion for anime with others who also have a love and appreciate Japanese pop culture. 

Running from the 19th to the 21st of November, anime enthusiasts could purchase three-day passes, or single day passes for Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Day one started off a bit rocky, and organizers had to work out some major kinks in planning that left thousands of fans waiting hours, in blocks long lines to receive their badges and get COVID vaccination wristbands with mandatory proof of vaccine (or proof of negative COVID test for guests under the age of 11).

Organizers had to move quickly to bring on more staff, open additional entry points into the convention center and work more effectively for Saturday. Specific instructions and apology emails were sent to all attendees late Friday afternoon explaining the changes and how they will do better in future days to offer the best experience for all attendees. Saturday seemed to run smoother. Some lines were still long, but they definitely moved people in much quicker and on day two.

Since we arrived on Saturday, we did miss most of the entry turmoil from Friday, but we also missed some of the cool events and panels – most importantly the MHA concert Friday night. During the show, talented composer Yuki Hayashi and others performed an electrifying concert featuring the music he has composed for the first five seasons of My Hero Academia. From what we hear from other attendees, that was a true highlight.

Much of Anime NYC was sponsored by the biggest names in anime and manga like Crunchyroll, Funimation, Aniplex and Viz Media. Huge, bright and colorful advertising banner filled the convention center sharing release dates as well as new episodes and games on the horizon, while promo video ads rolled throughout the weekend on screens around the Javits Center.

Panels are one of the best parts of cons and there were dozens of interesting panels throughout the weekend. We sat in on several, including the Demon Slayer panel on the main stage on Saturday at noon. Attendees enjoyed seeing Zach Aguilar (Tanjiro Kamado), Aleks Le (Zenitsu Agatsuma) and fan favorite Bryce Papenbrook (Inouske Hashibira). The three voice actors talked about working together, season one of popular anime and the movie – released earlier this year – Demon Slayer: Mugen Train. The guys even shared some gaming time with the audience playing Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles and had special video clips from other voice actors from the popular anime.

All cons have cosplayers and we’ve covered most of them. But we can definitely say that Anime NYC proved to have more cosplayers than we had ever seen. While some were extremely elaborate, others were just simple costumes showing the attendees love for a specific game, manga or anime. It was nice to see the comradery of perfect strangers dressed from the same show. JoJo cosplayers were high fiving other JoJo cosplayers, Demon Slayer enthusiasts were taking photos with other DS fans, etc.…. Anime NYC is definitely a bonding experience for anime lovers and fandoms.

Other highlights for attendees were cosplay costumes contests, voice actor signings and meet and greets, fan meet ups and an amazing artist alley section. There was an atmosphere of excitement, appreciation and respect throughout the halls, but one drawback from the amounts of people attending was the show was that the floor was crowded at times and though the work was impressive by many artists in artist alley, unfortunately we couldn’t even get near their tables to appreciate it.

While Anime NYC was an awesome time and we will definitely attend again, management will certainly need to be better prepared for next year’s crowds. Beyond how to handle entry for tens of thousands of people, another improvement needed is bringing back mandatory bag checks which was stopped on Saturday at our entry point to move people in quicker. On a side note, we felt completely safe at all times, (there were police officers with dogs and security guards walking around) as well as an air of kinship and friendship throughout attendees, but we feel it’s important to say that bag checks are still an important safety measure in this day and age.

We would recommend checking out this exciting weekend next year. We feel confident that the people from Anime NYC learned where they need to do better in 2022 and without a doubt, this is an amazing experience for someone who loves anime, cosplay, gaming and Japanese pop culture.

Deborah Wagner

Copyright ©2021 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: November 24, 2021.

Photos by Deborah Wagner and JoJo Wagner © 2021.

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