Anime NYC 2019: Wrap

This year, Anime NYC brought in some mad luxury guests. Kugimiya Rie probably is the headliner, after Lantis Festival 2019’s lineup of JAM Project, True, ZAQ and Guilty Kiss. In the middle there’s old man Tomino being weirder than ever, as well as the director and writer behind Code Geass the movie and Yukana. There are also fresh youngins like Itou Miku, shilling Bang Dream and Fragtime. There was a surprise visit from Tanezaki Atsumi. Ise Mariya came to the States again–I’m going to go to the same con she traveled out of Japan for this year all three time at this rate–but I missed her panel. Yuki Aoi and Okubo Rumi rounds out the industry heavy fire power with their Fate/GO promo. And that’s just the most notable ones. I got a signkai with Science Saru’s Eunyoung Choi, which was nice! The mangaka/writer duo for Dr. Stone was hard at work, location scouting the USS Enterprise earlier in the weekend. I didn’t even see TAa (well, I guess I saw that group in the hallway), or people like Vofan or Poppy. Poppy. LOL. And this is not even all the JP production or artists at the con. There were way too many guests. I’m just glad a lot of them don’t have a lot of engagement or are outside my interests.

To me this is the first half of the recipe of happiness. The other half is competently executing the “con” part. The pre-con communication, the online sales, the right autograph process, the right ticketing process, the at-con line management, et cetera. And for the most party ANYC 2019 did okay. Other than the Lantis Fest line craziness I think everything was good, but that did sour my experience.

The funny thing was by Sunday I barely had anything to do at the con. Outside of Kugyuu programming, there were not much going on. This is great! Please program your top tier seiyuu guests outside the other ones. Granted I still missed on all the Yukana programming, but that was more my fault than the con’s. The concert only was one day this year, which helped also make time for the crazy pile of programs going on saturday.

Not having to get up early and go to the con was a nice bonus. I still end up getting up pretty early all 3 days, but at least I was at the con unlike prior years, and two of the 3 days I commuted from home, not from my friend’s place which is much closer to the city.

Yes, overall, ANYC 2019 was great. It leveraged the vacuum of NYC anime con-ness and blew up big. It was run by folks who knew what they were doing, and by people who had enough vision and capability to host a large con 46k strong. I’m glad this is my local con.

Let me get deeper into the Lantis Fest situation. The problem there is really three fold. First, it had ticket tiers. Second, ticket tier folks are locked into their seating areas–this means people have to camp to get a good seat, and the worst 1/3 of the seats in the first group is worse than the best 1/3 of the seats in the second group. And third, there is poor line management. I think a lot of it arose from the selling out of the tickets so quickly. They had to rearrange the room.

The VIP tier has to pay about $160, which is like $100 more than the next tier, but they could get worse seats. To me this is really, really messed up. Yeah, they got an autographed thing, but that is not really any consolation. For what it’s worth, people more or less all camped for about the same time, due to the “no-line up until time X” policy–which is promptly voided because lineup happened before time X. It was just a matter of if you were at the exact lineup starting point or not. Most people were in that area.

This is pretty messed up. There was also a twitter thread about this from a person on wheelchairs POV. They couldn’t see much of the show because everyone stood, and it was flatlands. Obviously if they were not VIP they probably can’t go all the way up there. Maybe put them to the side? But this would not have been a problem if people could just sit wherever they wanted and you can just block off one area for late VIPs or whatever. SMH.

The bottom line is though, these problems are not exactly systemic (I can see how Lantis Fest is because, lol, Japan), at least they have easy fixes.

Another easy fix implemented mid-cycle up to the con was autograph tickets. ANYC decided to do lottery for the free at-con ones. That is good. Also they sold out of Vofan and Kugimiya tickets in seconds. That is not so good, but it is what you would reasonably expect and I am okay with this. That said, the salt sure was flowing on Sunday when I was hanging out at the line waiting for a bunch of people I know that were in it, LOL.

The lead up to the new system was great, because the con was actively communicating to people who were following them online. It showed that they were listening and had enough wits to properly tell us what is going on and had logical reasons behind the changes they made. But in case you did not know, there are still some hardcore folks who are “manual line up or die” type, besides the unavoidable amount of people who always complain (which we handwave away). I really want to just highlight this because it is really insufferable to have to deal with those lineup-longest-to-show-true-love types. This is basically the same psychological underpinning behind all the bad gatekeeping behavior.

Otherwise, I think the con is fine. Being a real home con for me has a lot of drawbacks. Like the feeling of responsibility, or not able to justify a hotel so I end up commuting a lot, or having to work on Friday. But this is more on me and not on the con. Kind of wish I could crash the front like the other folks I hang with normally, or that work would stop having fires on Friday afternoons. But such is life. If that is the price to pay to get a quality anime con in New York, it isn’t a high price to pay.

I guess that’s enough about the con. Here’s some thoughts about our wonderful guests.

TRUE/ZAQ: I club them because they appeared together for most of their events. The panel was kind of a drag, but of course ZAQ shines through here and there. It’s always great to get their reaction during autograph by showing them the Million Live stuff. I bought their high-five tickets and it eventually sold out on Saturday morning. It was a bit amusing that the staff at the signkai this time recognized the Million Live stuff unlike last year.

I told ZAQ that I love SSS and ZAQ rapped a line and I was like yoooo. TRUE was more like, congratulations, you wrote FLYERS. I guess I can move on to those Kasuga Mirai singles next.

Tanezaki Atsumi: I only had the one panel. Rest of the time, from SNS, she seemed to be just touring NYC and had a quick walk through the venue. During the Kono Oto Tomare panel she was dealing the Q&A fairly straight, and it came across well. Acchan felt personable and someone you can really root for. We even got a special video message from Shota Aoi, LOL. Maybe next year? The panel was moderated the whole time so that part was a bit bummer, but I guess this is the standard Funi format now.

Itou Miku: Mikku had two panels and her pre-masquerade mini-live. The mini-live was fine where she pranced around in Kokoro’s get up and sang 3 songs. It was really predictable and the camp was not too bad. I did a bit more than the minimum effort basically and still got fairly up front. Before the mini-live they were showing us with Bushiroad idol content again and it was pretty telling.

I missed most of the first panel, which was more a Bang Dream panel, due to poor coordination on my part, but it started late and ended early, so I had no control or foresight on those aspects. She wore a nice autumn-y piece that fits what fashion was maybe last year in NYC. Shh don’t tell anybody. On day 2, I was able to catch her fully at the Fragtime panel. It was pretty fun and I was actually interested in the anime this time around. This time I even had a good seat (I guess because I was giving up Code Geass…)

Yuki Aoi & Okubo Rumi: Really, they flew them here just for FGO. The FGO panel was your typical top kek seiyuu entertainment, so that is a treat given how rare we see it even in Japan. I think the two Aniplex folks up on stage should be given all the credit, both Albert and the interpreter lady. I mean, Rumi and Aochan were literally talking about ships and which part of which character they like. There was also this really bad kakkin plug. It was high entertainment in the worst kind of way? Rumi became Gil’s chair? Hm.

Rumi looked as you would expect but Aochan did dress more fashionably, and it felt fresh.

Kugimiya Rie: All her stuff was on Sunday, and other than the signkai I was able to attend them. I also had to help a fella out so I attended her press panel as well. Somehow, Lisle was Kugyuu’s MC and interpreter for all of it. Overall the panel was similar to what I hear that she did at Smash in July this year, where there are some general Q&A and she did a live dub segment. For NYC, she did a line from Toradora and then a few original character lines. They dodged a lot of the copyright-specific questions. I also had a lot of problem with the way they did the press panel, but that is for another post somewhere else.

The queen of tsundere felt a lot less guarded without all the stage-side makeup and she looked like just any other Japanese tourist you might find on the street in Midtown. Max frump and she was kind of at ease, almost. I guess I see her mostly from IDOLM@STER events so this is a nice contrast. The contrast between her stage look and press panel look also was pretty notable, but I think she’s just doing her job there so it’s understandable. Times like this I also appreciate Lisle’s ability to tone it down and draw out/highlight, although it was more like just trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation.

JAM Project: Old timers gonna old time. They had fun and kinda blew up the Q&A when given the chance, but overall it was what you would expect. I went to the high-five event and it was great as always, plus running into old timer JAM Pro fans.

Aside from my autograph sessions with Choi and the Dr. Stone duo, both of which I don’t have much to report on, that was pretty much it. I heard some wild stories about Tomino. One guy was on the same flight to NYC as he was. One guy heard Peter T. asking him where he wanted to go and Tomino gave a weird answer. There were the panels. There was G-Reco. It’s Tomino.

I barely heard about Code Geass, probably because FUNi panel format. I just don’t think whoever is doing those con programming is doing it the right way, given the smattering of blunders I’ve heard and seen this year. At least it seemed those Code Geass autograph tickets were not unobtainable at con, even if you had to do a preorder with FYI and pick it up at a B&M store LOL.

I did a dinner thing by booking a space. Goddamn it was a lot of effort for mild gain. I really hope the hospitality situation improves next year.

And yes, I think it’s time to do the party thing.

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