Anime NYC came and went. This is the closest hometown con to me even though I live like, 20+ miles away and it takes over an hour for me to get there on any given day. It’s closest because I work about 20 minutes away by foot, so I was able to duck out of work and go to the con on Friday, and manage to go home Saturday to spend time with family who was visiting, and still come back to the con late in the day. It’s definitely a different perspective for me, to judge Anime NYC as a personal experience versus other cons I visit. Even with AnimeNext in AC, it’s a little too far to be “convenient.”
As a con, it’s basically the resurrection or reincarnation of New York Anime Fest. The venue is the same, and that alone will draw all the comparisons. The con runners overlap a lot, but what else are you going to do running a big con in the same geographic area? The pricing and VIP perks and all that stuff overlaps, for more or less the same aforementioned reasons. What’s interesting is that a non-trivial number of people I talked to this weekend didn’t even know or went to NYAF, so this is kind of a constant reminder of how young the con eventer scene is in North America.
The con can be broken into a few tracks. Princess Principal, Gundam Thunderbolt, Sailor Moon, Anisong Divas, and Overwatch. There’s also the usual industry and panel stuff. There was a special screening of the FMA live action movie with even special intro videos. Other than the anisong stuff I didn’t really care much, although on the merits alone, the Gundam Thunderbolt show was definitely top notch. The anime was great (I’m up to date on it), and the live performances is very much reminiscent of what Cowboy Bebop was. The musicians (pianist and drummer) are the star here, and the composer merely play along on the sax. The two singers are great too. The kawaii song is, well, kawaii.
Well, obviously I’m here for the Anisong diva night show. It’s brought to you by the team that produced the two Anisong Matsuri events in the States, and the one in Shanghai. It’s good! I got some songs I always wanted to hear live checked off, namely everything Chihi sang. Yonekura is very veteran, as it goes. Ishida Yoko I had the good fortune to see several times over the course of her career so her part was less novel but nonetheless very enjoyable–finally, Strike Witches opening… True obviously is the centerpiece here I think, partly because she is someone who is still on the upward trajectory and still very new given everything. It’s a little obvious that they were pushing True. I saw her for the third time this year, so I have some familiarity at this point. I like how each artist saved their best for last and it gave the show a kind of climax rather than just ups and downs from one artist to the next. Collab-wise, Cruel Angel Thesis and God Knows are kind of just OK, but Just Communication between the two Gundam anisong singers was good.
I was able to sneak into the Q&A panel just earlier in the day before the live, as I had to ditch work early. Hosted by Danny Choo, it was kind of interesting, I guess, although most of it was just Choo asking kind of basic questions that are common to these kinds of panels. I liked that they sort of winged it and on a certain level it feels like True is on par with the two veterans. It’s kind of reassuring to know, and I’m sure True is kind of playing it safe here too. Well, I have formed kind of an opinion on her at this point, and you can ask me in person if interested.
What else at this con? I guess I can talk about some con-stuff while describing how the autograph sessions went. All the “free” sessions are ticketed, which require you to either line up early to pick up from the autograph giveout that starts at 8am the day of, or via the Premiere/VIP badge perk, which gives you 4 tickets outright (4 different ones). The Gundam Thunderbolt sessions required purchasing a CD I believe, or unless you also have the concert VIP package. (By the way I gave Chihi and Ishida their old CDs which was very “natsukashii” and all. I had True sign my Shinso ongaku ensokai 4 towel.)
The confusion on VIP badge value (priced at $275 + fees) was that the perks, which included front seats and other benefits (like a special lanyard and a messenger bag (which seemed to be well-regarded)), overlapped with the concert-only VIP packages, which also gave additional perks (high-five kai for Diva Night and autograph session + CD for Gundam Thunderbolt). I don’t think I picked the wrong choice by going pleb, since the outlay is at least $100 less than the VIP set, and I got the high-touch kai benefit (VIPs don’t get this perk…but some I know did because there were some confusion and staff did not enforce well). I ended up camping for autograph tickets on Saturday, which kind of did suck, but it was not a bad camp. Like, I only had to wake up at 4:30am, so it was easy mode relatively as temperature remained above freezing.
I might get the VIP badge next year if there are enough good guests to cause some camping conflicts, I guess. As is, everything else at the con seems to run smoothly enough and the size of the con is manageable, so one can probably live without.
Loot-wise, I gave up and bought a LP of the Thunderbolt OST and got that signed by the dude. It was a token thing but in retrospect I was glad that I did, since their show was off the hook. I also got a sign from the Princess Principal director since that anime is pretty okay and the guy has done a bunch of other things.
I wasn’t able to do a lot of hanging around unless you were at the autograph line on Saturday early afternoon or morning, since I had work Friday and familial obligations Saturday and Sunday. It was kind of rough not seeing everyone I wanted to say hello to, so apologies! Also I wasn’t feeling so good Friday and most of Saturday so I had to take it easy in terms of eating, which limited my social options. Oh well.
Overall, despite being a first year con, Anime NYC is basically the second coming of NYAF. It’s got some rough edges as expected of a first year con but I think stuff will smooth out quickly. I’d go again if the guests are right.
Let’s end with some tweets.
You can see Yaz in these, she’s one of the key organizers for con anisong events! If you see her not busy at a con you can say hello I guess.