New York Comic Con/Anime Fest, Part 1: Impressions
By Charles On 24 Oct, 2010 At 01:10 AM | Categorized As Featured | With 0 Comments

No GravatarLet me preface this review by saying I have certain…reservations when dealing with large conventions. As someone who prefers smaller, more intimate settings offered by local conventions, I often find my time spent at large, trade fair type conventions feeling more like work or struggling through a mob than an enjoyable experience with fellow fans. I have criticized Otakon for this before, made allusions to it regarding the often hectic halls of Anime Boston, and lamented over the massive lines that I sometimes encounter.

New York Comic Con embodies all those experiences, and amplifies them.

I have never been to NYCC before. I have experienced New York Anime Fest several times, and found it be be enjoyable despite lacking the feel of the other cons I attend. I was told that this year was going to be different, since Comic Con and NYAF were in the same space, sharing fans, sharing commerce, sharing panels and workshops, screening, concerts and all the other assorted aspects of the convention lifestyle. I came into this experience wondering how this would play out, how the fans would interact with each other and how the general experience would differ from previous years.

Let me begin by saying, this was not so much an experiment in unity as it was a chance to avoid holding 2 separate events at different times, thereby saving money. Several bloggers saw their tweet feeds, mine included, mirror the idea that the Anime Fest section of the convention was included almost as an afterthought. There was little, if any, real publicity regarding the presence of Anime Fest aside from a spot on the badge and a sign directing attendees to the anime panel rooms and artist alley. The giant expo floor, one of the most noticeable aspects of Comic Con, was fully integrated, and fully packed. By contrast, the “Anime Fest” section was tucked off in the corner, full but not overwhelmingly so, and feeling somewhat ignored in relation to the rest of the convention. Attendees there for the anime festivities noticed this outright, some complained, others shrugged.

Now compare this with the bustling, extremely clogged halls of Comic Con, and it seems a bit out of place. Traveling down the aisles was a feat in itself, as they were jam packed with attendees browsing wares or looking for new releases from their favorite companies. It took a full hour to navigate just a part of the massive con floor, without having the chance to really take anything in. The SquareEnix booth dominated the center of the entry hall, with very interesting “exhibits” showcasing a lot of their game and anime related wares. But before one could even locate that booth, they had to navigate past a giant display of a dancing game prominently featuring the late Michael Jackson. Indeed, the first half of the con floor was dedicated so prominently to exhibits and debuts of new titles, that it often was more a chore to navigate it than the rest of the show.

I suppose personal enjoyment of NYCC 2010 came down to how much tolerance the particular attendee had for lines and crowds. Since mine is extremely low, I found myself more often wandering the floor, taking pictures and grabbing swag than even attempting to tackle the lines that snaked everywhere. To give a good indicator of what I mean: the line to get copies of “Amory Wars” signed by author/musician Claudio Sanchez stretched from the Evil Ink table all the way to the far end of the expo floor. And he was a guest of the publisher, not the con. I never saw the line for Stan Lee, but I later heard people arrived at 4AM just to get into his panel, which had filled up by 6. Everything else sort of fell in between, but hour-long waits and quickly filled rooms were the order of the weekend.

Next Up, Features and Stories from the Expo Floor. Capcom, Sega and Square all had things to announce and sample, and it portents an interesting bunch of games for the coming year.

About - Charles has written for ROG since 2010. An anthropologist and culture lecturer, he has previously been a featured panelist at Anime Boston and Otakon, the first educational guest at Anime USA, and frequently speaks at cons up and down the East Coast. He received his MA in cultural anthropology in 2011, and currently writes on convention culture, sacred culture in media, otaku identity and mythology.

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