Live Review: Anime NYC – Javits Center, New York (17.11.17)

In November 2017, Thanksgiving was approaching, and all the anime cons have passed and left
their mark, so who thought that Anime NYC (animenyc.com), could satisfy the hunger and thirst of the community of avid Japanese pop-culture fans.

Anime NYC, (created by LeftField Media), may seem like the new kid on the block, but there is a strong history behind the key players. So much so that Crunchyroll jumped on board a proud supporter and sponsor. When you dig deeper you will find that LeftField Medi’s creator is the one and only Greg Topalia. Topalia is the 20 plus year event veteran and founder of New York Comic Con! Team LeftField Media dominates with years of experience in large-scale events. So it was no surprise that Anime NYC’s launch went without a hitch.

Upon entry of the Javits Center, you are consumed with impressive cosplayers, anime, and manga. Anime NYC started small only using half the square footage of NYCC but they came out strong. The vibes were good. The price was affordable and right. The fans could actually afford to buy a weekend pass ($60), without selling a kidney. Over 20,000 people came to celebrate this event. The energy was magical in a relaxed sort of way. You could get to everything you needed without the long treks across Javits Center. The cosplayers were out in rare form. Deadpool, Dragon Ball Z, and, of course, Sailor Moon graced the hall floors.

The event was broken up into the main exhibit hall with 3-panel rooms off to the side. The pavilion area that hosed the Artist Alley. And the main stage below that had breakout rooms for autograph signings and giveaways. The first day, Friday, started with a bang with some major highlights like the Anime Diva Night concert powered by Anisong World Matsuri, SKY-HI, (Mitsuhiro Hidaka), one of Japan’s biggest rappers, and Haikyu!! in English featuring its stars Bryson Baugus (Shoyo Hinata), Scott Gibbs (Tobio Kageyama), and Director Kyle Colby Jones. Not too shabby for a first-day launch.

Anime NYC continued to wow fans on Saturday with the screening of “Princess Principal” followed by a Q&A and the official “Sailor Moon” Panel that highlighted over 10 “Sailor Moon” English voice actors. There was even a surprise showing of a few episodes Sailor Moon S. LeSean Thomas did a Q&A to show attendees that anything is possible with hard work and talent. The Bronx native worked in the animation industries in the U.S., South Korea, and Japan. He bridged the gap in animation working on projects including the Peabody Award-winning “The Boondocks”, “The Legend of Korra,” and “Black Dynamite”. Thomas is also the creator of Crunchyroll’s “Children of Ether” and “Cannon Busters,” which will be coming to Netflix in 2018. Then on Sunday, the main stage featured Gundam Thunderbolt: Bandit Flower Premiere & Concert and later that afternoon, the Fullmetal Alchemist U.S. Premiere! Anime NYC was not for the faint of heart. And the panels were just as captivating. The panels consisted of topics like Cosplay & Disabilities, Nerds on Hip-Hop: Bridging Anime and Hip-Hop, Japanese Feminism 101 and NYC Ramen Summit. I even had time to speak to Danny Choo (son of shoe designer mogul Jimmy Choo) to discuss his fashion doll collection known as Smart Doll, after his exciting panel.

I must mention and give well-deserved credit to all the artist in The Artist Alley. For those new to the scene an “artist alley” is where local, national and even international artists set up small booths and sell their artwork, fanart, prints, books, self-made keychains, buttons and more. Located in the River Pavilion that overlooks the Hudson River the Artist Alley showed off the wares of artists from all over the world. The regular Anime NYC merch was good, but these artists were fantastic. And you could see that attendees were very excited and happy to buy these unique pieces to add to their anime and manga collections. The Artist Alley was a special place far, (but not too far), from all the noise of the main exhibit hall. But a warning to next year’s convention goers, bring money! You will fall in love with so many of these items and $100 will disappear by the time you hit the third row. Don’t get me wrong, the pieces are not super expensive, it’s just that you will want to buy everything you see. And the artists were so humble and nice, despite the language barriers of some.

LeftField Media continues to show strong Genius with its social media skills. As soon as the 2017 event ended, they began blasting their social media platforms with their 2018 line up. Within each month they posted previews of their guests to appear in Anime NYC 2018 and teamed up with other Japanese events around NYC! Brilliant! I look forward to seeing this year’s Anisong World Matsui line-up. As of July 2018, we can expect to see Luna Haruna, Shoko Nakagawa, Morning Musume’18, TRUE, Hironobu Kageyama, Hiroshi Kitadani, and Konomi Suzuki, perform a few blocks down at Hammerstein Ballroom. And at the Javits main stage the original voice of Sailor Moon’s Tuxedo Mask, Gundam’s Amuro Ray, and Dragon Ball’s Yamcha, Japanese voice actor Toru Furuya will make an appearance!

I think Anime NYC will be just as exciting this year if not better than their debut year of 2017. I hope pricing remains in the $60 range so that avid anime and manga fans can come out in full force. Hope to see you all in November!

Photos by Patricia Johnson