New York Anime Festival 2007|
Writen by Ciello
Posted on December 29, 2007 at 06:27:45 pm
Click [Here] to visit the gallery of pictures for the New York Anime Festival.
After the untimely, unseemly, and unexpected death
of the Big Apple Anime Festival, I've been craving for an anime con to
return to my native city of New York. After four sad years and several
tiny college-based startups in the area, someone has finally taken it
upon themselves to try again. And that someone happens to be the same
folk who ran NewYork ComiCon. Aside from NYAF, the closest convention
that local New Yorkers have is a New Jersey con called AnimeNext. We've
reviewed it on the site here, and those reviews haven't been pretty.
Luckily, the NYAF is the exact polar opposite of AnimeNext, in
practically EVERY way.
It was held in the spacious Javits
Convention Center, and the layout of the convention was easy to
navigate. It was small, but by no means cramped! I've never seen such
wide alleys in a convention dealer's room, and the anime/panel rooms
were in a noticeably quieter area of the con. The con staff was
friendly and omnipresent, events were well organized, and the industry
panels even had a healthy smattering of good news to share! There were
a couple hiccups (see below) and a couple golden moments (also see
below) and it was, by and large, a success. For any small-size con,
that's wonderful news. For a first-year con in a city as expensive and
tough to manage as New York, that's a block-busting achievement.
The company that ran the show this weekend is called Reed
Exhibitions. They're a swell bunch of folk, or so it seems! But their
involvement in the con made for a very different atmosphere than in any
of the others reviewed on this site to date. For starters, they were
highly professional and organized. Their bright orange T-shirts could
be seen in any direction, and I spied several con staffers who were
keeping a vigil while incognito. It's good to know they were keeping an
eye on things so closely! The volunteers were really friendly, and the
few crowded periods of the weekend were handled smoothly.
the get-go, it was pretty clear that this was a corporate con: the tone
of the opening ceremonies and the kind of events on schedule were
geared less towards fans than I was used to. The fan-centric workshops
were pretty much nonexistent, and there were a lot of panels mixed in
with the anime screenings. To drive the point home: the dealer's room
probably accounted for more than 50% of the con's total floor space.
but please, don't let the con's slightly more commercial nature scare
you away! The con is still run by Otaku of varying sorts, and while
they may not be as fanatical as other con staffers, they were highly
professional. I can't stress enough how organized they were. I didn't
see a single canceled panel, and the only canceled event I was aware of
was a comedy routine by the hilarious host of our Masquerade.
There's a tad big of bad news on the staff front, and it's the harsh
security guards. This is a common complaint for all events held in the
Javits Center, and it's not even something that the Con has total
control over. They were nice enough to me, once I put on the tough act
and flashed a press badge, but I saw more than one poor con-goer
getting the verbal smackdown for what appeared to be a minor
misunderstanding. I felt bad for those poor kids. Shame on you, mr
The game room was pretty tiny. It was hosted by NewYork-Tokyo,
a nifty group of asian-cultured people who host events all over the
city. Sometimes its a free movie, sometimes it's a game night or a mini
convention of their own. Naturally, they were the perfect fit to pick
up the reins for a game room in the city con. They showed off a decent
collection of next gen titles (see the above link for details) and they
heavily promoted this DS puzzle game called Neves. Dare I say it, that
game was a heck of a lot of fun. Unlike the rest of the con, the actual
room for the game room was way too small to hold the number of people
who wanted to get in. And it was a bit of a drag that two of the three
major screens were shut down during tournaments. Next year, hopefully
it will be bigger! And perhaps contain more new puzzle games to suck
away all my free time.
Dealer's Room / Artist Alley:
the dealer's room was the crown jewel of this convention. It was
huge, and was physically (and spiritually) the center of the weekend.
The room itself was spaciously laid out, and there was plenty of space
to maneuver around and browse for swag. And boy, was there swag. I saw
all the usual wall scrolls, DVDs, costume supplies, box sets, wooden
weapons, SLOs, music, merchandise, etc that you can usually find at
cons. I also saw Chase Bank, New York University, The Daily Newspaper,
and representatives from the a branch of the Japanese government
responsible for exports. Holy Cow. I was glad to see the JETRO people
there, since it can only be good that anime exports to America are
catching the eye of the Japanese government. But the people at the bank
and newspaper booths looked positively lost! It was pretty funny.
Anyway, the dealer's room was good and I was able to find plenty of
reasonably priced stuff. So much, in fact, that I'll be chowing down on
Ramen or baked beans for the next couple weeks. Ahhh.. the joy of
One interesting twist of the dealer's room was that
the artist alley was sort of melded into the far side of the room.
There was lots of nifty talent there, and I discovered a few new comics
that I just devoured. One particular artist's work caught my eye, and
after finding out how friendly this artist was, I simply had to give it
a try. The "Templar, Arizona"
book was probably my second best purchase of the night. The first, of
course, was the latest edition of Robot. The brainchild of Renge Murata
(of Last Exile fame) has been a favorite of mine since I discovered it,
and now that Udon Entertainment (of Street Figher Manga and the Street
Fighter HD Game fame) has picked it up, I am joy :D
One of the unique things that NYAF had to its name was the prospect
of a maid cafe. In their press release video, it's plastered on the
title image along with anime and manga. At their advertising booth in
other conventions, the maid cafe was invariably mentioned. Sometimes
repeatedly. I could go on, but let's all accept that it was hyped up
quite a bit. And then when the actual con arrived, well, it was a bit
of a let down. I passed by the cafe area a bunch of times, what I saw
could best be described as a food court with a maid outfit standing at
the entrance. After an afternoon of lugging delicious swag around the
convention center, it would be a really nifty place to kick back and
relax. They even had anime playing on TVs along the wall that the
food-court-area was against. And nice big round tables. Nifty, it was.
A maid cafe, it was not.
If you know your anime culture history, you'll know that these were
the original reason and purpose behind events like NYAF. Cons have been
slowly evolving into another creature entirely, but it still makes me
glad to see a healthy showing of new shows at a convention. This
weekend not only had a good variety of titles to appeal to all (pumpkin
scissors to wallflower, Haruhi to Bleach), but several were repeated
and staggered at different times over the three days. This gave people
with conflicting schedules plenty of time to catch a show of their
interest. I also saw a mix of both dubbed showings AND of subtitles.
The dub versus sub debate is almost nonexistent among true fans, but I
gotta say, I really liked the voice dub of Mushi-Shi. It's a nifty
show, for those of you who like quieter, episodic mystery-type shows.
The screening rooms also held a premiere for CATBLUE Dynamite and the
Devil May Cry anime. The former is a 3D cell-shaded action flick that
appears to contain a mix of 70's crime fighters and catgirls. And odd
combination, but if you liked the animation for Appleseed this movie
may be very much up your alley.
All in all, the screenings were
good. If you didn't have any events to be at, or if you were out of
money for the dealer's room, you could likely find something here to
catch your interest.
Location, food, and other vitals:
New York is an impossible place to have a convention. It's
massively expensive to get a big meeting space in this city. Just
renting a 2 bedroom apt in this town is enough to buy you a full-sized
house in other states. And believe me folks, I am not exaggerating. So
while I'm not very fond of the location of this con, I also realize
that there's nowhere better in the city to hold a large gathering like
The bad side is that the con center isn't near any
subways. So you've either got to wait for a bus near New York's Penn
Station or walk about half a mile. Now a half mile isn't bad, by city
standards. I walk longer than that to pick up groceries, it's like 4
blocks. But for folk who are used to driving everywhere, this might be
a bit of a system shock. The neighborhood is not filled with food
joints, unlike many other nearby neighborhoods. There's a diner, a
couple delis, and maybe a restaurant or two. To add more icing on the
cake, the Javits Center isn't in a nice part of town. It's not bad,
for sure. But when you've got a vacant lot, a construction zone, and a
bunch of nondescript buildings between you and your con, you might get
a little wierded.
The good side is that the venue is big. Really
big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it
is. Even Douglas Adams would be impressed! But seriously, it's huge and
there was a very large and reasonably priced food court in the middle
of the building. So you didn't even have to leave to get a decent
lunch. And although the immediate neighborhood might not have very much
to offer, you're in New York! There's an excellent 24 hour subway
system that will take you to any one of a thousand delicious
destinations elsewhere in Manhattan.
Masquerade (and World Cosplay Summit):
The masquerade was held on Friday evening, and had the distinct
honor of being the final testing grounds to see which American cosplay
team would be flown over to Japan to compete in what amounts to the international cosplay olympics.
It was a good show, and did a bunch of things that made it much more
enjoyable than many of the other cosplay masquerades I've seen so far.
For starters, there was a culling process. The MC told us of some of
the acts that were removed from the list of shows, and believe me, it's
a good thing they did. The 20 skits that remained were well performed,
enjoyable, and almost completely devoid of those quiet awkward moments
when a poorly planned skit falls apart on stage.
The MC was "Uncle Yo,"
a stand-up act who tailors his wit around otaku culture. He was a funny
guy, and at some points I was enjoying his reactions to the skits as
much as I was the skits themselves. This poor guy had to stall for
nearly 45 minutes at the end of the show, while the judges deliberated
on the final prizes. He kept us all laughing and entertained the whole
The Masquerade seating area was separated from the rest
of the dealer's room by a large fabric divider. At first, I cringed
when I saw that. The very same technique was used at Anime Next, with
disastrous results. However, my fears were unjustified! The actual show
was held after the rest of the con had pretty much closed down. This
made sure the masquerade had plenty of audience to watch the show, and
it also meant that there would be no bad acoustics and background noise
to battle with during the performance. The show itself didn't allow for
any fancy video feeds or live mic setups, but they didn't have a single
technical problem during the show. The con staff even ran a full dress
rehearsal beforehand, and it showed.
Here's the rundown of what actually went down:
The MC Started with an Ode to Glomping. It was a hilarious Dr. Seuss style poem. Then it was on with the skits!
- 'It's a Small World' Skit. This one won a judges award, and
second place in the journeyman category. It was cute, a short dancing
skit that involved signs I couldn't see.
- 2-Two was missing!
- "Deathmate" This was a difficult to follow (very muddy audio)
story about breeding pets? Or something? I dunno, death was involved
- 4-Saitou Stand-up act. I'm not sure, but I'm almost positive I've
seen this guy before at another masquerade. It was a stand-up act that
was pre-recorded, and it was very not funny. His stage presence
consisted of walking back and forth on stage making one of two hand
gestures, over and over, while the audio progressed.
- "When We Know We Need Each Other"
This was the winner of the World Cosplay Summit trials. They're being
sent to Japan, and with good reason! This is a smaller section of a
large cosplay group that usually performs some kind of interpretive
dance number, and this followed their trend. It was a Magic Knight
Rayearth skit. I could describe it, but you should just check out the
video I have linked. Much like their other acts, the dancing told a
story, the music was catchy, and the dancers really looked like they
were enjoying themselves. They deserved the win, as well as the judges
choice award they also received.
- "Battle of the Pink Haired SuperStars"
This won second-place in the novice category. It was also the 'Robot
Chicken' of cosplay dancing skits. It featured two characters with pink
hair that were effectively dancing at each other in short bursts. The
girl came out first, and didn't appear very happy to be there. I don't
know if that was intentional or not, but then her partner jumped onto
stage and awesomeness ensued. See the link above, it was pretty
amusing. The guy dancer had so much energy that the people in the
audience around me were getting into it by the end. Very well done!
- "Roxas Doesn't Feel Like Dancing"
This was first place in the journeyman category, and also won a judge's
choice award. The costumes were excellent, and the red wig this girl
had was ten kinds of awesome. They picked a really appropriate song to
make Roxas dance, and their timing was spot on. Really fun to watch!
- "Bankai Ichigo vs 10th Squad Captain" The audio was a little
muddy on this one, but it was a stage-fighting skit, so audio wasn't as
important. You could tell they practiced this one. There was none of
that useless flailing that accompanies stage fighting skits. We could
even hear their props making contact. Pretty sweet.
- "Rei And Asuka"
I'm not sure if that's the title or not, but it won second place for
craftsmanship and a judge's award. Their costumes were shiny,
pleathered to the max, and looked really good. It was a choreographed
and somewhat sensual kind of dance, but the dancers didn't look like
they were having fun at all. A good show, but the frowns detract from
- "Nerima Daikon Brothers" I think I'm the only person in the
audience who got this joke. Their skit was an excellent lip-synced
rendition of the first episode of the series that goes by the same
name. It's a musical anime, and a funny (if slightly perverted) show.
The actors played their characters perfectly, but I think the reference
was lost on the judges.
- "The Keyblade War" This was a skit about Sora gaining courage.
The costumes were beautiful, though one of the actors had to resort to
power-ranger style movements to show that he was talking.
- "Slipping Through My Fingers" This was a nice castlevania skit
that was full of coordinated dancing. The movements were good, though
the singer was a little harsh at some points.
- "Roxas Feels Bad Being a Nobody" This one won first place in the
novice category, and a judge's award. It was basically an emo rant that
swings into an angry rant about how Roxas gets the shaft in his game.
It was pretty funny, and the girl playing the part definitely added to
the humor with her expressions and delivery. I wonder, why is Roxas
always cosplayed by girls?
- Fourteen is a mystery! I think they dropped out.
- "Ninjas Dancing- Believe it" this was a skit about how every time
you say 'believe it,' a ninja dies. This is another skit I'm almost
positive I've seen before, by the same folk. It ended with a bunch of
disjointed flail dancing. C'mon guys, if there's no need to dance, find
a different way to end your skit!
- "Dilemma #48" This was some kind of puppet skit that had a
pinky-and-the-brain kind of story. I can stand behind anything related
to pinky and the brain.
- "Puni Puni Parody" This won a judge's choice award. It was
Shikamaru and Tsunade from Naruto in an amusing story that was created
solely so that the skit could work in a "this is sparta!" reference. I
rolled my eyes at first, and then the guy from Sparta throws off his
cloak and puts on a sailor moon costume. Hilarity ensued!
- "The Last Love Song"
This was a very brief skit that deviated from the norm, and won a
judge's choice award. It wasn't trying to be a comedy routine or dance
number, it was just trying to show one of the more dramatic moments
from the anime, Saikano. That is an excellent anime, and it's also the
most depressing thing I've ever voluntarily watched. The actors did a
good job conveying the scene, and had a huge number of props to help.
There was even a smog machine! They get props for the effort.
- "Royal Exchange Program" I don't know, something about Midna
getting jealous on Zelda and being mistaken for a vampire by someone
else. I didn't quite understand the vampire thing, but the costumes
were really nice. Now, if they had chosen to make a vampire skit out of
the anime Gankutsuo, that would be another story entirely!
- "Keep it Simple, Keep it Uniform"
This was my other favorite skit of the night. The judges' too,
apparently, since they won first place in craftsman, Best Performance,
Best in Show, and a Judge's Choice Award. Wow. Theirs was a funny
self-referencing skit that had lip-syncing, energetic dancing, and a
dialog that kept me chuckling. Check out the link to see more. They
definitely deserved all those accolades.
came down to a very close call when it came to the final decision of
the award for the trip to the World Cosplay Summit. I honestly wasn't
sure which group the judges would choose in the end. Now, I don't
disagree with the choice for the champions. I think those girls will
represent us very well over in the land of the rising fun. But if two
teams could have been chosen to tie for 1st place, I would have sent
the last act over to the WCS 2008, as well. Both groups must have put
in a huge amount of work, and it was a pleasure to watch each of their
It's great to have a city convention back. Many of my own friends
were unable to join me at this convention, and I have to say that they
really missed out. In only its first year, NYAF has provided an
excellent show that outshines many other established events. I think
the future is bright for this one. And it's a good thing, too. I've
been waiting for these guys to show up since 2003.
York is expensive, truly! And the con center isn't as easy to get to as
we'd probably like. But hey, the place itself was nice.
saw very few people in costume over the weekend. There were a bunch
(see our gallery pictures) but casual outfits outnumbered costumes
nearly three to one.
If I could give this show more than 10 points, I would.
panels and events were good. I didn't come across any cancellations,
and everything ran smoothly. My only question, where were the fan
Con Organization: [10/10]
Reed Exhibitions was on top of things, couldn't ask much more.