On NYCC 2011
Okay. So. Let’s talk about New York Comic Con 2011. There’s a lot to say, and I’m not exactly sure where to start with this, so please bear with me. Though, this needs to be said first. I am not officially a part of Reed Expo and I do not officially work for Peter Tatara (the director of programming), or at New York Comic Con / New York Anime Festival. However, I do work with Peter, outside of NYCC/NYAF, for NYCC/NYAF and other projects at many other events. So, while I have helped promote this year’s NYCC/NYAF at Sakura Matsuri and Otakon, I had nothing to do with the actual production of this year’s convention. So, as much as possible, I’m viewing this convention as an attendee who has some idea of the inner workings.
I really enjoyed this year’s NYCC, and I’ll go into the specifics, and talk about several observations, below the jump. While completely crowded and packed, I thought NY Comic Con made better use of The Javits Center than it ever had before, and I was QUITE impressed by the sheer enormity of the show floor, even though this was my fifth New York Comic Con. There were certainly a lot of interesting guests, and many interesting panels, to check out, and, again, even though the convention was VERY crowded, there were always places to chill out and catch a breath when necessary. NOT TO MENTION THE AVENGERS PANEL, which was, by far, the biggest thing NYCC has gotten to ever do. The con ran fairly smoothly, with no major delays and minimal disappointments. All and all, as an anime and comic book fan, I found NYCC to be quite the enjoyable experience this year, and probably the best NYCC experience since 2008.
This year was the first that NYCC opened Thursday afternoon to the public. This was a great decision, for a number of reasons. Granted, they only opened the show floor for a few hours, and they didn’t have any panels for the public. First, I’m always happy to have another day of a convention, no matter what. Second, only opening the show floor seems lame, but it was SO nice getting to go through the gigantic show floor without it being obscenely crowded. Carrying heavy bags full of manga sucks, but carrying them through a sea of people sucks infinitely more. Third, a move like this expands the convention, and gives it even more of a presence. For Four days, nerds and cosplayers were EVERYWHERE. It leaves a lasting impression and gives the nerd community more legitimacy and a stronger presence. Sure, it would have been nice to have had some panels to go to on Thursday, and to have had the show floor be open for more than 3 hours, but I was happy. This night also marked the beginning of my accepting of adventure time.
I must say an Anime fan, I was pleased, though I’ll get to the NYAF portion of this post in a bit. Like at all the previous NYCCs, most of the big names in the Anime and Manga industry were present, and, thankfully, they all had booths as well. Even Viz had a booth, which they have not had anywhere except SDCC since 2007 or 2008. While they still hold a yearly panel, Viz won’t even set up shop at Anime Expo anymore, so NYCC getting them to set up a booth was fantastic. The guests were nice picks in my opinion too. Sure, Makoto Shinkai was at Otakon, but barely anyone had gone to his Q&A there. Here, it was a packed room. Junko Takeuchi was very well received, and, for me, Hiro Mashima was the big name. I started reading Rave Master in 2004, when I was twelve. Now, I’ve started to read fairy tail. This man’s Manga has been present in my life for more than 7 years, and having him come to NYCC was really great. There were also some great licenses on Yen and Vertical’s behalf, and they had great panels. Yen’s initiative, with their “simulpublish” of Soul Eater Not is a great landmark for Manga in the US. As for Vertical, they’ve been publishing a lot of awesome stuff and have really solidified itself as my favorite manga publisher right now (ALL OF THAT GTO MAN, ALL OF THAT GTO). Both of these great New York based Manga companies have been doing great things, and having them here this year, really representing Manga after Tokyopop has fallen (lol), was encouraging.
I guess I should talk about the one complaint I did have with this year’s NYCC. Forthe first time since I’ve started going to industry panels, I missed the Funimation panel, the Viz panel, and the Bandai panel. I was pretty bummed about this, though missing the Viz and Bandai panels were my fault. However, I missed the Funimation panel because the room had filled up. There were many complaints from people not being able to attend panels they had wanted to. Which happens, and in many cases, people need to get in line earlier or be more on top of where they have to be, but this year the amount of complaints was abnormal, and this was due to two reasons. First, was that NYCC decided not to empty out rooms between panels this year, which resulted in many people waiting for hours to see something, only not being able to because no one left the room beforehand. So, in some cases, to see a panel that wasn’t even one of the main attractions, one would have had to be in the room for several hours beforehand, sitting through other panels they wouldn’t have wanted to be in, taking up space that maybe someone who had wanted to go to the previous panel could’ve took up instead. My second complaint about the panel inaccessibility is that some panels were in rooms that were far too small. Funimation should’ve been in a much bigger room as should have the screenings, and the CBLDF Defending Manga panel should have been in a smaller room, for instance. However, for me personally, these occurrences happened few and far between, and I generally enjoyed the panel offerings (though, admittedly, they were slightly slim due to a slight lack of fan paneling in the anime department) NYCC had to offer.
And that’s it for this post…
UGH. Fine. Okay. New York Anime Festival. I guess I need to talk about this too. I need to start off by saying this. NYAF was my favorite convention. New York Anime Festival 2007 and 2008 both changed my life, and without these two conventions, I doubt I’d be friends with who I am today, nor would I be where I am with my life today. So, needless to say, NYAF has been very special to me, and just like everyone else, I miss having the full New York Anime Festival. I miss it a lot. That being said, we don’t have two separate shows for the time being, and I know why we don’t. It makes sense in some aspects, but it does suck for us Anime fans. Last year, we were teased with the promise of “two shows” which…. well, we know what happened there. This year, we had “NYAF at NYCC”, which is a more accurate representation of what we were expected to get. I’m not going to compare what we have now to the full shows in the past, because that’s useless. However, I’ll say this. Last year, the NYAF section was backed into a basement area, which lead to many complaints. This year, NYAF did get a much bigger and nicer area. The artist alley, while crowded, was open, and behind that was a gigantic area for the anime kids to either relax or go wild in. The really big space surrounded by glass was refreshing, in my opinion. While I didn’t get to see them perform this year, the maid stage was big and they themselves seemed to be putting on a good of a show as ever, and the fact that the stage got to host a slew of other events as well was a great idea. What mostly made me happy was seeing many anime kids using the place as A place to hangout, and go crazy. I remember saturday night, there was a chain of 15 people all with free hugs signs trying to get any and everyone to hug them. As slightly annoying as that could be, it was pleasing to know we anime kids could do what we do best, which is to cause a ruckus. SO, while I do hope that we’ll get our own convention again, I was happy with what we got. An area to call our own. One thing though, It would be nice to see more industry integration with it next year.
All in all, I was pleased with NYCC 2011. Though, I must very consciously say it *was* NYCC 2011, and not NYCC/NYAF 2011. This is okay for now though, I suppose, as we did get a good show and there was enough Anime content to keep me interested. There will be always those who will complain, or won’t give things that are just slightly out of their comfort zone a chance, and to those of you that are saying the con sucked this year, which thankfully isn’t many of you seeing as the common sentiment of NYCC 2011 is that “it’s better than last year’s”, I say BE GONE WITH YE. Someone will gladly purchase your ticket AND have a good time.