I have reached a point where I simply can’t refer to New York Anime Festival as just that, when it has become merged into the melting pot of New York Comic Con. Observing from this year and last year’s, the state of New York Anime Festival has been pretty depressing. The Javits may have expanded, but pretty much eeked out the present of the festival as being a smaller event, which was no less small. This year, the only time you saw the familiar logos of the Anime Festival was the banner announcing the location of the event.
Everything else screamed New York Comic Con…..Come one come all. Comic Con has definitely grabbed the spotlight from the Anime Festival, because even the Japanese guests were merged into the umbrella of Comic Con, from the location of professional companies on Comic Con’s show floor, to how the autograph tickets were presented and where the location of invited Japanese guest panels were held. Contemplating on the future of Anime festival is not as positive. Anime fans though made do with this new reality.
In my opinion, the only great thing about New York Anime Festival on the fourth floor was its Artist Alley with its anime artists, and various relevant regional conventions like Manga Next. Becoming bottle necked into the traffic was not so great, and if you get past the crowds into the area where the Anime Stage was located then you can breath. I heard comparisons of this year’s NYAF being like a Cafeteria and perhaps that was true. Round tables spread out in a convention and you’re only going to want to hang out with your own groups. But with the lure of the NYCC convention floor, is there any other reason why you would stay there for long? Of course I only was able to attend one panel on Friday. Then on Sunday I was up there for a little bit, taking pictures of the artist alley, which I placed into Flickr.
Anime Stage was not necessarily the place to sit and enjoy panels as other parts of the Javits. Over the dim of the noise, you had to drag your chairs over to hear the speaker. Programming was pretty dismal, with the maids performing every other hour. I know some friends wrote off the show for good. Since programming was quite bland, it really left no other activity for people to do, other than converge onto the Comic Con show floor below. Can I also point out, that Anime Artist Alley overlooks the show floor, so you can get great shots of the show floor. There are really two feelings that can be felt when you were at those windows… one: outsiders looking in and two: goldfishes in a tank.
Anime fans are not necessarily all round comic book fans and vice versa. To really enjoy Comic Con and stay sane is to be a comic book fan as well as be a gamer. It does seem to be the natural flow of things in an American culture landscape sans regular travel to Japan. Solely enjoying anime on the soils of East United States only seems to be celebrated in other regional conventions outside of New York City like Anime Next or Anime Boston. Next year if Anime Festival does not get axed or pushed into yet another smaller corner, it is better to Comic Con to hold Anime Festival at the new “hanger” like area that this year’s Comic Con featured the autographs and Kids Area. The space is perhaps wide enough to say that yes, Anime Festival still has a presence at Comic Con.