All hail AnimeNEXT! The last anime convention in the New York/Tri-state area. And one of the greatest anime conventions in the east coast. Every early June otakus from all over converge on Somerset, NJ for three days and two nights for all things anime, manga and Japanese traditional/pop culture. There is just too much to do with all the activities there. And there is also a ton of socializing to be done. From hanging out with old friends to meeting new fellow otakus. Through the different activities and events you’ll find tons of fun and comradship.
AnimeNEXT has grown significantly in the last three years in popularity and activities. All the video games and table top games have been held at the Holiday Inn across the street from the Doubletree. This year some of the panels as well as photo shoot sessions were held at the Bridgewater Hotel. Guest of the Doubletree can enjoy an exclusive 24 hour anime screening on a selected channel from their very own room. The Dealer’s Room, Artist Alley and major performances are held separately at the Garden State Exhibit Center just below the Doubletree. While screenings, panels and social gatherings are at the hotel.
This years AnimeNEXT boasted many great talents and artists. For the first time this year AnimeNEXT has pulled in some BIG name guests like voice over actors Greg Houser, Michele Knotz, Bill Rogers and Matthew Mercer just to name a few. Then there were the regular staples of AnimeNEXT such as L.A.R.P., C.R.A.Z.Y.O.T.A.K.U. and new comers Galaxxxy Rocks! Of course there were all kinds of performances and events such as cosplay photo shoots for Sailor Moon, Sword Art Online and Street fighter. Other events include “Are You A Werewolf”, rave dance parties, Bad Anime and the manga library. One of the more anticipated music guests was the J-Rock band ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D. This Shibuya based band have not only gained popularity on the convention scene but have branched out to the arts and entertainment as well like modeling. From what I heard, ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D really brought down the house Saturday night. There are just too many fun things going on at AnimeNEXT to mention!
I found my fun at some of the events I went to. Of course I had to check out the geeks specific stand-up comedian and creator of “We Are The GeeK” Uncle Yo! My favorite comedy bites by Uncle Yo are of him lampooning the Sailor Moon and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic franchises. After his set he even gave me his autograph! Try doing that at the New York Comic Con without waiting on long lines and shoving out up to $200 for a signature. Then I saw Uncle Yo again later on that weekend when he hosted the cosplay fashion show. Cosplay fashion shows are quickly becoming one of my favorite events since Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I was not only blown away by the artistry of the costumes but it introduced me to animes I never heard of. I was particularly impressed by the AMV showcase including the contest. Unlike other AMV showcases at other conventions, you can actually vote for the winner in different categories. I rounded of my weekend at AnimeNEXT by attending the concert by the lovely J-Pop/Cosplay star Haruna Luna! I was surprised to see that she has quite a large following here in the states despite this being her only visit to the U.S.A. Haruna Luna’s popularity was so great that I couldn’t even get a picture or an autographed with her because the lines were too damn long! One of the people from my group I was chaperoning refused to leave without a Haruna Luna autograph and picture. So we had no choice but to leave without him. Haruna Luna has become such a big star that I was unable to obtain an interview with her because I wasn’t pre-approved. Of course the icing on the cake for me was that I got to share the most of the experience with two close friends of mine, Jeffrey Gerage and Kong Wei Chow! Friends can enhance any great experience!
AnimeNEXT 2014 is by far the greatest AnimeNEXT! That sentiment has been echoed by many con goers who attended. For me it was the greatest AnimeNEXT since the first time I went six years ago. Hopefully AnimeNEXT is not only here to stay but will continue to get bigger and better with the passing years. This is a huge score for otakus in the northeast as we stand in the shadows of Big Apple Anime Fest and the New York Anime Festival. AnimeNext is the last refuge for otakus of the New York/Tri-State area. Where we can participate in all things anime, manga and Japanese culture with our friends! Old and new!
See AnimeNEXT Part 1: