This past weekend, Anime and Japanese Pop Culture came back as a main focus and as its own convention as Anime NYC at the Jacob Javits Center. Since Anime Festival back in 2009, Anime conventions at the Javits were folded into New York Comicon and was presented along side Western Pop Culture, like comics and games such as The Walking Dead and Justice League. After so long, it is now separated from NYCC and to many otakus approving, it’s about dang time.
It is the first Anime convention in a long time at the Javits, so it is definitely low key compared to New York Comicon. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up for it with the heart of the community and passion. Another important element that is present that New York Comicon lacks, space to walk around and breathe! From the myriad of Japanese arcade games to the central focus of Japanese, Anime and Pop culture,this first convention lays the foundation that Otakus will have its own venue and place once again. To celebrate this, Anime NYC is also the first for New York to hold the first ever Anime Diva Night by Anisong World Matsuri.
For the uninitiated or those who do not traveled to Japan to attend a Anisong Matsuri. If you love the songs of any anime or the artists that compose and sings them, this is the event for you. Anisong Matsuri or Anime Song Festival is when famous singers and actresses, film or voice, come together to perform for the fans who love their work in all things anime. To begin this first ever Anisong in New York, we have Chihiro Yonekura, Yoko Ishida, and Miho Karasawa, or her stage name True.
Before the concert, there was a panel that allowed fans to get to know the performers and how they enjoyed their time in Anime NYC and New York in general. The Panel’s MC is done by Danny Choo, Creator of Culture Japan and creator of the Smart Doll. Questions involved with them include what food they enjoyed while in New York, awe of the numbers international fans beyond Japan, and respect for each other as artist as people. True said that since she was the youngest of the three in age and career, she aspires to be like her fellow senpais. To gain the level of respect as they have. She also said that this is her first time in New York, to which she replied that she desires to hold international concerts beyond Japan. And yes, she loves the New York cheesecake and the size portion difference compared to Japan, which the other two agreed in consensus.
Now for the main event of Friday, Anime Diva Night.
There is always a magical element when you attend a concert of any kind. It’s probably that this is the first kind ever held in New York. It was a full audience and when the three came out, it just blew up in awe and screams. Al three did their individual respective songs like Yonkura’s “Arashi no Naka de Kagayaite“ from Mobile Suit Gundam 08th MS Team, Ishida’s “Otome no Policy” (Maiden’s Policy) from Sailor Moon R, and True’s “ailes” from Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch) or “Hiryō no Kishi” from Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle.
The element that has the most impact is when two or all three singers collaborate together to do their own cover of another anime song. I confess, there were times I simply teared up in nostalgia and in happiness. One moment is when Ishida did her song of “OPEN YOUR MIND ~chiisana hane hirogete” from Ah! My Goddess. The song soft melody and gentle mood set the moment of a magical time, comfort and unity. She even did a little jig to go with the song’s theme. I still get goosebumps when I listen to the song again.
Another moment is when Ishida and Yonekura did their version of “Just Communication“ from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Any 90’s kid will get the into the mood and how important that song was even if you aren’t a Gundam fan. There were even more classic songs that the three sang such as Neon Genesis Evengelion’s opening “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” , and The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya’s “God knows…” The last song that all three sang to close off is the Sailor Stars opening of Sailor Moon “Makenai” . Given as the following day would be the official day for all things Sailor Moon. Whether you are a classic anime fan from the 90’s or a new otaku in the making, Anime Diva Night is a lover letter to all the fans throughout the generations.
Now why is this event important?
The main reason is that it tells New York and the world that there is a place for anime here. Back in Anime Festival of 2009 at the Javits Center , we had Minori Chihara perform as well. Now that Anime convention has returned, it tells other singers, actresses, bands back in Japan that “You have fans here! We want you to come over and perform!” We had Minori Chihara perform. Why not Man with a Mission? Aya Hirano? Myth and Roid? Spyair? All these bands and artists. We hear them on Youtube, Anime and games. Anime NYC is perfect for residence of the east coast and opportunity for audience to meet them who aren’t able to travel. My personal dream is for Nana Mizuki to come to New York to perform and to meet fans on the east coast. With this initial turnout for Anime NYC and Anisong Matsuri, this is a good sign and promise for more guest and artists to come.
While there are many other venues like Anime Expo and New York Comicon that can do better, Anime NYC, a rebirth convention that returns to anime, is a sign that anime is back and present in New York. No longer will it have to share a stage with titans like the Walking Dead , Star Wars or Marvel/DC Comics. Anime NYC proves that Anime and Japanese culture can stand on its own two feet. Anime Diva Night is but one of the strong reasons why to support Anime NYC in the future.
Whether it be from Anime, Music, or Japanese Culture, Anime NYC is the place to be for all that in the Big Apple.
Follow these three artist on their Twitter accounts:
Chihiro Yonekura @yonekurachihiro
Yoko Ishida @yokonti
True/ Miho Karasawa @miho_karasawa