As we head back in back into the swing of conventions and getting ready for another year of geekdom, there are some things that we wonder about the prior year’s convention and how they can improve or follow up next year. We discuss how the staff and behaviors can be improved, whether if it is overcrowded, Guests or the general public being rude during that time and so forth.
For me, it is my local convention of New York Comicon 2018. More specifically, the add-on event of Anime Fest @NYCC in collaboration with Anime Expo.
Quick history lesson. There was another Anime convention that occupied the Jacob Javits Center prior to New York Comicon and the new Anime NYC. It was called the New York Anime Festival, which was held at the end of September during 2009 and prior years. The show floor was held in the lower levels, that didn’t have too much to show, but it had the love of the anime and manga community. But given the New York Comicon would be held at the beginning of October, it wouldn’t be ideal to hold two consecutive conventions together. So in the end, Anime Festival was assimilated into NYCC. Sure anime and manga has a presence, but it was not as focused as it would be as if it were its own convention. Sharing its presence with Western Comic, Movies, and everything in between, it was a lot of competition to go against.
Fast forward to 2017, there would be a reborn for a fully fledged Anime Convention in New York again: Anime NYC. While it was rough during the inaugural year, it held great potential of what it can be, a fully recognized Anime and Manga convention. The year 2018, they improved on getting a bigger show floor, more guests, even a full concert at the Hammerstien Ballroom which was the first major Anisong concert in New York. Needless to say, it was a huge success.
It was obvious Reedpop took notice of the potential of Anime NYC 2017. To respond to the competition, they announced their own Anime and Manga centered event to co-exist with New York Comicon. In collaboration with Anime Expo, they announced Anime Festival @ New York Comicon.
Course, the consumers who attended NYAF prior or who are into Anime and Manga easily saw through this response and understood why ReedPop would add this “event”. They knew that Anime NYC held the monopoly of an Anime/Manga focused event in New York, and they wanted a piece of the pie. Even the directors at Anime NYC took notice of this and properly responded to this move.
After attending Anime Festival @ NYCC myself alongside NYCC, there was no denying the sensation and thought that it was indeed a tacked on event to attract the Anime and Manga community. You even had to buy separate tickets for the event. So if you plan to attend both New York Comicon and Anime Festival @NYCC that weekend, be prepared to pay a lot from your wallet.
This doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth your time. That’s why I wanted to write this piece. AF@NYCC has bits and pieces that is well worth noting. Course there are critiques I want to give for the sake of improvement. While consensus agreed that this event was tacked on, it doesn’t mean it cannot be a respectable anime/manga convention. It can be a convention for those who cannot attend Anime NYC or of equal standing to it.
Here are my critiques and suggestions on how it can be improved upon.
Combine Ticket Entry For Both NYCC and AF@NYCC
When it was announced that AF@NYCC would be coinciding with New York Comicon, many wonder if those who were lucky to get tickets to NYCC would also be granted entry to AF@NYCC. Unfortunately, it was ticketed as a separate event. If you want to attend both venues the total price easily goes beyond the $100 mark. Unless you are a Press, Pro, Exhibitor, or Special Guest/Speaker, general admissions will have to pay extra to get in.
Don’t do that. Make all NYCC ticket holders have entry to both events.
Many felt they were nickeled and dimed when you had to buy separate tickets for AF@NYCC. It is called Anime Fest @ New York Comicon. It was a part of Comicon. Therefore should be included in the program if one has a ticket to New York Comicon. Yes, it would be at a sacrifice to profits, but given how many people know how overcrowded it is at the main Jacob Javits building, those who want to focus on the Anime/Manga side or is curious about it, they can enter without feeling ripped off to enter another venue under the same event brand name.
Maintain General Consistency of the Bus Schedule
When announced, the planners said the event would be held on Pier 92/94, little beyond the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
This was about a 21-30 minute walk between from the main building of Jacob Javits to the Pier. When at any convention, unfortunately, time management is crucial. You have to plan whether if you are able to make a certain panel, signing, exclusive items and so forth. Consumers had to account time and distance should they wish to travel between the two venues.
Thankfully, staff announced there would be free transit between the venues in every 30 minutes. Or at least that was supposed to be the case.
The reality, however, was that the bus would be late and not meet the 30-minute time schedule it was supposed to keep. In fact, the bus would be sometimes over an hour late if you were waiting at the stops. Yes, there was weekend traffic that it would have to contend with, but the fact that walking to and fro was a better option than taking free transit speaks volumes.
Also from what I’ve heard from con-goers was that the driver for the bus was generally cold and didn’t really show any sympathy or love for customers or the conventions in general.
So my suggestion for this is to improve on the bus schedule and try to make sure the bus is not late. Perhaps even rent two buses to ensure a general flow and better transit. Sure, we experience it a lot in our everyday lives, but we do not really need it during a time of fun, panels, and when time management is crucial.
Advertise and Respect Both Venues Equally
While granted this was the first time Reedpop was adding this event to New York Comicon, there was a clear disparity in regards to how it was advertise and focused on. Perhaps is to cut costs, or that the Javits Center was prioritized because it was the main show.
Though credit must be given, as Reedpop did have some major panels and spotlight that was scheduled at the Pier. Such as the Ladies of Overwatch panel that had Sombra’s Carolina Ravassa, Pharah’s Jen Cohn, Mercy’s Lucie Pohl, and Symmetra’s Anjali Bhimani. They also had Rooster Teeth panel with Gray Haddock, Miles Luna, and Kerry Shawcross talking about RWBY and Red Vs. Blue. There are some great panels and shows that do warrant the entry to Anime Fest at the Pier. They even had the screening of the first episode of Goblin Slayer. (Yes with gruesome details and all.)
There are definitely bits and pieces here that makes it worthwhile. Improve upon it. While it may not be in the leagues of having The Walking Dead or Avengers levels of popularity or star power, it can be if Reedpop invests in the venue and have special guests that is exclusive to the Pier. I still remember they had the Japanese Voice Actress of Naruto Uzumaki, Junko Takeuchi at the Javits Center a while back. We had an icon of the original voice actress of Goku of Dragon Ball, Masako Nozawa. Everybody went nuts at Madison Square Garden when she came on the stage.
Continue to have guests like that and have them appear at Anime Fest. No doubt people will come to see them. Though first I believe the venue should be improved in regards to the basic conditions, such as flooring, walls and so forth before attempting all that.
With this kind of co-op venues, there is always that line of thinking in the fandom of East Vs. West, Comic vs Anime/Manga and which side is better. Some debate it as a fun topic, while others take it a bit personal and close to heart. Again as said in the beginning, this was a clear response to Anime NYC. While NYCC has its share of Anime and Manga focused panels and guest appearances, it already has to compete with the western market of Comics, 3rd party sponsors and Hollywood stars and movies. Giving the look that Manga and Anime is still a niche market.
I feel that is no longer the case. People are now taking notice of it. While NYCC has existed as a temporary home for manga and anime otakus and fans in New York, it is a statement to finally have a convention again solely dedicated to them. To have something solely dedicated as Anime NYC, that is what speaks to them. Dedication to the fans, for the fans.
There is always room for adding more conventions. It is good at adding venues to bring more of the masses to attend the convention. NYCC is one of the best conventions on the East coast in which many attend. For Comics and Movies, it is a great haven (or asylum) for the nerds in the area. It also has a place for Manga and Anime but is in a sea of other media that compete for the attention. Anime Fest @ NYCC adds a separate home for the for those fans, but again, many goers consider it as a reflex response to Anime NYC. However, it has the potential to be another good venue for Anime and Manga. It all depends on ReedPop and how they invest and respect it.
Can they make a venue that would even rival Anime NYC? We shall see as we head into 2019.