By Melissa Farinelli
As Anime NYC enters into its second year of operation it's obvious they wanted to expand both their show content and vendors this time around. Everything is still relegated to the south side of the Javits Center, but there are four panel rooms this year, moved to much larger Hall 1E, along with the Autograph signing booths. This leave more room on the Expo floor for the notably larger amount of vendors and merch booths. Bandai, Aniplex, and Viz are back, along with Funimation, Kodansha, Kinokuniya and others. The Tokyo Arcade is also back, though its been moved to the far southwest corner of the floor, likely to help with crowding and to accommodate the handful of additional games available this year. Another new addition is the Anime DJ booth, located square in the center of the floor, where you'll see dance-offs and karaoke battles to beloved theme songs. Artist alley is still located in the River Pavilion with an increase of vendors as well.
The greatest improvement is the panels rooms. With twice the space, allowing for more seating, there was little difficulty walking in 5-10 minutes before the start of a panel and getting a seat inside (though that could change for the generally busier weekend days). They also have line-ups taped off in adjacent rooms to keep the crowds contained. There is a nice increase in panel selection, with more screenings and spotlights added this year as well. I sat in on the Toru Furuya Spotlight and then the Sunrise Industry Panel. Both were well moderated and kept to their time limit, and most of the industry panels again are having raffles prizes for attendees. Furuya's panel was more a walk down memory lane of his many iconic voice over roles, stemming from Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon to Gundam and One Piece. He reflected fondly on his career, teasing with famous lines and recounting anecdotes about fans he's made along the way. Sunrise highlighted their upcoming line up of blu-rays and theatrical releases, including new titles for City Hunter and Code Geass, and marking the 20th Anniversary of the iconic Cowboy Bebop series. It concluded with an in-depth look at the history of the Gundam franchise, from Mobile Suit all the way to the soon to be released Narrative. They also touched on the popularity of Gunpla (Gundam model building) and revealed plans to build a life-size, fully mobile Gundam for the series 40th' anniversary next year.
For all the good, there were still a few growing pains for this young convention. Crowd and line management around both the arcade and DJ booth were an issue and delays in opening the show floor to attendees for almost an hour after the convention was supposed to begin left social media ablaze with complaints, but once it got going most seemed forgiven. In fact, as I am writing this I received an email from the convention citing adjustments to the line up procedure to make things more organized over Saturday and Sunday. So, they are listening and trying. Overall, it's a measured improvement over last year inaugural season. Hopefully this momentum continues over the rest of the Con.
Day 1 Cosplay