Anime NYC, established in 2017, was created for the fans of anime who were craving a convention that was not New York Comic Con, a con that previously hosted both anime and comic fans. With local cons being Anime Next, the former Liberty City Anime Con, just to name a few, anime fans that were local have always sought a place where they can geek out about their favorite medium-thanks to Peter Tatara, the founder of Anime NYC and the vice president of anime at Left Field Media. Here is my review of Anime NYC’s 5th anniversary.
For those who do not know, I’m an NYC local and my local cons that are huge are New York Comic Con and Anime NYC. Prior to Anime NYC’s inception, I’ve been a frequenter of NYCC, searching for a home for myself, a home con if you will. But now I can finally say: welcome home. New York City is finally an anime city.
This year, we had Hajime Isayama, creator of Attack on Titan, come to the United States to discuss the final season of the series. We’ve also had notable voice actors such as Johnny Yong Bosch, voice actor of Ichigo Kurosaki as well as Michelle Ruff (Rukia Kuchiki), and Derek Stephen Prince (Uryu Ishida). Games such as Genshin Impact and studios such as Studio Trigger (Kill La Kill, Little Witch Academia) and Wit Studio (Spy x Family) were also featured as exhibitors at the con. Though it would have been nice to cover all of these things, the thing I was the most focused on was the culture of this con.
It just really sucked that my homies I wanted to go to the con with (or at least bump into), were not there to admire the beauty and the culture. Hopefully next year, I get to see them at least once!
Anime NYC started selling their tickets at the end of March 2022 with its steep prices of $65 per day and a three day pass being $95 for the entire weekend. That does not include tax, services fees, after parties or any special panels attendees needed to apply for. From what I’ve observed, Anime NYC’s competitors in the northeast are Otakon, Katsucon, Anime Next, and a few more.
Last year, Anime NYC was where the omicron variant of COVID-19 caused so much chaos to the point where this year, tickets were limited to about 50,000 attendees. With 2021 being the hamster project that it was for many conventions, the reduction was bound to happen. However, we had to jump through hoops and ladders just to get a ticket or two. Let’s not forget that for those who wanted to obtain a three day pass had one of the following options:
- Being first in line and roll a natural 20 and get a three day on GrowTix
- Buy single day tickets and pay a little over double of a three day ticket ($195 vs $95)
- Utilize the Lyte app, where they were also charging double the ticket price. The prices kept sky rocketing as the con was approaching.
I ended up going all three days due to circumstances presented, but I know plenty of people who did not want to go for a single day, and would rather miss out on the con. I also tried many ways to see if I can get a pass for free by the following means: applying for press, panelist, or the new influencer pass.
Speaking of the influencer pass, Anime NYC coming up with influencer passes is cool and all, but it would have been great to see more of the following:
- More local influencers. I probably saw 2 or 3 from NYC. I expect for a city like NYC to have some more influencers that exist here. NYC prides itself when it comes to locals that turn up to any event. We are the toughest crowd to please in any sports or entertainment event for a reason.
- Have dedicated spots for people to create content. Jacob Javits Center stretches for four or five streets and across two avenues. That place is big enough to have certain areas be dedicated as such. I thought we used the entire Javits Center, but it did not feel that way. People really were creating content in the Crystal Palace as if people weren’t entering and exiting. Prime example of this was where cosplay meet ups were held. Loads of content were being created there, but it was blocking egress in the event of an emergency.
- In addition to item number one: more POC, specifically Black content creators that are highlighted. There has been an influx of Black attendees every year since AnimeNYC has started. I would like to see more of us involved. Black people in the US consume the media heavily and are the influence for the pop culture in this area of pop culture. I would like to see the diversity in our audience and invite smaller creators that are Black into the scene where we can discuss the hot topics and do analytics of our favorite series and video games.
But enough ragging on about the pass and location situation, let’s talk about the cosplays I’ve done.
Cosplays and Social Events
For those who are unfamiliar with the cosplay community, cosplay is a portmanteau of the words “costume play.” I have a brief history of my journey on YouTube. Much like cosplay being a portmanteau, cosplan is “cosplay plan.” I had three cosplans over that weekend and honestly, they were not to the standards I wanted. 2022 is my tenth anniversary of me cosplaying and I wanted things to go perfectly so that I could show off the glow up between myself at age 20 and now at age 30.
I was sick three weeks prior due to my allergies and didn’t recover until about a week before show time. And even then, I was still coughing from my lung irritation. So the cosplays I was supposed to show up with felt half assed to me. The only one that I felt was salvaged was my first one: Yor Forger from Spy x Family.
Yor Forger, Spy x Family
Yor was supposed to be my hard hitter. I was crocheting a sweater dress that I was almost done with. Even worked on it hours before I left for the con. Thankfully, I had a backup dress in case I couldn’t complete the task (thank you foresight me). But, a thing I was proud of this weekend was that I wore a lace front wig for the first time. It was also my first time wearing nail extensions. They were a bit longer than what I am comfortable with, but the nails were nailing. I had a work event the night before the con and I had to show up and show out for both events.
The positive side of the Yor cosplay was the amount of compliments I got in addition to how I felt about my makeup that day. It felt really great to hear that people liked my looks. Yor will make a reappearance real soon at the next con on my list: Katsucon. This time around, I will have the completed sweater dress I was crocheting.
Kento Nanami, Jujutsu Kaisen
On day two, I was supposed to be Yumichika Ayasegawa from Bleach, 11th Squad’s 5th seat in the Gotei 13. Due to the weather reaching sub freezing levels in the wind chill department, I switched to Kento Nanami from Jujutsu Kaisen. Now this isn’t my first time wearing my Nanami cosplay; I’ve done so for premier night for the Jujutsu Kaisen 0 movie as well as for NYCC. I love this cosplay so much because it’s very comfortable and easy to put on and take off. Nanami has now become a part of a series of cosplays I like to call “If you cant get a husband, you become one” series, with my first one being Diluc Ragnvindr from Genshin Impact.
The sad part is, like Nanami, I was working overtime, past my eight hour shift. I still had to attend a conference earlier that morning, which caused me to get to Javits at almost 3:45 p.m. The worst part about it? I didn’t have time to put on makeup. I only had time to throw on the clothes I put out even with the suspenders I forgot to place. Despite things not going my way, I was stopped left and right to take pictures. I even got a pic with one of my favorite cosplayers, Dime Hates You- she was cosplaying as Suguru Geto. I was glad to put the cosplay on that day, things were working out left and right even with my high expectations.
Later that night, I partied with LAN Party, a podcast that’s local to here that showcases a lot of things in media and host really fun parties. I’m not really a party person, but compared to last year, I had even more fun because my anxiety was not kicking my ass so hard. It was already enough that the weeks prior were stressful for me socially. Just letting you know, if you saw me that weekend and I looked like a deer in the headlights, it was due to anxiety.
Yumichika Ayasegawa, Bleach
On the final day of Anime NYC, I didn’t leave for the con until 2:00 p.m. I was way too tired from partying the night before and once again, I did not wear makeup. I really was not feeling it on Sunday. After so much socialization due to work and now a convention, burnout was setting in heavily.
The highlight of the day was attending the Bleach panel, which was one of the many limited lottery panels that took place on the Main Stage. It was thanks to my friend @coserkaze I was able to go. In attendance were Michelle Ruff and Derek Stephen Prince. Johnny Yong Bosch was only in attendance on Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately, on Sunday, he had to leave early. I am assuming it was due to the passing of his colleague from his days in Power Rangers, Jason David Frank earlier that day. We could not record this panel at the request of the convention as well as by Viz Media. The panel itself consisted of different activities given to Michelle and 6 as spelling characters’ names, announcements of figures and DVDs, as well as adaptations of light novels.
There was also a premiere of Bleach Thousand Year Blood War dubbed. We watched episode three, where we learn more about the Quincies. I don’t want to spoil too much for people who are waiting for the entirety of the series to finish to watch. But what I do have to say is that watching the TYBW dub brought in a huge wave of nostalgia. I along with other Bleach fans have waited ten years since the end of the anime and six years since the end of the manga. Bleach is one of my favorite anime and to see if being aired on Hulu as well as attending the panel has rekindled my love for the series.
At the end of the con, in New York City fashion, the attendees yelled “yerrr” throughout the Jacob Javits Center. It is a tradition since its birth in 2017 and not wanting to partake or even calling it annoying is not only sacrilege, but also insulting to the sanctity that is NYC culture. You can’t just come to NYC and not partake in aspects of our culture that makes us who we are and call it annoying. Just don’t attend if you feel as though it’s not for you.
I left the con with a few people I met to head over to a ramen spot called Kame on 8th avenue near Fashion Institute of Technology. The ramen was good and so were the buns and drink that I ordered. I will definitely go there again on my own to fully enjoy the food.
Panels and Other Events
This year, I did not attend as many panels as I would have wanted to, but two of the three that I did go to were hosted by my friends. They were as follows:
- Kinks & Coils: Ethnic Hair in the Cosplay Community
- Creating Safe Spaces for Black/POC Women
- City Popular: A Perspective of the Rise of City Pop
Kinks & Coils: Ethnic Hair in the Cosplay Community
Kinks & Coils was facilitated by cosplayers VantaCreates and ThouArtAnuli on Friday, November 18th, 2022. I attended with my best friends since high school. I wanted to show one of them that there is a space for Black femmes in the community. This time around, it is perfectly okay to be a Black femme and enjoy fandoms. If there is any kind of retaliation or backlash that one faces, there will be others that are there to defend with class. She thanked me for showing her that there is a space for us and will continue to open up to anime as a medium again.
When it comes to cosplaying, accuracy is always a factor when planning out the costume, makeup, and hair. But with accuracy comes unwanted critiques and extreme scrutiny. Black cosplayers have trouble within this niche community due to many factors that fall under one massive umbrella: racism.
We are told many things: “you’re the Black version of x character,” or “you shouldn’t cosplay x character because they aren’t Black,” and even get attacked by non-Black consumers and get critiqued heavier. To think that even in fandom spaces we have to work two to ten times harder just to get noticed and once you are, there are loads of negative connotations associated.
It is also already enough that Black people are criticized for having our hair in its natural state. Laws such as the Crown Act are being worked on to protect us from discrimination in the workplace and at school. But seeking ways to lay our hair to make it presentable and have our own flair by adding Black hair styles such as locs, afros, and braids of all kinds are all unheard of to non-Black people. Kinks & Curls challenges all traditions as well as provides a safe and brave space to learn techniques and exchange material and brand recommendations.
I’ve attended this panel since 2019, where this year was my third time. This time around, the focus was on Black mascs taking care of their hair and beards for their cosplays. People featured were AnimexSundays, Wendell Cosplays, and Hippy Potter.
Creating Safe Spaces for Black/POC Women was facilitated by my friend ChattyPatty and her podcast, The Black Ramen Podcast (which I was previously on to discuss what it was like being an anime fan and Haitian). I arrived there late. However, there was a chock full of questions people asked. The one that stuck out the most was from a non-Black person asking about how to better support Black and POC women in the anime community. Patty stated that she would want to have accomplices as opposed to allies.
A few takebacks were obtaining an excellent barber or hairstylist, using colored hair wax, various product recommendations for beard care, and even discussion about sizeism that may occur due to social media audiences expecting a cosplayer to look exactly like the anime, video game, or comic book character. AnimexSundays expressed during his time cosplaying as Escanor from Seven Deadly Sins and Asta from Black Clover that he was told that he was “too small” build wise to cosplay as any of these characters. This is a reminder to everyone, cosplayer or not. Anyone can cosplay no matter the size, shape, creed, race, gender, or sexuality. It is time to unlearn any and every previous notions about how accurate a person should look when in costume. With that being said, I hope to see more Black masc cosplayers be more free with their hair as well as their looks in years to come.
Creating Safe Spaces for Black/POC Women
White people as well as non-Black POC are known to participate in bystanderism whenever an injustice is done to Black and other POC. It is very prevalent in digital spaces as well and it does not help that we are discussing it in fandom spaces. We would like more active camaraderie as opposed to passive and performative. As we begin 2023 and onwards, I would like for solidarity to have purpose and not feel empty.
In addition to solidarity race and ethnicity wise, I would like for solidarity to occur when it comes to our neurodivergent siblings of life. There were a few people in the panel that disclosed that they have a disability of some sort and would like to have a space to vibe about their favorite series free of judgment. Having a seat at the table isn’t just about who can speak the loudest, it is about who is at the table and how they are being accommodated for.
City Popular: A Perspective of the Rise of City Pop
City Popular was facilitated by Mista-B of Love Talkin’ where we listened to city pop and future funk. The city pop panel was also great to attend because I got to listen to artists that I was familiar with and was introduced to new ones. Names such as Mariya Takeuchi, Tatsuro Yamashita, an Miki Matsubara were a few of the names I’m familiar with. If you’ve ever listened to Stay with Me (Mayonaka no Door). The song “Out of Time” by the Weeknd was sampled from “Midnight Pretenders” by Tomoko Aran.
I also discovered a new way to support artists and DJs by going to their Twitch, where they will livestream their content or going to various stores that provide vinyl records of the listed artists.
Lobby Party with Anime Night Club 3
One last attraction I would like to discuss is when Anime Night Club, a pair of brothers who are DJs, hosted an impromptu party in the lobby next to the show floor. This reminded me of how much I love Black people, specifically Black people who love anime. We add a lot of je ne sais quoi. There’s so much flavor we add to the media we consume, and no other community can do it like us.
There were plenty of stories on Instagram and TikTok videos I saw, and I even recorded my own of people dancing and vibing out to the music. There were remixes of anime openings and original soundtracks from One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach. There was even a Dora the Explorer remix. People were getting sturdy, and at one point, there was a multilayered swag surf that was made. I really hope that they will come next year so that I can grab more footage or even interview them.
Though there were many growing pains with the con this year, I enjoyed myself. I will make it my mission to attend AnimeNYC every year and document new things I’ve seen over the years. One of the things I definitely want to touch on next year is the rise in Black attendees and the impeccable fusion of anime and Black culture. I also want to know what draws people to certain series and why they cosplay a certain character.
Thank you all so much for reading through my thoughts about AnimeNYC in this blog post. Going to conventions is my passion, and I am stoked to share my experience with you all. I look forward to writing more throughout this year! You can find me on Twitter, YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, and TikTok using LinkTree.
This post was edited on January 9, 2023 to correct the City Popular section. The organizer of the panel was Mista-B from Love Talkin’. Thank you for the correction.