Anime NYC 2022
The biggest anime convention on the East Coast
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Ah, New York City. It’s one of the most famous cities in the world. It also happens to have one of the largest anime conventions in North America. At just five years old, that’s quite an accomplishment. We always hear how expensive it is to live in big cities like New York City, and I imagine it must be equally as expensive to rent the Javits Center. Home to Anime NYC, this massive convention center sits on some prime riverside real estate. It takes a lot of courage to start an anime convention in one of the most expensive cities in the US. It’s a huge financial risk and there’s no guarantee that anyone will show up. If things go wrong you could find yourself in massive debt. If things go well, or well enough, you stand a good chance of becoming one of the largest anime conventions in the USA. You can also make a buck or two along the way.
On paper the math is solid. Anime NYC has the benefit of having a massive audience right at its doorstep. New York City is the largest city in the US and New York State is the third largest anime market after Texas and California. Those numbers provide an immediate potential for growth. In just five years this convention has gone from an idea on paper to one of the top ten most attended anime conventions. Showrunner LeftField Media is no stranger the fan convention industry. With such events as Rose City Comic Con, Anime Frontier, and Awesome Con, they have a proven track record of running successful conventions.
Anime NYC 2021 was infamous for having massive queues and delays getting into the building. People waited for hours outside in very cold November temperatures and they complained about it on social media. Anime NYC essentially crammed everyone through two doors while doling out COVID wristbands at the same time. That process was painfully slow and led to lax examination of vaccination cards. It was poor planning on the part of LeftField Media and it gave them a public relations black eye. It didn’t seem to keep people from coming back for 2022, however. Attendees returned this year in even larger numbers. Thankfully, LeftField seemed to have figured out how doors work because people quickly made their way inside. They also shifted COVID wristbands to an off-site location for more efficient processing. Although masks were required and LeftField promised that they would enforce the policy, this attendee saw roughly 50% compliance throughout the weekend.
The Javits Center
The Javits Center features an impressive glass atrium rightfully called the Crystal Palace. It’s the focal point of the venue where everyone gathers before breaking off into the vendor hall and panel rooms. You might think the glass stucture would be about as insulated as a sieve, but the temperature inside was quite cozy. One of my pet peeves about large convention centers is the always ice-cube cold air conditioning. That wasn’t the case at the Javits Center.
The vendor halls run the length of the venue. It's so large that this convention of roughly 40,000 fans didn’t even use half of the space. There's a lower level which was mostly vacant and another portion of the building called Javits North that was closed off. There’s plenty of room for growth. While I didn’t spend much time in the vendor hall, it was obvious that this convention largely centers around the vendor hall and artists alley. The show floor was crowded throughout the weekend and it felt a lot like Anime Expo or San Diego Comic-Con. The ratio of scheduled panels vs attendees is much lower than at a convention like Katsucon or Sakura-Con. Events ended around 10 PM on Friday and Saturday and no later than 4PM on Sunday. There was a visible exodus of people when the vendor hall closed and I heard they were shuffling people out on Sunday. While that’s not uncommon for this type of convention, it means there’s a distinct lack of a nightlife like DragonCon and Katsucon have.
There were a number of large displays from notable anime companies such as Bandai Namco, pixiv, and Viz. While not as impressive as the booths at Anime Expo, there’s clearly an industry presence and it will continue to grow in the coming years. There’s no reason why this convention couldn’t become the number two anime convention, in size at least, right behind Anime Expo.
Cosplay is of course a big part of any anime convention. There were so many amazing cosplayers at Anime NYC and I was only able to catch a small number of them. The popular series this year seemed to be Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, Seven Deadly Sins, Jujustu Kaisen, and One Piece. Taking photos and video in the convention center is a little challenging because the light streams through the glass atrium. It can be both too bright and too dark at the same time. It can also be a benefit if, like me, you love lens flare. I took advantage of it a number of times by pointing my camera right into the sunlight. Thanks to everyone I met and shot with. I hope to see you again soon!