With a population of more than eight million, New York City could rightfully be seen as a country unto itself. The massive metropolis is an epicenter for countless cultural elements, from food, to art, to music and business.
The glitz and glamour of Broadway are permanently stitched into the cultural tapestry of America, while the frantic pace of Wall Street serves as a prognosis on the health of America’s economy. Locales like Central Park, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Plaza have similarly become landmarks, beacons that draw millions to the city every year.
For the nerdiest of us, New York Comic Con has become a veritable mecca for all things geeky. The event attracts more than 180,000 fans from across the country, all of whom find a place to let their geek flag fly at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Gamers have carved their own special niches in the city, with Nintendo World New York setting up shop in Times Square, and countless arcades and barcades taking root throughout the boroughs.
With this in mind, it seems odd that anime fans have never really had a place to call “home” in the Big Apple.
Okay, I’m exaggerating, here.
In 2001, Central Park Media helped to launch the Big Apple Anime Fest at the Directors Guild of America Theater. After three years, though, the event fizzled, with no plans to continue after 2004.
In 2007, the New York Anime Festival took the Javits Center by storm. This event, founded by Reed Exhibitions, had a successful run from 2007 through 2009, before ultimately being absorbed by Reed’s own New York Comic Con in 2010.
Today, though, LeftField Media is ready to give New York’s anime fans a place to call their own. In September 2016, the company announced that they would host Anime NYC in 2017. At first blush, the credentials were impressive. LeftField was known for their work in running events like Awesome Con (Washington, D.C.), Play Fair (New York), and the Rose City Comic Con (Oregon). The con secured the Javits, which would offer a familiar locale for the community while offering plenty of room to grow over the years.
The pre-Thanksgiving weekend run, meanwhile, felt like a smart play in overall positioning. It was far enough out from the big boys to stand out, but not so close to the holidays that it would be lost in the shuffle.
At the same time, Anime NYC was already boasting partnerships with popular players like Crunchyroll, Kinokuniya, and Viz Media. There was plenty of energy behind the event at the outset, both within the fan community and the industry. Tickets for Saturday sold out in the lead-up to the event, with attendance capped for this important first weekend.
Which brings us to today. Well, November 17, to be precise. Thousands of fans are lining up, and getting checked in to this year’s event. At the entrance, a gaggle of reporters and fans are lined up, eagerly snapping photos, as show runner Peter Tatara takes the podium, flanked by Fate/stay Night cosplayers, Viz Media’s Charlene Ingram, and New York Chair of Governmental Operations Ben Kallos.
“Anime fans of New York,” Tatara stated, “for the next three days, the Javits Center is yours.” Following a pop from the gathered crowds, Tatara gave his words of thanks, and his devotion to seeing Anime NYC become a success under his watch as show runner.
As he discussed the year of hard work that went into the event, one could feel a sense of pride, albeit tempered with a humble air in his words. This was his baby, and it was clear that he’d do everything in his power to make the weekend a success. He offered thanks for the hard work of everyone involved, from the many who spent sleepless nights preparing for the day, to partners with Kinokuniya, Aniplex, and Viz who joined him onstage.
And, most of all, he thanked the folks in the audience for making this weekend a reality.
As Tatara finished his statements, Kallos took the podium. He played up his geek cred, name-dropping shows like Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, and Outlaw Star in a series of remarks. He thanked local and out-of-state fans alike for for attending, and playfully encouraged folks to spend money at the con, hoping “to raise enough to match the $$60 billion it would take to pay Vash the Stampede’s bounty.”
Ultimately, though, he wished the event, its organizers, and the thousands who were sure to gather at the event this weekend the best.
Following this, Kallos presented Tatara with a certificate that officially commemorated the weekend as “Anime NYC Weekend” in New York City.
As Kallos stepped aside, Tatara took the podium once again, to declare Anime NYC officially open to the public.
Amid the cheers of the crowd, there was a palpable feeling of hope in the air, and a unique energy that seems to arise specifically in these first-year events. Anime fans in New York City have a place to call their own, now, right in the heart of the Javits. No longer must they be content with traveling to D.C. or Boston, nor do they have to trek to forgotten corners of New York Comic Con. This is their new home, and it’s time to break it in.