My NY Comic Con & Anime Fest Experience - 2018
Every year, I have one convention that I go to without fail, and that is New York Comic Con, otherwise known as NYCC. This year, I went bigger than I ever have, going Friday, Saturday AND Sunday to the convention. 2018 was also a landmark year in that it brought with it the return of Anime Fest, NYCC’s sister convention (that hasn’t been held in almost a decade), which I attended on Thursday. I’m here to tell you just what it was like going every single day: the good, the bad, and the geeky.
THURSDAY: THE RETURN OF ANIME FEST
Let’s begin with Thursday, and my return to the first anime convention I ever attended: Anime Fest. I arrived at 10 am when the convention began, but was surprised, almost shocked to find that not only was there no line to get in, the halls were practically empty! Anime Fest was laid out like it would accommodate as many people as New York Comic Con, but this was decidedly not the case in actual attendance. With how big and empty the con felt, it was hard to get excited and get in the mood to purchase anything or attend any events, though I did see some cool things on the floor, like Work In Progress versions of Goblin Slayer Figmas (poseable figures) and Nendoroids (cute, smaller poseable figures-pictured above). Yet, I did attend one panel early in the morning – Voice Actors Go Full Weaboo, hosted by Blake Shepard (voice of Soma in Food Wars!) and Caitlynn French (voice of Shiro in No Game No Life). There, they recounted their trip to Japan and what that was like. Since I myself have been to Japan, it was thrilling to hear what people in the American side of the Anime industry had to say about what the country was like, and I even got to ask a question myself! I asked them both how their journey to Japan affected their voice acting, and both gave interesting answers. Caitlynn French, a voice actress who describes herself as “being typecast into playing very monotone characters” like the aforementioned Shiro from No Game No Life or Ai Astin from Sunday Without God, said that going to Japan gave her new insight into the emotionality behind monotone characters. “The Japanese have such a unique way of speaking. For them, it’s not necessarily about the way you talk so much as the way you hit each syllable.” This was something I myself had never even considered while watching subbed anime! Blake Shepard spoke on the more societal end of things, saying “For the Japanese, everything they do is centered around being polite. If you’re being rude, they expect you to realize that and kind of catch yourself. They’re not going to tell you you’re doing something wrong.” This too was very interesting! After the panel ended, the convention seemed more packed and I was able to enjoy everything the convention had to offer.
Anime Fest did many things right in its return year. Its Artist Alley was naturally anime-centric, and had a lot of lesser known artists that “aren’t enough of a draw” for New York Comic Con, which allows for a wider variety of art and better exposure for lesser known artists, like Reetz or GreenTeaNeko. Additionally, Anime Fest had two separate large areas for fans to sit and rest, should they need to. From simple lawn chairs to plush, fantastic bean bag sofas, you could really tell the con runners cared about the guests’ well-being. Lastly, and this may just be because the convention isn’t very big yet, but meeting with celebrities feels a lot more personal at Anime Fest than at NYCC. I was able to talk with Blake Shepard, Caitlynn French, Ian Sinclair and Jason Douglas for a while, and they’re all genuinely great people who really seem to love what they do. Blake Shepard is even a fellow Animation student, and creating his own animated series with fellow anime industry friends! It was a pleasure to meet them all and I really hope they get invited back next year!
Unfortunately, as with any first outing, there are bound to be some stumbling points, and Anime Fest wasn’t without those. Chief among the con’s missteps was its lack of advertisement. The con’s events for Friday, Saturday and Sunday were detailed in email blasts every so often, weeks before the event began, but Thursday’s events and guests weren’t announced until the morning of the convention, which left me without anything substantial for Ian Sinclair (voice of Dandy in Space Dandy) and Jason Douglas (voice of Beerus in Dragonball Super) to sign! The same goes for any of the panels held on that day – I had no idea what was being held or when until I got on site.
Ultimately, Anime Fest was fun, but I really hope next year is better organized. With that said, it’s time to move on to Friday, and the beginning of the main event!
FRIDAY: ALL FOR NYCC !!!
Friday marked the first day of my attendance for New York Comic Con, and I decided to switch things up by cosplaying as All For One from the anime My Hero Academia. Now, I’d cosplayed before at Otakon, but I’d never dressed up for a convention as densely packed as NYCC, and none of my costumes were ever as elaborate as All For One’s helmet. I spent a solid month crafting the thing with my grandmother, and I was really happy with how it came out! Unfortunately, I didn’t count on how it would feel to be wearing both the helmet and a full suit inside the convention center for more than 15 minutes. I had to take a break every hour or so just to stop myself from overheating. (Side note: It probably would have helped to have eaten ANYTHING over the course of the day besides water). Still, cosplaying at such a big convention had its perks. I would get stopped every few feet by someone who loved my costume and had to take a picture of or with me. The love that everyone showed me and my grandmother’s work really made me happy, and made me forget about the discomfort I was in.
Cosplaying was far from the only thing I did on Friday. Since I was dressed as someone from My Hero Academia, I thought it only appropriate to play the demo of the upcoming video game based on the anime: My Hero One’s Justice. One’s Justice is a fighting game based on My Hero Academia’s second and third seasons (Pictured Right). I’ve been following the development of this video game very closely ever since it was announced, but I first got my hands on it when I was at NYCC. I played it a total of four times at the convention, and loved it! The game feels very true to the roots of the series, and I can’t wait to play it on my Nintendo Switch two weeks from now! Also worth noting: I played three of the four matches in full costume, and won every single time! Not only that, but the game company, Bandai Namco, pulled me aside and interviewed me on what I thought of the game just because I was in costume! Even if the footage goes unused, it was still cool that that happened.
Another game I checked out the demo for was Rose City Games’ The World Next Door, a game that initially attracted me due to its unique, fun art style, but the gameplay kept me hooked. The game follows a human named Jun in the spirit world, as she learns magic and fights beasts. The way you battle in the game is interesting – think Bejeweled if you were actually on the game board, and a monster with hands all over its face was chasing you down and throwing fireballs at you the whole time! …Okay so maybe it’s not THAT much like Bejeweled, but it’s still great fun, and the branching dialogue trees offer fun character interaction! I’m definitely looking forward to playing this game in March 2019.
To cap off the day, my friends Maya, James and I attended [adult swim] presents: The Venture Bros. panel. It was certainly a lot different than I would have expected. Rather than an open interview with intermittent clips or any news on the recently announced Season 8, the panel was a huge open forum for fans to ask questions to Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick. And while this wasn’t what I expected, it was absolutely worth it – both of the creators were hilarious in every answer they gave, and the surprise appearance of Fudgie the Whale to deliver Doc Hammer a birthday cake was something no one could have seen coming. It was a wonderful way to end the first day of New York Comic Con.
SATURDAY: WALUIGI COMES TO NYCC
My second day at New York Comic Con brought with it a new costume for me to wear and a new character to become – Nintendo’s Waluigi! I was doing a Group Cosplay with my friends Alex and Rich. Alex was my counterpart, Wario, and Rich was the big (low) budget Space Pirate, Ridley. It was my first time ever doing a group cosplay and once again, it was a blast, maybe even more fun than cosplaying as All For One! I was no longer weighed down by the helmet so I could see everything, and there’s this intangible sense of camaraderie when you do something as a group that makes things that much more fun.
However, dressing as Waluigi wasn’t without its own unfortunate hiccups. Namely, the mustache I bought for the costume was cheaply made and would only stay on for a brief period of time before falling off. I kept trying to put it back on via spirit gum but eventually I just gave up and made up a story about why I was ‘stache-less. It was still a lot of fun, but if I go as him again, I’ll just use my natural mustache, and maybe dye it.
Saturday was a great day for me, since I got to meet two icons – one from modern anime, and one from my childhood. The former was Josh Grelle, voice of Armin in Attack on Titan, but he’s most recognizable to me and Alex as the voice of Maou from The Devil is a Part-Timer!, an anime where Satan himself comes to earth, loses all his magic and is forced to work at McDonald’s to make ends meet. Josh Grelle was a fantastic guy who clearly loves his work, and it was fantastic to meet him.
I also finally met Steve Blum, voice of countless characters from my childhood, but most notably Jamie from the underrated classic animated series, Megas XLR, a series about a gamer from Jersey who finds and fixes up a giant robot from the future and uses it to defend earth from aliens and monsters. I’d been trying to meet him for several years now, so to get to see him in person was absolutely fantastic! He’s truly a great guy, and one who misses Megas just as much as I do, if not more. It was truly a great moment.
I attended two panels on Saturday, a hit and a miss: The Umbrella Academy Invites You to Check In to “Hotel Oblivion” and Exclusive NYCC First Look: Reign of the Supermen. Alex and I attended the Hotel Oblivion panel, and we were both very underwhelmed. I have been a fan of the comic book series The Umbrella Academy for years, so when I heard there was going to be a panel on it, I jumped at the chance, and dragged Alex along with me. Unfortunately, there was little enjoyment to be had from the panel. Gabriel Ba and Gerard Way, the two hosts of the panel, were passionate but lifeless in talking about the series. This was especially jarring to me considering Gerard Way is a rock star, former lead singer of My Chemical Romance, so to hear him so quiet and leaving me practically disinterested was a huge shock to me. The only real thing of substance to me was learning that in addition to the upcoming Netflix series based on the comic, the series had actually just started up again with a new issue, which I promptly picked up at the Dealer’s Hall.
By contrast, the Reign of the Supermen panel was exactly what I expected a Comic Con panel to be – interviews with the cast and crew, plus sneak peeks at the upcoming film. The Death of Superman, World Without a Superman and Return of Superman comic series were the first I ever read in full, so to say this film is important to me would be a big understatement. I’ve read unused scripts for films that would use this storyline, and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice particularly upset me for its waste of this great story. I remember back when 2007’s Superman: Doomsday was released, I was initially very disappointed that we wouldn’t see the Four Supermen adapted into a film, so finally seeing them animated and on a big screen was absolutely fantastic. I can’t wait to see this film when it comes out on DVD next year. So, with all that said, let’s move on to Sunday.
SUNDAY: DAWN OF THE FINAL DAY
Sunday began differently than I expected, with Maya, Alex and I attending the Talks Machina with the Cast of Critical Role panel. Critical Role is a Dungeons and Dragons game played and run by voice actors. Neither Maya, nor Alex or I had seen Critical Role before the panel, and let me tell you, attending did nothing to help us understand it. Much like the Venture Bros. panel, this was an open forum for fans to ask questions to the cast and crew. Unfortunately, because we’d never seen the series, it felt less like a fun panel and more like a conversation we were listening into that was full of inside jokes. It was the first panel I and my friends ever left early from.
After that, Alex and I finally explored the Artist Alley, which allowed me to pick up some fun new indie comics like Scales & Scoundrels, as well as getting some of my favorite titles like Motor Crush and REDNECK signed by their artists and authors. I also ran into Kristin Gudsnuk, author of Henchgirl, another indie comic I absolutely love, though I couldn’t get back to her booth to buy her newest work, Making Friends that day. I also got to see Alexander Iaccarino again, an artist whose work I truly adore; I have a Trigun poster he made framed and hanging right next to my desk. Though, if I’m being honest, I didn’t enjoy the Artist Alley as much this year. Maybe it’s because I went on Sunday, when time was the shortest and there were the most people there, or my increasing lack of wall space, or maybe I just liked Anime Fest’s Artist’s Alley better. In any case, this year’s was good, but not as much of a standout as I thought it would be.
New York Comic Con has always been a landmark point in my year, and this one was no exception. I got to hang out with friends from college and around my town, to dress up and be with other big fans of the same things I am, and I got to buy a LOT of cool new stuff to enjoy through the rest of the year. I went to the con during the day, then came home and gorged on fast food and anime with my friends all through each night. It was truly a great experience. After everything, all I can say is: Sign me up for next year!