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NYCC/NYAF 2011 – a con in review

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Since it began in 2006, NY Comic Con has been growing exponentially every year. With the inclusion of NY Anime Festival, the cultures of sci-fi, fantasy, gaming merged with Japanimation, manga, fashion and music. This year marked the first when NYCC opened it’s doors to the public on thursday. Only the showroom is open at that time, but it granted attendees an opportunity to browse and shop in the showroom filled with the latest publications, the newest figures and of course see hints of what the weekend has to offer….

Thursday, October 13

I arrived at the Jacob Javits (home for tens of thousands for the next four days) around 3:30pm. I picked up my press badge and walked around a bit upstairs where people were already lining up for the showroom. There were many people in suits around and noted that there was another convention going on, Satcon. Thankfully, it was concluding that day at 5pm so we had free reign of the convention center.

As usual, I was drawn to the Gundam booth and stayed there for quite some time.

At the anime and manga booths, I inquired about booth events held throughout the weekend. There were many events going on at many times, but no signings. However, the events promoted the highlighted series of the weekend: Fairy Tail at the Funimation booth. The Funi booth had a character scavenger hunt, meaning we had to hunt down cosplayers of the series to get their ribbons. Difficult when they walk around. Event start the next day. There were also cosplay events like for Madoka Magica at the Aniplex booth.

Last year, the large dance booth was for the game ‘Michael Jackson: The Experience’. This year, it was ‘Black Eyed Peas’ as well as ‘Just Dance’. The draw to the booth was the same as well with a large stage which people can just go up and dance.

They upped the attraction a bit with ‘Just Dance’ happening on several different sides so that at any time, two different types of music will be blaring through the loudspeakers. Surprisingly, they used the speakers very well so that the two didn’t crossover each other and that they didn’t overlap each other so that the players can concentrate on their own steps and beat. Also, the booth wasn’t as noisy as I imagined it would be.

At the Square Enix booth, they were promoting FFXIII-2 with a brand new outfit for Serah. She went from cute and sweet to badass in no time with that new outfit!

There was a booth with a box where attendees could step in and scream. The machine would then rate their screams or their ‘rage’. It made for some interesting moments as people used all their strength in one shot…only to come up with a measely 75. I wonder if anyone got above 95.

There was a booth that had a ‘working’ contraption that the GhostBusters used to suck in the ghost. Of course, it would be ‘working’ if it had batteries and there were ghosts to suck in.

Near the end of the day, I met my friends at the Optimus Prime. It towered above everything and made for a wonderful meeting spot during the con.

Friday, October 14

Friday morning marked the beginning of my sleepless convention. I woke up early to get to the Takeuchi Junko autograph ticket pickup at 6am. I was able to get my ticket and grab breakfast at McDonald’s nearby. It was either that or trek back to 8th Ave. for a decent meal. The restaurant was filled with congoers with the same idea.

The convention didn’t officially open until 10am when the Showroom opens. I spent the morning exploring the rest of the showroom. It can be divided into 3 halls. The hall at the very right houses the Comic Con Artist Alley. Although the con doesn’t have a video game room, there are opportunities for you to play games from the latest Final Fantasy at the Square Enix booth to MMOs and the newest game from Capcom. (And there is also that giant dance booth….)

A very rare cosplay, Candy from the classic manga Candy Candy by Mizuki Kyoko-sensei.

Since my next panel will soon begin, I headed to the Anime hall at 1A. Surprisingly, the cosplay star of the weekend, Bumblebee was heading that way too. After I took the escalators down, I discover a clamor at level 2: Bumblebee was coming down as well!

Of course, it moved slowly and blocked everyone from behind, but it was awesome to see it move! (Con mentality: no one minds road blocks, not when it makes room for something this awesome. ^_^) Everyone cheered when Bumblebee got off safely with flashing lights and voice booming.

a morning of panels
The first panel of the con was for Aniplex with the President of Aniplex himself, Natsume Koichiro and the Executive Vice President of Planning and Production, Katsumata Hideo.

It was followed by the Takeuchi Junko-san panel, the seiyuu for a certain brash, orange jumpsuit-wearing ninja. Surprise after surprise filled the room in terms of content, swag and fan service (not the perverted kind.) Viz wanted to reward the fans and they succeeded.

Takeuchi Junko-san had a stack of autographs ready to personalize: a gold signature on a thick paper with Naruto’s pic from the Bonds movie. Besides the date, Takeuchi-san added his signature phrase, ‘dattebayo!’

After the signing, I rushed off to the autograph area for the DragonBall Z signing.

The autograph area is new hall added to the center. Thankfully, it is away from the showroom (unlike last year) and the waiting lines (located in it’s own area) do not obstruct traffic. It’s housed with the events for children and table games so it offers more space then the rest of the con. It also gave NYAF and NYCC congoers a chance to see guests of other fields and genres. Like the very next line over was the signing for Mark Hamill (with it’s not photograph policy. XD)

I got on the line around 3:30pm and it was already quite long. Thankfully, it was the last signing for that line so the VAs agreed to stay so that everyone could receive an autograph. On the line, I met someone who will be attending the Naruto movie premiere.

Around 5:30pm, I finally got to meet Chris Sabat (Vegeta/Piccolo,) Sean Schemmel (Goku) and Justin Cook (Super Majin Buu.)

Afterwards, I was able to take a quick look around the showroom before my next panel.

Mashima Hiro and Kodansha Panel
My one and only displeasure about the Mashima-sensei panel was the size of the room. It was smaller than the one for the Takeuchi Junko-san panel and it’s surprising considering that the previous panel was for Vocaloid and it’s currently for Mashima-sensei, both creators of very popular franchises.

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva premiere
There was no word of the movie screening in the program, nor was it in the schedule. Access to the screening was on a first-come first-serve basis with press needing to RSVP to the event. Since it was an exclusive event, the room was exclusively small. The line for the event was already very long when I arrived around 7:30pm (rushing over from the Kodansha panel.) Those who saw the line could not miss seeing the event. Everyone was given a tall brown foam hat of the famous Professor Layton.

The screening closed a wonderful first day to the con.

Saturday, October 15

Fairy Tail autographs

The line for the 6am autograph pickup was longer than for Takeuchi-san the day before. (As in, more people got there earlier.) When the con doors opened, I headed straight for the autograph area. As mentioned from the Mashima-sensei and Kodansha panel, there were items that people can pick from at the signing. Of course, they’re in limited supply which is why only the people from the front of the line will be able to receive the items.

The autograph signing began a bit after 11am. Mashima-sensei personalized the Fairy Tail shikishi along with his autograph. I told Mashima-san in Japanese that I always look forward to Fairy Tail. From the table to gifts to fans, I chose a shitajiki board with the Fairy Tail cast.

I rushed to the autograph hall where the English Fairy Tail cast will be signing at 12pm. The signing began on time but Todd Haberkorn (Natsu) still didn’t appear. However, Tyler Walker (Vijeeter,) Cherami Leigh (Lucy,) Newton Pittman (Gray) and Collen Clinkenbeard (Ezra) greeted the fans.

Artist Alley

I had time so I decided to hit the NY Anime Festival Artist Alley held at the top floor. It’s also where the anime stage is located. When I got there, I could hear Mario Bueno singing in the back. The Artist Alley had alot of wide aisles and wonderful bright lighting (perfect for photos). One of the artists caught my eye with her own computer game (not BL) featuring her beautiful artwork. ‘Novantes Harmana’ by Widelia (on deviantart) as well as an upcoming original online graphic novel in Dec. 2012. I look forward to seeing what she will be putting out.

Makoto Shinkai in Conversation
After about an hour in the area, I made my way to the next panel which was for Shinkai Makoto-sensei. While waiting in line to get in, an impromptu balloon volleyball game commenced on the line. At least the fans can entertain themselves.

Showroom Break

I browsed the Dealer’s room which was packed. I knew saturday would be busy, but the sheer amount of people in those halls surprised me. Even with wide aisles, the halls were simply a steady stream of people going in one direction…and squeezing through to go another way required alot of manuevering. More than once, there were comments from friends and companions noting that they were glad they did their shopping on thursday.

I stayed until 5:30pm when I tried to get into the Guilty Crown episode 2 premiere. There were no press seating due to new policy and the line was long. (Didn’t realize until the next day when I saw the size of the room. Less than HALF of the one they used to hold the Takeuchi-san panel. These exclusive events are totally exclusive!)

Instead, I headed up to meet with my photographer friend who was doing a Batman photoshoot with the ladies of Batman. They shot in the business center which were like little closests with a computer. The perfect setting for Harley Quinn. The shots of Poison Ivy and Catwoman were sexy.

masquerade waiting
The lines for the masquerade went through two empty halls in the lower level. Not that people filled the entire hall, it was that the staff held half the line in one area before bringing them in to another area. Though the masquerade was scheduled to start at 8:30, we weren’t able to get in until 9:30pm.

One complaint I had for the staff was that the end of the line wasn’t clear. They directed people ‘around the corner’ which was really didn’t lead anywhere. Was there really another way into the hall? In either case, there was some confusion which isn’t the best for an event of that size. However, I do compliment the staff on handling so many people. Though the fans around me were amiable and we amused ourselves, I’m sure there were irritable tempers and impatient individuals in every crowd.

Naturally, as many waited over 3 hours for this. At the end, I felt that we were well rewarded for the wait.

This Boy Can Fight Aliens

There were no Hetalia and Naruto skits. Not that they were all bad…but with Uncle Yo mentioning that, it sounds like we’re better off for it. As usual, Uncle Yo was the host. He created an awesome spiel for the opening and of course, plugging Gaia online who were watching live (and voting.) Then came a surprise animated short that I’m thrilled that I didn’t miss.

NYCC/NYAF Masquerade 2011

The masquerade was awesome for being unique and well done. There were minimal dance skits (which has been taking over many a masquerade…heavy on the word masquerade now) and those that were dances were honestly interesting like ‘Choose Your Final Fantasy’ (A performance that proves Asians can dance) and a Marvel vs. Capcom 3 solo called ‘Phoenix Dance of Fire’ which was amazing, though sadly didn’t win any awards (at least I don’t think so.) Some other highlights include a Scott Pilgrim’s ‘Can’t Be Tamed’, ‘Planet Otaku’ which is what happens when Star Trek meets Haruhi as well as Gaia Online Viewers Award of ‘Moonlight Destiny’.

Best in Show was obvious from the moment they stepped on stage. Transformers, ‘Float Like a Butterfly Dance Like a Bumblebee’ was a hit. The lights went out…and out came Bumblebee.

The fans were screaming but it got deafening when we all realized that…he was turning into a car on stage. When something this awesome happens, there are no words to describe it. (Some people spotted this transformation during the day. Lucky people.)

The halftime show featured Mario Bueno and his exhibition skit. It continues in the style of Scott Pigrim last year only this time, he is Phoenix Wright. You can see the Trial of the Century Part 1 and Part 2 on his youtube site. Another epic performance. Every year, this becomes bigger and bigger.

Since it was already getting late, the judges appeared on stage to announce the rewards very quickly bringing the end to another wonderful though tiring con day.

Sunday, October 16

Guilty Crown Screening and Q&A
I got to the con around 9am and headed straight to Hall A so I can wait for the 11:15am Guilty Crown screening and Q&A. I had other plans (like the Viz Media panel or the Hoshi o Ou Kodomo movie but since I missed the screening the day before, I wanted to attend this one especially since it included the Q&A.

Guilty Crown autograph signing
The Guilty Crown signing was definitely not part of my schedule since I wasn’t aware of it. But now that I knew, it was my next task. I quickly headed to the autograph hall. While I waited, the signing that was currently taking place was for Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer for Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

Yamamoto Kouji was first followed by Oyama Ryu and George Wada. The three of them signed the Guilty Crown poster. I told them in Japanese that I was looking forward to next week’s episode…though they quickly corrected me saying in two weeks to which I agreed. I happily thanked them and went on my way.

last rounds of the con
Sunday is Kids Day at NYCC. Even before the con began, the Sunday tickets were already sold out. With children getting in free, the parents who brought them would need tickets. (Genius marketing strategy right there!) Of course, all the children were giving their Halloween costumes a test run. I found a kid Yoshi playing but didn’t see any parents nearby. I really hate taking photos of children without parents permission…but this was too cute to let up.

I stopped by the ‘Iron Man’ booth which had a bunch of products sold from the movie¬†before heading back to the Dealer’s Room to do some last minute shopping.

I caught sight of this screen at the Funimation booth which was signed by all the English VAs.

A strange sight greeted me as people stopped and pointed. At one corner of the hall (the Honda booth,) a car was floating off the ground. It went up and down, tilted a bit and righted up. It didn’t go upside down, but the view was certainly eye catching. I still don’t know what was going on though I did see the floating fake car safely on the ground when I passed by the booth later. Was Honda trying to say your car is so light that it flew? We wish!

Although I didn’t attend the Viz Media panel, I soon learned that they obtained the license for Loveless, a series that I was interested in. (aka. Obsessed Fan) I went to the VizMedia booth and asked the staff some questions. They will be releasing from vol. 9 (since Tokyopop put out 1-8 already.) Volume 9 is coming out in June 2012 and volume 10 in October. They will be single volumes and they have no answer as to whether or not they’ll be color pages. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more news concerning this.

I returned to the autograph hall to meet with friends and take more pictures. Cute story: Transformers Kree-O had these two robots taking pics with children. One kid wanted to get a pic with Optimus Prime. Hurt that he was excluded from the pic, Bumblebee started crying to which the staff comforted him. Then with fickle feelings, the kid then took a pic with Bumblebee to which Optimus started crying. It was too cute for words.

I was also able to grab pics of the Delorean and Batmobile. (For a monetary fee, attendees could sit in all the cars and have their pictures taken.

At 5pm, the convention staff asked everyone to leave and closed it’s doors. The record attendence is at 105,000 people, an increase from 96,000 in 2010. There was a cap on badges sold (thankfully,) and even with the increase from last year, we were granted the entire con center with the inclusion of the 4th level for NYCC Artist Alley and Anime Stage. The place was crowded, but I heard it was an improvement from last year. (I didn’t necessary felt the improvement-surrounded by people on saturday-but I’ll take their word for it.) The dates for next year are set for October 11-14, 2012, same location, same insanity. I’ll see you there!

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