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a con in review – NYCC 2013

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Sci-fi, comic, fantasy, Japanime, manga and music fans alike all convened at the Jacob Javits Center for a four day festival of the literary and media arts. Knowing the high traffic and danger of the congestion, organizers limited the sales of tickets. Within a few months (which may be even less since I wasn’t checking,) the weekend badges for NYCC was already sold out with saturday only badges following suit. Though sunday tickets were still available a few weeks before the con, it was certainly also sold out when the week of rolled around.

This year more than ever really felt like NYCC was a four day convention. The first day already boasted a busy show room that is usually seen on friday afternoons. The number of fans packed into the panel rooms throughout the weekend is only evident that though the organizers had made some headway into preventing chaos, chaos will still undoubtably occur with the high number of fans and small size of rooms. Change is still needed, but let’s through the con first!

Thursday, October 10

Exhibition Hall

The major change this year was the entrance and exit instructions. Utilizing a barcode system, attendees could enter at any door and be scanned while getting their bag checked. The only way to leave the premises was to scan the badge again. That would prevent fake badges as well as the sharing of badges. Also, the badges themselves are registered to each individual once they are activated. Besides the entering and exit procedures, industries also utilized the badge system in marketing. Several booths gave out freebies for scanning badges as well.

The booths I knew through the years really downsized. Anime Castle didn’t bring their BL collection, h.Naoto mentioned how their space got smaller, the cheap anime booth didn’t bring their usual $5 manga section. Even big booths were affected: Squenix was so small that I almost missed it. No large screens showcasing their trailers and no demos to play. Too bad, I was looking forward to Lightning Returns to take up some space.

Also, the other areas were taken over by Chevrolet, Geico, Dave and Busters and surprisingly, Medieval Times. (The last one I can unerstand…afterall comic fans are at times Renaissance fans as well.)

As always, it’s interesting to note the manga side of spectrum of the comic side.

Kodansha’s focus was Attack on Titan, the main series for Japanime fans at this con.

Vertical had copies of Gundam: The Origin vol. 4 before the release date.

Another spotlight company this con was Daisuki. Their large booth boasted a stage where events were held throughout the con.

The Pokemon X and Y game will be released in another 24 hours!

Good Smile had a few notable figurines for fans.

Friday, October 11

waiting for panels

The panel rooms were small and since the anime track was smaller than last year (only about 2 panels happening at the same time,) Japanime fans were packed into the few panels that were available…which meant many panels closed out even before it began.

For this reason, I hung out at the DC collector’s panel waiting for Sunrise to begin at 12:30pm.

Sunrise Q&A

Robert Napton was MCing the panel along with Managing Director of Sunrise Sasaki Shin and the Manager of International Sales Hagino Akane.

After the panel, I was able to join in the line for the Kodansha panel.

Kodansha Q&A

Editor Ben Applegate moderated the panel along with the ‘little boss’ Dallas Middaugh, David Yoo along with the general manager of publishing.

short signing

After the panel, I headed to the show room to attend the Baba Hideo signing at the Namco Bandai booth. Thankfully, the line wasn’t that long when I arrived.

Graciously, he signed two items plus the double sided Tales of Xillia 2 and Tales of Symphonia poster. (At the staff’s comment, he signs quickly.)

I told him in Japanese that I was a fan of the series and my favorite one was Tales of Graces since the music was so beautiful. (Though it was a hard pick since the music was gorgeous for all of them.) I also told him that I was looking forward to his new games.

Saturday, October 12

Sword Art Online Screening

The Kodansha and Funimation panel line was of course filled even though it wasn’t 11:15am yet so I hung out for the Sword Art Online line. It was only a screening and there were so many people waiting for it.

Surprisingly, the 1A15 room which many industry panels were held is super small. Its the one they held the Guilty Crown premiere the year before. Why such a small room? Are they trying to make this exclusive? <.< In any case, the Aniplex guy we all love, E.J. Rivera began by snapping a pic of the audience for the facebook page. Than he announced that during the Oct. 20 broadcast of Sword Art Online on Toonami, there will be a ‘Watch and Win’ contest with the grand prize being the 3-D Personal Viewer head mounts from Sony. Than we began watching the first two episodes in English dub.

The dub voices are very good. Bryce Papenbrook (Okumura Rin, Blue Exorcist) was awesome as Kirito and Cherami Leigh (Kunogi Himawari, xxxHolic) was great as the (than) soft spoken Asuna. The nuances were all there and the expressions were not forced at all. It was definitely a winning dub for Bang Zoom! Entertainment. It makes me want to watch the series again.

At the end of the screening, Rivera gave out SAO posters to the 5 winners of jankenpon.

break before signing

After the SAO screening, I headed to the Artist Alley to check things out. Before, there was a separation between Japanime and comic artists…which wasn’t good since the Japanime one was put all the way where the Press office is currently. Since the merge, I thought there would be combination between the two. I expected a few tables for Japanime but didn’t expect that there was none at all. That was disappointing…but to be expected since if dealer’s area was $2000, I imagine artist tables to be quite pricy as well. The comic artists alley is always really packed and quite professional too as many independents are actually artists for a living. (Which is why I’m confused why the small publishing area is always lessed packed than the artist alley.)

After the walk to the Artist Alley and a break at the Dealer’s Room, I headed to the autograph area to wait for the Spike Spencer signing.

The signing began a little bit earlier as Mike McFarland and Spike Spencer appeared escorted by Mari Illustrious Makinami and Penpen. During the signing, I asked Spike what his thoughts were concerning Shinji’s feelings for Kaworu.

    Spike: Tentative and naive.

Autograph done, I thanked them and headed off with my prize. I headed to the Aniplex panel line which was thankfully held in one of the larger rooms.

Aniplex Q&A

Though reading from a script, I always enjoy Aniplex’s panels as it’s well prepared, a beautiful mix of trailer with slide show and of course, his descriptions of the shows themselves. Also, Aniplex of America always has such beautiful boxsets which is well worth their high prices. (Still not as high compared to the gorgeousness of LE Japanese boxsets.)

little known secret

The Artist Alley is only hall that has no lines for restrooms. There are several bathrooms along the wall, and though the main area is packed, the area around the rest rooms are quite clear. After a restroom break, grabbed various cosplay photos around me.

When we left the con though, I saw the Legend of Zelda sand castle that everyone was oogling over. It is definitely awesome…though I’m curious how they transported it here in one piece. The details on that thing was amazing. With the wind blowing as hard as it did that night…I’m surprised it was still around. Even with no fence, I hope no one dared to touch it. (Though I think there was security for the castle. ^_^)

Sunday, October 13

I got to the con around 10am. Thankfully, the Daisuki line wasn’t long at all (everyone sleeping in on sundays? ^^;)

Daisuki Q&A

Like Jmanga except it’s for anime. And it’s free. That’s the short of it. The reason why people kept on comparing Daisuki with the now defunct Jmanga is that similar to Jmanga, it’s the Japanese companies reaching out to the worldwide fans. Six companies, Toei Animation, Aniplex, Sunrise, TMS Entertainment, Nihon Ad Systems and Denstu created a free streaming site for anime. Catering to fan needs, it includes creator comment videos as well as music videos. It gives fans a chance to watch anime legally online, giving proper credit and attention to the Japanese companies.

During my last round of the Exhibition Hall, I found this shogun near Japan Tours…. (They have armor which people could wear for photos.)

last thoughts

Due to the release of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y on friday, the game that everyone seemed to be playing was Pokemon. Or as I could see from my own 3DS street passes.

But I digress.

This con has grown tremendously and is organized quite well. They even sold limited tickets this year to prevent conjestion at the con. Of course, there was conjestion anyway. (And not from the badge scans. That actually went as smooth as it could go. Though the only problem was that some people’s badges had problems during the scanning process. But I heard it was easily remedied.) As a convention, congestion of this size isn’t an issue. It was the lack of organization for the panels that I was dissatisfied with. I am uncertain as to how large the comic panel rooms are, but the anime ones were much smaller. The industry panels that I attended were mostly held at 1A15 which is maybe less than half the size of 1A23. There was no opportunity to attend panels back to back as we needed to wait in line for each panel.

Though the Japanime track has deminished drastically, the efforts of anime and manga companies attending NYCC are still going strong. With them are their guest list and acquisitions which keep Japanime fans interested.

New York Comic Con 2013 has reached San Diego Comic Con numbers with 130,000 attendees over the four days. I’m uncertain as to how they could continue to expand their numbers with the limited size of the Jacob Javits, but I look forward to finding out. Improvement is always possible and we have a year for the next big idea. NYCC 2014 is Oct 9-12. Until than!

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