My Experience At Anime NYC 2019

Anime NYC was a phenomenal convention with little downside. First though, maybe I should preface this by saying two things. I live in New York, going back and forth from Manhattan everyday so I’m very used to it. Also, I attended through professional registration. I say “maybe” because the latter didn’t mean much. 

For all intents and purposes, it functioned the same as a 3 day pass with a discount. Normally, the 3 day pass costs $70. A professional pass costs $45. Besides that? I suppose there was early access to the exhibition hall. By a few minutes. On the first day, Friday, I attended late due to my schedule. However, on Saturday, I did go to take advantage of the so called early access. While the “professionals” were the first group to enter the hall (With the exception of those with disabilities; completely understandable and I have no qualms with that), it was about 10:00 AM on the money, the time the hall was supposed to open.

Moreover, while hearsay, I overheard from a person on the professional line that on Friday, those with pro passes weren’t the first to enter the hall, preceded by those with normal passes who arrived early. All that to say I have no bias just because of a dinky badge. (But I appreciate the discount! Accept me next year AnimeNYC!). 

Anyway, on to stuff you might actually care about. The booths! Oh man. I’m still gushing over everything. If you’re looking for any merch, search around enough and you’ll find something to your liking. This is especially true in Artist Alley. Walking around and seeing the variety of art styles, it almost prompted me to ask for commissions (some artists were publicly advertising their willingness to do so too!). If you’re not too interested in artwork or posters, there were many custom badges, pins, and jewelry. I also feel the need to apologize. Some booths got less attention from the public than others and the people running them appeared fairly down. I wish I had enough spare money to give to all of them.

For the purpose of not making this article too long, I’ll cover what I thought was the best booth and one that was… problematic.

One booth in particular that kept me coming back for more was Katana/Sakana. I can’t sing enough praises about them or their products. Admittedly, my fashion isn’t overtly anime regardless of the setting. Thankfully, their booth was perfect for me! Designed with the intent to be “subtle and minimal for everyday wear,” they work as great designs for the unaware and wonderful homages to the knowledgeable. Here are two pictures of what I bought: 

Additionally, the two guys running the booth were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I talked with them all three days of the convention and their charisma and passion for the entire medium was evident. These “two guys,” who came down to New York from Toronto, designed all merch themselves and are deserving of so much credit. Go check them at their site here

However, there was one booth which I deemed problematic. I didn’t get their booth name but it was one of various prop sellers, selling foam and plastic swords, as well as other replicas from games and anime. What was problematic about it? The prices.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this because I couldn’t afford them. I’m saying this because they were constantly changing; not from day to day, from person to person. To make sure this was the case, my friend and I tested it. Two people were running the booth when we were there. Let me provide an approximate transcription of the conversation.

**There were no price tags on the props.

Pointing to a sword, my friend asks:

[Friend]: Excuse me. How much is this?

[Seller 1]: $40.

[Friend]: Okay. Thank you.

The seller moves on to help other people while my friend continues to eye the props. Waiting until he is out of earshot, not far giving how noisy the convention was, he points to the sword again and asks the other seller:

[Friend]: Excuse me. How much is this?

[Seller 2]: $50.

With a scrunched face, he shakes his head in disapproval.

[Seller 2]: I’ll give it to you for $45.

What does this indicate? There are two possible explanations.

  • The two sellers were ignorant of the price they were selling the props at.
  • Either of the sellers misspoke. 
  • Seller 2 is hiking up the prices purposefully.

If (1), that’s a serious issue. People are getting priced more than they should unfairly. It also shows a lack of awareness and care on behalf of the sellers. However, I struck a conversation with Seller 2 who stated that he had run many booths before. 

If (2), that’s still a serious issue but perhaps an isolated incident; however it’s not excusable. While the explanation is valid, it’s not a justification.

If (3), I’m not sure. Booths are expensive and you’re trying to advertise and make money. Yet, I posit that this takes it too far. Forcing customers to have to bargain for a lower price is unethical to me. This is especially the case when you’re targeting the community you supposedly love.

**There were other booths selling extremely similar weapons. The prices of these other booths were lower than the aforementioned. Take away what you will from that. 

**Also, every product they sold was “the last one they had.” Now that’s shady.

There are a few things which could be improved upon. I got the feeling that the Javits Center wasn’t used to its fullest potential. The crowd at large mainly stuck to one floor, only separating when going to panels. Perhaps they should consider separating Artist Alley and the exhibitors. 

Additionally, the lines for panels were a bit jumbled. At least, they were for the FGO and Code Geass panels. I’m not sure what a solution to this would be though. The same can be said for the Aniplex store. 

These critiques are largely minor and there’s a reason for that. Anime NYC 2019 was lovely and the critiques I give are small because everything else was great. It truly felt like the community was being catered to in the perfect way. All people who ran the booth felt genuinely nice, a shout out once more to Katana/Sakana as well as STL Ocarina (The woman running the booth took song requests. I talked with her about my inexperience with wind instruments, though she ultimately convinced me that they were intuitive to learn and so I did end up buying one.). Go and check out their products!

This ocarina I bought wasn’t themed on anything in particular, but maybe you’d be interested in these:

The atmosphere was so friendly that I felt comfortable to compliment every cosplay I saw, the antithetical action of the introvert that I am. Some were cosplaying Sailor Moon, Soul Eater, Fate, and prominently My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer.

Would I recommend going? Of course! It would be lovely to meet you all there in November of 2020. Whether you’re a local, from another state in the US, or farther; I extend the welcome I received to you!

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