Anime NYC 2021 Recap
The #2021 Anime Convention Experience
It was amazing getting back into a convention hall and feeling the energy given off at Anime NYC. There is nothing like squeezing shoulder to shoulder with my fellow otaku. A feeling that was really missed last year.
Unfortunately, there were a few hiccups along the way.
Issues Getting Into the Javits Center
There was a huge issue this weekend at the Javits Center. The line to get into the convention reached well over four hours for some folks trying to get in for the first time. Too many otaku were left outside in the cold while a tiny amount of staff funneled them in slowly. If you had made it to the convention center before Friday’s opening, you were able to just stroll on in with both your badge and your vaccination wrist band. Anyone without the good fortune of being in NYC on Wednesday or Thursday was subjected to quite the terrible experience on Friday.
I would like to say that by Saturday it got better, but it was still rough overall for people trying to get into the convention hall. Still too many single day visitors for the largest day hadn’t been by to either pickup their badge, wristband, or both. It really felt like the convention was in its first year again.
I get that this is the first year back in person after a physical hiatus last year, but the messaging outside was poor. I hope that if the necessary precautions taken this year are still necessary for 2022, that there will be a few more staff inside and outside to handle the influx of tens of thousands of people trying to get into the convention center. Fortunately, however, the inside of Anime NYC was a different story.
At Anime NYC 2019, I would argue that Demon Slayer was the up-and-comer cosplay, if not the top cosplay of the show. Two years later it absolutely dominated the cosplay scene. I saw more otaku running around in Tanjiro’s checkered black and green cloak than almost anything else. It also wasn’t just Tanjiro dominating the scene. Every significant character from Demon Slayer had fantastic representation this year. The one character I can argue wasn’t done enough for her popularity was Nezuko. Anime NYC 2021 was the year of Demon Slayer.
If Demon Slayer was the up-and-comer of 2019, then Chainsawman is this years up-and-comer. For a popular manga with only an announced anime adaption, Chainsawman was well represented. Power, the blood devilman, was probably the most popular character from what I saw. A number of Denjis made an appearance with a few really well-made ones with the chainsaw head and all.
Two things surprised me the most about the popularity of Chainsawman in the cosplay world. First, Makima cosplay was few and far between. I suspect that cosplayers looking for an easy to wear character went with the more distinctive looking Power. Her horns make it easier to recognize Power from Makima. Second, the number of the angel devil cosplayers surprised me. I am certain I saw almost a dozen throughout the convention hall, which feels over represented versus my percieved understanding of the characters popularity. I look forward to seeing how much Chainsawman grows once the anime hits.
Three last quick notes on the cosplay –
- Haikyuu!! had some great representation, especially on Friday. Dozens of cosplayers showed up in a jersey and volleyball shorts. I always knew it was popular, but I didn’t think of it as a big target for cosplayers.
- Jujutsu Kaisen didn’t appear as popular as I predicted. This is one of the more popular shounen series currently running, and I felt that it could compete against Demon Slayer for top slot in cosplay population. I was wrong. My suspicion is that anyone into Jujutsu Kaisen went with a Demon Slayer cosplay instead and next year we will see a bigger following.
- My Hero Academia really fell off. If Demon Slayer wasn’t the hottest cosplay of Anime NYC 2019, then it was definitely My Hero Academia back then. This year I almost didn’t notice its absence until I saw my first Deku on Saturday. The competition for most shounen cosplay is really being driven by Demon Slayer.
The Impact of Mihoyo
Something that I am not sure truly surprised me is the popularity of Genshin Impact. Very few properties, and essentially no other game, had nearly as much marketing, cosplay, merchandising, and artist presence as Mihoyo’s ultra popular gatcha game.
Mihoyo had the most popular booth of the show. A couple of lines wrapped around their giant and well done tower. I call it out as Mihoyo instead of Genshin Impact because they did service to market some of their other games both on and coming to market. It was Genshin Impact though that was driving quite the merch line around their booth, as well as a photo op with their professional cosplay hires.
Besides Demon Slayer, Genshin Impact had most of the cosplay I saw over the weekend, and was probably the most popular group effort for cosplay. Dozens of groups passed through the halls in some pretty well executed cosplay. most of the character designs aren’t easy to do with a casual getup. The Genshin Impact crowd came to play.
Even artist alley was dominated by Genshin Impact. It felt like just under half of the booths were selling charms, stickers, cards, and even a couple were doing mini plushies. At the last physical convening of Anime NYC, Fire Emblem: Three Houses had the market cornered for game specific merchandise. This round, Fire Emblem was gone and Overwatch felt persona non grata in artist alley. Its all Genshin all the time this year.
Final Thoughts on Anime NYC 2021
All things said, there was an energy around the building that was sorely missed in 2019. I think if things are mellowed out next year, then we can expect a much better run entrance to the con. The overall experience was pretty well put together. Most panels were seemingly run pretty efficiently, if not too tight in terms of time. Anime NYC is a convention worthy of the name, and I can’t wait to see what 2022 brings.