Anime NYC 2022 Recap
Bringing the warmth of anime to a chilly New York City
Back in the bitter chills of November at the Javits Center, Anime NYC rolled through for a second straight year. Unlike last year, it has learned its lesson in how to throw a convention in a post-pandemic world, marking a significant improvement from the chaos of last year.
Last year was a feeling of coming back home after being away from college. You have missed your mother’s home cooking, but you are unaccustomed to the rules after being free for a semester. This year the convention held a more settled, relaxed, and comfortable vibe. More like a convention five years into its run than one in its first.
Getting into the convention was an infinitely smoother process than last year. Last year was an absolute disaster for folks who arrived for the first day on Friday instead of getting pre-screened on Thursday. Moving the screening booths and the metal detectors outside of the convention halls made for a faster and more seamless experience for con-goers. It took me less than five minutes from arriving at the Javits Center to being inside and in the warmth of the Crystal Palace, which is not coincidentally the time it takes to walk down the ramp, under the parking lot, and through the lower level doors without stopping. After last years 4 hour and 40 degree nightmare, kudos to the Leftfield Media staff and the Javits convention staff for putting on a well organized show. It was especially apparent when attending the panels.
HIDIVE Vs. Crunchyroll
The two big panels I made it to this year were the HIDIVE Industry Panel and the Crunchyroll Industry Panel on Saturday. Both featured some announcements from the two anime streaming platforms. It was most revealing to see how each service views themselves in the marketplace.
Little Brother Streaming
HIDIVE has been the smaller of the two platforms, well before Crunchyroll took a bigger bite of the pie when absorbing Funimation. It was very telling from their panel that they very well know that they are smaller, and feel the need to make the case for their existence. A good part of the panel was not just promos for current simulcasts and upcoming seasons of anime, but also literal promotions for the service. They are running a promotion for a whole month free trial when you commit to a month of service with code
Three things stood out to me at the panel. They are not afraid of their image as the smaller streaming service. HIDIVE leaned into their identity as the go to place for the classics, as well as the more adult. Beyond that they aren’t just content with being the smaller service. One of the bigger announcements coming out of the panel is that they are co-producing the upcoming anime Giant beasts of Ars. The show has a very Attack on Titan meets Final Fantasy vibe, with the later being more direct with some involvement from Final Fatasy alumni. Their biggest announcement also shows that they are going to fight to keep up with the big dog Crunchyroll. HIDIVE announced it is going to be Oshi no Ko which appears to be a big get for the service.
Big Brother Streaming
Crunchyroll wants to remind you that they are on top and if you want to watch anime online in 2023, you are going to stop there first. The Crunchyroll Industry Panel filled the entire panel room unlike the HIDIVE panel only a few hours earlier. You can tell by the line to get in, that the audience for anime knows Crunchyroll much better than HIDIVE. In that vein there was less from Crunchyroll in terms of announcements.
Most of Crunchyroll’s announcements focused on the upcoming Spring season instead of the imminent Winter season. They announced that they will be streaming Revenger, Yuri is My Job, The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague, Dead Mount Death Play, Ayaka, and The Ancient Magus Bride S2 are coming in Spring 2023. One other announcement of note is that Crunchyroll is picking up the adaption for Hell’s Paradise which looks to be a good one from the preview. Of course not everything happened in the panel room, with the show floor taking a lot of the spotlight itself.
Gundam Came to Gunplay
Gundam, and by extension Bandai Namco, had a huge presence at Anime NYC this year. In one of the biggest booths on the main show floor, Gundam had a massive stock of Gunpla for sale. Most of the time the booth had a line wrapped three-quarters of the way around. All over the floor I noticed con-goers carrying around bags filled with models waiting to snipped apart and assembled. Even all the way downtown getting dinner in Chinatown, I caught a handful of con-goers carrying around bags full of Gunpla.
At the front of the same booth was a mini stage and two ~half-sized Gundam. One from the currently airing The Witch from Mercury series, and the other from the ultra popular Gundam Wing series. On the stage at the show they hosted the former Mythbuster Adam Savage in a Gunpla building world record attempt. If you missed it, it was live streamed on Tested’s YouTube channel and is already available below.
Knowing that Adam Savage was at a giant convention means that he must have gone incognito on the show floor with some extravagant cosplay. I look forward to when Tested releases that video of Adam in cosplay.
The State of Cosplay at Anime NYC
One of my favorite activities in life is casually people watching, and nothing makes that more intriguing than meandering across the floor of an anime convention in NYC. I will not make claim that Anime NYC is the best place for cosplay, but it a great place to see what is popular among fandoms & what is falling out of fashion.
Dominating the Competition
If you were to put a gun (devil) to my head before the convention I could have easily told you Chainsaw Man is destined to be the most popular cosplay at the con. Without a doubt, Chainsaw Man dominated the crowd among the costumed at Anime NYC. To no one else’s surprise, Power was the most popular character by far. Dozens of costumed blood fiends donned the red horns & casual hooded sweater.
Other characters from Chainsaw Man didn’t do bad in terms of representation. Numerous cosplayers came out as Denji, both with and without his iconic chainsaw head. Makima was a popular choice, especially with the actual exhibitors. Plenty came through as the rest of the squad of Aki, Hirokazu, and the Angel Devil from Public Safety.
The number of cosplayers dressed as Kobeni was a respectable number for a character that has only shown up in the anime within the last few episodes. Manga readers showed up last year in good numbers for a show still a year away. This year they brought out one of the best Chainsaw Man cosplay outfits. One group drove around the convention floor as Kobeni & Power in Kobeni’s car. Don’t worry if you are an anime-only at this point. You will understand the joke soon enough.
Under the Cover of Fandom
One popular cosplay that caught my attention was the sheer number of SPYxFAMILY cosplayers, but more specifically, the number dressed as assassin Yor Forger. I know it is both an incredibly popular anime & manga, and that it is in the midst of its second season, but I didn’t expect as many Yor Forger cosplayers specifically. You could conceivably believe that Yor Forger was the second most popular single character among the costumed at Anime NYC.
The rest of the Forger family had good representation as well. Anya Forger was definitely another popular choice around the convention. Within the youngest demographic of con-goers, Anya was definitely a favorite. A handful of Lloyd Forgers made an appearance as well in his light green suit and hat. I even spied a few Frankies running around in some group SPYxFAMILY cosplays.
The Battle for Shounen Supremacy
By far the most popular choice for cosplay among the big shounen shows this year goes to One Piece. With a movie just hitting theaters, and the show going as strong as ever, the popularity of One Piece continues to dominate. The most interesting part about the One Piece cosplay supremacy was the absurd variety in characters represented in the cosplay populace. Not one particular character could be said to be the most popular character at Anime NYC.
Starting to falter in terms of its ranking in shounen cosplay territory is Demon Slayer. While still one of the largest groups of con-goers this year, there was a stark lack of Tanjiro or Nezuko. Being a couple months removed from the last season may have brought down the population, but also concentrated it in the characters that made a splash in the series. A lot of Uzui Tengen & Rengoku Kyoujurou made it onto the show floor this year.
Three last quick notes on the cosplay –
- Evangelion had a stronger showing this year than last. I think I might be biased, but there were a lot of Rei, Asuka, and Misato compared to last year. It brings joy to my heart that year in and year out someone is always showing up to the con in a white or red plugsuit.
- The population of Genshin Impact cosplayers was down significantly compared to last years bonanza for fans of the game. It wasn’t gone entirely, but you can see the waning of the popularity, even if the game had a presence on the show floor.
- My surprise popular cosplay of the convention has to go to Kongming from Ya Boy Kongming! There were a handful running around as the titular character. I think the standout nature of the outfit made it naturally more noticeable to me at least.
The Museum of Modern Artists Alley
Something piqued my interest in Artist Alley this year. The artists brought in by Anime NYC are almost universally some top tier talent in the community. For Anime NYC 2022, I really took note of the variety in the artistry and in the goods available for purchase.
Every year, just like in cosplay, there is a show or game that dominates Artist Alley in such a way as to take over the entire section of the convention. A few years ago it was Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Just last year it was Genshin Impact. This year it was nothing. I can confidently say that no new show, series, manga, or game truly stood out as the definitely must draw item at this year’s Artist Alley.
Not to say that the most popular shows this year didn’t make an appearance. There was plenty of lewd and chibi posters of Power to go around. It was just that there was so much more original art among the booths that there really wasn’t any room to go around for one show to truly dominate the way Chainsaw Man & SPYxFAMILY dominated the cosplay scene.
Variety is the Spice & Wolf of Life
At any good convention, when you exit the showroom floor on Sunday your wallet is a lot lighter. Artist Alley often can take a significant chunk of change from your coin purse if you find the right art. One of the other more notable things I need to mention about Artist Alley at Anime NYC this year was the variety of offerings for sale.
At any given convention in the past you go to an artist alley and pick up a custom print of your favorite character in the art style of the artist in question. In recent years more artists have come loaded to bear with acrylic key-chains, buttons, and stickers. This year more than any other convention going year has appeared to bring a plethora of new merchandise options for artists. Some of the things more notably for sale this year were more t-shirts, sweaters, and hats. While posters and postcards are clearly making up the vast majority of items, Just bringing a couple of posters to the alley clearly isn’t going to cut it anymore.
A handful of items did catch my attention that I have to mention the real oddities of Artist Alley. In no particular order I saw: more than one booth with Magic: The Gathering custom art tokens; air fresheners; tote bags; grocery bags; leather pouches; 3D printed models; and guitar picks. I walked away with some of those MtG custom art tokens and a peeker-style sticker of Asuka. Truly an interesting year in Artist Alley.
Walking the show floor felt a lot smoother this year than in years prior. I could more at a more relaxed pace, and never felt like I was stuck behind people except for a few moments in Artist Alley. Nothing you can do about that when everyone is flocking to the coolest art for sale.
I don’t know what Leftfield Media could do to improve Anime NYC more than the leaps made this year. The pre-registration for panels made getting into the most popular feel much smoother than in years prior. Artist Alley was more interesting than any year prior. Getting into the actual convention was a breeze. The best thing they could do is pray for better weather. NYC was blessed with a beautifully (and atypically) warm early November, only to return to the standard fare of 40 degree blustery late fall.
Until next year Anime NYC, Sayounara!