NEW YORK – The three-day Anime NYC 2017 convention at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, powered by Crunchyroll, from November 17-19, was an exciting treat for fans of popular comics and films from Japan, with tons of entertainment like video and card games, panel discussions, special screenings, and concert, on the sidelines. There was plenty of merchandise to choose from. Vendors did brisk business, especially on manga comics, mystery bags, T-shirts and DVDs.
The tremendous turnout for the meet saw hundreds of attendees dress up diligently in their favorite cosplay costumes – a much more intricate, complex and painstaking work than mere Thanksgiving attire – with a bevy of stars of different genres of anime present on location to pose for photos and sign autographs, for dazzled fans.
For fans, dressing up in cosplay is a passionate and committed way to show huge appreciation for favorite comics and films.
For the uninitiated, the word anime, in Japanese, means hand-drawn or computer animation, with the earliest commercial Japanese animation dating back to 1917, according to Wikipedia. The characteristic anime art style emerged in the 1960s with the works of Osamu Tezuka and spread internationally in the late twentieth century.
With over 430 production studios, including major names like Studio Ghibli, Gainax, and Toei Animation, anime are often classified by target demographic, including kodomo (children’s), shōjo (girls’), shōnen (boys’) and a diverse range of genres targeting an adult audience, including ‘hentai’, or pervert as Japanese term it.
The anime industry is expanding at a rapid pace. It dominates film production revenue in Japan: the Association of Japanese Animations reported that in 2016 the anime industry reached a milestone of 2.9 trillion yen (about $25.5 billion).
Anime NYC was organized by LeftField Media, whose founder, Greg Topalian, had earlier created the New York Comic Con. For three years, from 2007-2009, there was a New York Anime Festival, which later merged with the New York Comic Con in 2010. This year, Peter Tatara also was the main organizer, along with Topalian.
It was a satisfying meet for Crunchyroll, as fans lined up during the meet at their booth to pick up some free bags – Yuri!!! On ICE, Boruto, Dragon Ball Super, The Ancient Magus’ Bride, and Kabaneri. There was also keen interest to get hold of merchandise like Mob Psycho 100 and My Hero Academia.
The premiere of the Fullmetal Alchemist live-action film and a Gundam concert featuring three anime divas – Yoko Ishida, Chihiro Yonekura, and TRUE, were packed. The most common grouse of fans was the small size of the screening rooms, which was not able to accommodate all who wanted to get in. The IDOLiSH7 and Sailor Moon panels were a big draw too.
The feature of the meet was a great sense of bonhomie. There was plenty of mutual respect and admiration among attendees. For a brief time, attendees surely felt the surge of excitement they felt watching films and reading manga comics come delightfully alive, in a surreal way, before them.
Earlier this month, there was another anime festival in Long Island – the Hampton’s 20th annual NekoCon. It also featured a live cooking competition where students of ECPI University’s Culinary Institute of Virginia participated in a cooking competition based on Japanese animation show “The Cooking Show.”
In India, anime caught on in the 70s, and a growing fan base in some cities like Mumbai and Delhi saw a DTH channel Animax Asia feature some popular anime. However, it didn’t last long and was reportedly shut down due to low subscription base and financial woes. Comic con meets in India are highly popular though, with the latest edition in Mumbai held last week, which featured a cosplay competition.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)