A popular local and longtime friend of ours Mario Bueno, weighed in what has now become of NYAF. It’s quite the good read.
So here’s my two cents on the situation with New York Anime Fest…
TO PREFACE: THESE OPINIONS ARE MINE, AND MINE ALONE. I DO NOT speak for anyone from ReedPop, nor do I WORK for ReedPop, so please bear this in mind. It’s no secret that I have developed a good professional relationship with members of ReedPop over the years because of the work I’ve put in both as a fan of Anime and as a regular industry volunteer, but please do NOT mistake that as any sort of formal/informal employment with the company.
THAT BEING SAID…
As many of you know, NYAF has been 100% integrated into the New York Comic Con. Since the announcement of the show merger in 2010, we all knew this was a huge likelyhood. However, due to the efforts of people like Peter Tatara (who was the reason we had NYAF at all…be sure to thank him next con you see him at, BTW ^_~), the event was still allowed to operate as it’s own show within the framework of the larger event. So, when this integration was announced, we all, at the outset, scream and do the Batman “MY [CON IS] DEEEEAD” thing. Because, yes, on the surface this means we don’t have a dedicated anime event in NYC anymore. What this DOESN’T mean is that we don’t have a forum in which the fandom can still be celebrated. To recap the highlights from the ReedPop article:
- Anime is still a part of NYCC. Obviously.
- Because anime is still a part of NYCC and NYCC is mushrooming more each year, that means we can get more awesome anime guests (TMR in 2008 is my strongest case for this; the ReedPop blog lists more examples as well).
- It also increases the likelihood of even more big exclusives from the anime world being debuted/screened/etc in our backyard.
- Anime industry is STILL going to be there doing things and showing things and selling things, etc.
In short, we still have anime at the show. We will still have anime industry at the show. We can still be lol!anime at the show. This has not changed.
Sadly, there are other things that HAVE changed, in particular the loss of a dedicated Saturday masquerade (with the daily costume contests still remaining to allow for costume display) and a DRAMATIC reduction in dedicated anime programming that isn’t industry-related. While it is SUPER unfortunate, especially for someone like me who thrived on events like Saturday Masquerade and the ability to do stage performances specifically geared for the anime audience, the reality is with a show this packed with content, there need to be sacrifices made. I know I (and many others who participated in masquerade last year) suffered badly because of the need for the studios to get their time in the main events space, and believe me when I say that every effort WAS made to try and give us our fair share…
…It’s just hard to tell a studio like, oh say, FOX that an event where the anime kids who want to wear their homemade costumes and do skits is FAR more important/interesting than a panel/screening for a crappy show that got cancelled anyway. ;-P
(Sorry, Fox; I love you guys and all, but I’m just saying. It was a dick move, and that show was awful. Thanks for renewing Touch, though! <3)
That said, with a show like this and because of the way the venue works, there’s little else that can be done. And frankly, I’d think we’d all rather have no show than a crappy/half-assed one that we’d all bitch about later anyway. Pretty sure I’m not alone in this sentiment either.
I realize that, to those who prefer the “pure” anime con experience no amount of justification will ease the sting of this transition. I realize that not everyone will be happy continuing on with the (at times) combative dynamic that comes when the anime fandom runs parallel to the entertainment world.
What I do know is, this is not the end of Anime Fandom in New York. Not by a longshot.
As people who live here know, there are MANY opportunities in New York City on a yearly basis for anime fans to celebrate their fandom. As time goes on, I know more will pop up, and while there’s a chance that none will probably reach the scale of Big Apple Anime Fest/AXNY (2001-2003) or New York Anime Festival, the fact that the vibrant community still will exist in the city, and still remain passionate, social, and vocal is proof enough that with the “death” of one event, the life of the fandom will still continue on.
So yes, let us mourn the second coming of a true New York Anime convention, but let’s also understand that the show that allowed it to even be spawned is growing and evolving into a place that ALL forms of entertainment media are being housed under. And while this evolution may be scary/frustrating/annoying, there is so much good that can come from it. And because there are still people who will champion the fandom from within this behemoth of a show, there will always be a place for someone who appreciates Japanese animation.
I encourage you guys to share this (or even tidbits of it) elsewhere as this is meant to be an open message to fans of the show who may want a perspective from someone who has seen both sides of the equation and is coming from a more grassroots position.
It’s been fun being a part of the New York Anime Festival, and I’m grateful for everything that it has done for me since it’s inception, and all the new friends/fans I’ve been able to make along the way since then. I look forward to what will come next and how the evolution of NYCC will enhance the opportunities American anime fans will have on this side of the country.
RIP, NYAF. Long live Anime in New York City.