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Friday, October 15, 2010

NYAF, the redheaded stepchild of NYCC?

Feel the Love

As many of you already know, there were two major East Coast convention taking place at the Javits Convention Center in New York City last weekend. Or at least, there were supposed to be two conventions. New York Comic Con, the biggest convention on the East Coast was hosted along side of the New York Anime Festival. This was a result of ReedPop's plan to merge the two conventions. A total of 96 THOUSAND people attended the combined convention. New York Anime Fest found itself secluded in a small basement area while New York Comic Con took over the rest of the convention center.

Why would you do that?

So was NYAF really the redheaded stepchild of NYAF? It's hard to say that since NYAF is usually in the basement area anyway and that there were still as much NYAF programming as usual... or at least that is what Lance Fensterman claims. However, I noticed that in fact there was less room than usual for the NYAF convention floor minus the dealers. NYAF took place on the other side of the convention where the cell signal is even worse than the other side as well as fewer rooms for use. Still, ReedPop had their priorities, since at least 70% of the attendees came for NYCC and not NYAF. So NYAF got the shorter end of the stick.

NYAF opening ceremonies and the 10 people there to see it

But overall, the convention experience was still fairly enjoyable since there were some decent and interesting guests such as Minori Chihara (well known as Yuki Nagato) and the creators of VOCALOID. The programming had absolutely no gaps where nothing was going on. And even if you were not interested in screenings or panels, NYCC had a lot going on at the showroom floor. What sort of made this experience a chore, was the massive crowding on Saturday. I didn't even attempt to get through the exhibition hall (dealer's room) because it was just insane. The lack of cell signal in the basement didn't help things especially when you wanted to look up the schedule or live tweet during panels.

Feel the wrath of Minori Chihara's laser eyes!

Looking back to NYAF 2009 I noticed some disturbing things. First of all, I did not see ANY workshops in the programming for 2010. Although there were screenings, in 2009, there were so many more. Since NYCC is supposed to be a family friendly con, almost all 18+ programming was cut. I am not even going to mention LARP. So it's pretty obvious that this year's NYAF was shrunk due to NYCC's enormous size. It also came to my attention that the amount of dealers that usually sell at NYAF has shrunk and were not present for NYCC/NYAF. I am not sure if this was because they either couldn't afford it, or perhaps ReedPop allocated only a number of tables for anime-centric dealers.

If that looks crowded, keep in mind that it's only Friday.

So what can ReedPop do to not make NYAF look like an embarrassment? For starters, they need to restore NYAF back to its previous size. Perhaps use some of linecon's (the space used for lining up to get in) mostly unused space to allow for this. Put it back to where it usually takes place since the cell signal there wasn't so bad. The crowding in the anime/manga spaces at the exhibition floor was unbearable, they need to allocate more space for walking/browsing as well as allow for more anime merchandise tables. That's really all they need to do.

The "linecon" area shown here, is empty during the rest of the convention. Perhaps it can be utilized in the future.

If you want to know more about what happened at NYAF, check out Janaiblog's great post on it.