The title says it all; I went to this con and it has its ups and downs. Given that it’s now part of the national news cycle, this is a good time to talk about it. Thanks to the Crave team for hosting my review on the site! All opinions expressed in this piece are, shocker, entirely my own. We’ll get to the recent news soon, but moreover I wanted to give a balanced account of my
findings and help illustrate what it was really like. It’s easy to start catastrophizing knowing what happened, but the facts are gonna help tighten this and many other shows up for 2022.

I did wanna say as well that this review isn’t judgmental in nature. Much of the article is observational and while we have to talk about the good and bad, I hold no ill will against the proceedings and such. I went in with an open mind and flexible expectations for the weekend.

The nature of conventions is still pretty contentious in late ’21, as it should be. Taking accountability for health and safety should be much more of a priority these days. So, I wanted to disclose the factors associated with me going. The recent news just emphasizes the importance of transparency. My decision to attend wasn’t a snap decision, but I was waffling on whether to take the plunge. Generally, it seemed like a fair risk for me to take. Me and my friends were already vaccinated and had optimal conditions to self isolate, just in case. I got a booster a few days prior as well.

I only went on Saturday and Sunday, but I felt as though I had a good sense of the general strengths and weakness for the three days. Though I did catch a potent air of ‘linecon’ at certain points in time, this was still a relatively enjoyable experience comparable to other, bigger events.

I think there’s significant attention owed to ANYC’s management for the year. The state of the pandemic has likely made it difficult – albeit rewarding – to jump straight back into proceedings after skipping a year or two in person. That being said, it was pulled off fairly well here.

Apparently, attendance jumped from 46k to 53k. While this doesn’t seem like a sizable jump, it obviously had a tangible effect on the flow of the con. Combined with the lack of field experiences from ’20 and the lack of preparation and we have a contentious con experience…

Lining up late Saturday morning to get in went smoothly. They decided to queue everyone in on the same line until they were much closer to the entrance, at which point they split everyone into three smaller lines. One for badge pickup and vaxx verification and two others for people just
lacking one of those items. It took almost an hour for me to get in, with a badge on hand and waiting to grab a wristband to verify vaccination status. Not too shabby for the Javits. Of course Sunday had a much lighter flow, but the difference between the two days was more polarizing than usual. Even the food courts weren’t being mobbed by the final day. This was nothing
extraordinary by itself, but it was fascinating in retrospect due to the massive backups that occurred on Friday.

Safety is of important note; aside from juggling COVID restrictions, conventions this year are still in charge of keeping everyone safe from all the other potential dangers a con can attract. AnimeNYC’s detail seemed a bit lacking, but the real issue was the organizational piece.

Friday’s kerfuffle with the lines dramatically changed their plans, which led to a change in security circulation and distribution. The spread of detail seemed really uneven in pockets the days I attended. Often, they felt more lacking than not. I only had my bag checked once my whole time there.

Considering how fast word spread regarding Friday, it would’ve been easy for someone to sneak in and cause chaos. Whatever security was present inside seemed busy taking care of panel queues. Not their fault of course, it was staff’s responsibility to set them up for success. I
can imagine that formal staff were running around trying to rebound from Friday. All the same, it would be encouraging to see more of them around the con itself. Only time I saw a staff member was at the end of Sunday, trying to figure out who’d get an autograph from an overflow queue.

Some staff and crew members were supposed to be milling around offering assistance if need be. Crew, otherwise known as the ‘red shirts’ were amazing; they easily got the shortest end of the stick and the most flac from a worn down attendance base. Yet they remained kind, cool and collected all three days. They were the real MVPs.

There seemed to be a lack of panels this year (understandably so). The few marquee events they hosted had a harder time trying to accommodate everyone than usual. The stories from the One Piece screening alone could fill a light novel. Guest appearances also contributed to traffic gridlock, with the configuration of the show floor pacing autograph lines to the side of a relatively packed exhibition hall.

The vibe of ANYC seemed mostly disconnected from the rest of our current post-pandemic reality. Other than the masking, there weren’t many overt protections in play. Everyone seemed to be good at following mask rules from what I’d seen. That said, there didn’t seem to be anyone going around to enforce them though.

Social distancing was non-existent. The folks working the queue outside didn’t have time to really look at vaxx cards. Didn’t catch many places to cop some hand sanitizer or get a mask from convention officials. It was like every other con, with the vague haze of precarious abandon.

I think in other circumstances, the recent news of the 2nd documented US Omicron patient would be received a bit better. It’s likely that the region was already crawling with the variant before they tested positive. Of course, it doesn’t exactly aid the con’s image to be wrapped up in it, especially given how their COVID protocol was executed.

Upon self reflection, I didn’t feel as if I was staring at any bell ringing, red flag raising, clear and imminent dangers at AnimeNYC, but the smaller nuances, compounded with this announcement, left me in a vague haze of uncertainty. The what if’s outnumber the tangible infractions at the moment.

The three of us were cosplaying as the three musketeers of Miraculous: Ladybug, Chat Noir and Chat Blanc. Plenty of people stopped us for pictures, some of them seemingly not even old enough to be vaccinated. It was late Saturday when we realized how many kids were at this COVID era anime con. In hindsight, the imbalances in the safety measures were a bit more jarring with really young attendees in mind. It’s always a calculated risk to attend but the space was primed for an accident. Luckily nothing (else) popped off, but there were plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong.

I was late enough to the punch that the con was able to address some of these elements on social media. So, at the least, we likely won’t see the exact same set of issues for 2022. Their biggest crime was just underestimating their audience; when shit went wrong, they were self aware enough to course correct.

In summation, I’d say my time at ANIME NYC was well spent despite the logistical hiccups. It’s hard to deny that there weren’t glaring deficiencies in certain areas, but for a COVID era experiment, they more or less have a passing grade. There aren’t many concrete answers as to how to tackle shows like these yet, but it seems like flexibility is key. Whether as an attendee, vendor, panelist, or the head honcho of the convention, having a decent amount of options in your back pocket could quite literally become a lifesaver. Having room to make contingency plans without leaving other people high and dry is going to make or break the rebound of the
con circuit. If you’re thinking of heading to your local con in the near future, give yourself a lot of wiggle room. Be prepared, but have fun doing it.

I hope you enjoyed this review; thanks again to the Cartoon Crave team for hosting this write-up. Any further questions about the con or my experiences can be sent over to my business email:

Thanks for reading!

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