Jason Borelli, our longstanding convention reporter, writes for Bleeding Cool,
I like anime. I don’t know if I could qualify as an otaku, mostly because I don’t see much from that genre. Still, I have been attending anime conventions for years, and it’s usually fun, especially if you like looking at cosplayers. I think the ratio between them and non-costumed patrons is lower than at a “regular” convention.
For me, 2016 called for adjustments. My steady show was AnimeNEXT, a three-day show in Somerset, NJ, but it outgrew the area and moved south to Atlantic City, which was too far a drive for me. Anime Fan Fest filled the void (which I wrote about), but the results were underwhelming. Needless to say, I was not surprised to see a second edition canceled for 2017. A few months later, I attended the second annual Liberty City Anime Con, which had moved from White Plains, NY, to Manhattan . . . specifically, Times Square. While it scratched my itch, I was a little underwhelmed. For one thing: does anybody refer to New York as “Liberty City”? Also, I got my ticket before discovering that Flame Con, a two-day LGBTQ-friendly show, was taking place in Brooklyn for two days, and that might have been a better option. Of course, I did the same thing this year. Sometimes, I never learn. To compound matters, Anime NYC is set to debut at the Jacob Javits Center – a much larger venue – in November.
The good news is that LCAC upped its game this past weekend, moving to the Marriot Marquis on Broadway. While the events were spread out over several floors, there felt like there was more there. The only action away from the Marriot were events held at Edison Ballroom, but that was a block away. Also, anybody walking up Broadway could check out two billboards promoting the upcoming Death Note adaptation from Netflix, which shows that anime is slowly seeping into the American pop culture mainstream. Yes, that includes Ghost In The Shell cratering at the box office. One thing: Times Square is an unusual setting for an anime convention. With so many people walking, the cosplayers and other otaku are harder to spot. Also, there are the people dressed as cartoon characters looking for tips for photos. That isn’t cosplay. That’s more like coswork. Yes, I got that from The Venture Bros.
There were a few hitches. For one thing, the viewing schedule differed from what was online and printed in the program. Also, they took place on the sixteenth floor, and there was a circular walk involved to get there. On the bright side, I saw stuff that I would not have looked for, including the first two episodes of Yuri on Ice, a figure skating anime with gay overtones that has taken the world by storm. It helps that the theme music – “History Maker” by Dean Fujioka – is an infectious earworm.
There were other small problems, like the imported video games not arriving until after Friday, leaving players to make do with console games. While the vendors’ room had lots to offer, nobody was selling manga. I also spent half of Friday convinced that a small room held all the artists, when more were placed in a larger room. On the bright side, most of the artists’ rates were cheap; I wound up getting seven sketches, none above $30. While I don’t consider myself that big a fan, I did meet with voice actors Chuck Huber and Marcus Stimac, as well as Corrine Sudberg, a.k.a. “Megami33,” from Team Four Star’s popular Dragon Ball Z Abridged. The imported video games showed Japan’s unique tastes, including Super Table Flip, which is basically what it sounds like. The panels were informative for the most part, though the thing they stuck with me was watching the evolution of anime opening credits, and seeing Astro Boy knock out bad guys wearing pointed hoods.
Naturally, the cosplayers were out in force. It’s always fun to see characters portrayed from anime that you just got into. The details of the costumes varied, but the love was usually there. There’s nothing like asking a woman about where she got her plush slug, and then finding out it took one day for her to make it.
I wrapped up the weekend at Edison Ballroom, watching The Asterplace, a J-Rock band performing original material and covers. There’s something unique about hearing a live version of “The Hero!! ~Ikareru Ken ni Honō o Tsukero~,” better known as the theme of the One-Punch Man anime. They also played covers of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Gangham Style” and “Blitzkrieg Bop,” in additional to their own songs.
While the specter of Anime NYC looming larger, Liberty City Anime Con has shown that it can hold its own In New York. While I am still interested in attending Flame Con next year, I am hoping that won’t conflict with LCAC, because hitting two good cons is better than skipping one.