As I crossed the street to Javits, I was immediately approached-- "HEY! YEAH, YOU! OVER THERE!"-- by a pack of folks in snazzy Sega jackets. For a moment, I thought:
"It's finally happening! Sega is recruiting me to fight evil alongside Segata Sanshiro, just like in The Last Starfighter!"
But they were just handing out ads for Valkyria Chronicles in the pouring rain, god bless their hearts. I don't blame them at all for rushing people to get these things out of their hands: I wouldn't have wanted to be out there all day either. This game would already be on my list, except for I don't have a PS3. More than anything, I really wanted to know if they sold those jackets. I didn't ask. I should have.
Inside, where it was dry, NYAF was more or less the same as it was last time. Big for-profit con, so there's not too much to do but hit the dealer's room. Indeed, I could have slept an hour or two later, as nothing was even scheduled for the first hour and a half of the con but the opening ceremonies.
The biggest problem, as we're going to see over and over again, is that the con just doesn't have a lot of room. The Javits Center is huge, but there's only so much space there that the convention can actually afford to use. So you get a much smaller experience compared to the out-of-state cons, which likely spend far less money. This is the price we pay for having a convention in NYC. The only reason it really feels worth the money is that it's local: I definitely wouldn't pay for out-of-state transportation and a weekend in a NYC hotel just to come to this con when, for example, Anime Weekend Atlanta was just last week.
the dealers' room suffered for all this: there was really very little
that wasn't readily available online, but I did nearly buy a bunch of
vinyl kaiju figures from this really cool booth that was playing Soldier Dream from Saint Seiya. About half of the stuff being sold was just the obnoxious kid-accessories that now characterize the anime con: the yaoi paddle, the cat ears, you know.
On top of that, tables must have been really expensive for people, because the markup at a lot of tables was serious. Kinokuniya
was nearly the worst offender, selling everything they had for 30% more
than you could get it for if you just took the subway to 42nd and
walked into their store. Honorable mention goes to Toy Tokyo, which is
usually overpriced anyway, but never quite to this degree: I took a Galaxy Express 999 UFO catcher toy
(having seen it online for $15) to the register and was told it was
fifty bucks. Jesus! Wonderful place to visit, but it's always a bad idea to actually buy there. Also, I got yelled at at Image Anime because I
asked about an eventual Diamond US release of the Fist of the North
Star Revoltechs. Pretty surreal experience.
I have to give the "hahaha oh wow" prize to the import game seller,
though. Now we all know how used import game selling works: you get a
lot of cheap stuff from Japan and turn it around to Americans at a con
for exorbitant markup. It's been that way for years. This guy's mistake
was that after he raided Softmap, he left the price tags on. 300¥ Neo Geo copies of Samurai Spirits on the table for $25? Believe it!
Also, there was an android Realdoll dressed up like a Persocom from
Chobits on the table, and it moved, and it creeped the shit out of
pretty much everyone. Just sayin'.
The maid cafe was moved from its previous out-of-the-way location to
the back and middle of the dealer's room, making it actually a
reasonable setup. Serving food was still off-limits, but candy was not.
We actually spent about an hour here: we knew a maid. On Saturday, when the crowd got really thick, this became one of the centers for attention whores and screaming
kids, to the point where you'd be sitting behind a crowd of hug-me sign
holders and constantly-squealing yaoi fangirls.
Speaking of which, I just want to throw in a note of appreciation for the anti-dumbass rules that Otakon has established over the years. Good old-fashioned rules like "no hug me signs, you desperate shits", "stop it with the paddles already", and "stop running in circles screaming and swinging wooden swords at each other" were never so sorely missed. Walking through the main hall on Saturday, I was confronted with everything obnoxious and terrible that fan-run cons have seen fit to get rid of. It was a sea of TRUTH. Also, Anonymous has really fallen a long way: imagine a bunch of kids in V masks being attention whores by doing all of the obnoxious anime fan shit as well as all the obnoxious 4channer shit. They were actually far, far worse than the regular attendees. A little sad to see something I was into go so sour.
Of course, I did spend a couple of hours hanging out at Poots-chan's table
at the Artists' Alley. See, we had a maid too! I made a couple of
flyers about the blog for the event, reaching to my key demographics of
"anime fans who loathe anime" and "FUTAE NO KIWAMI! AAAAAAAH!" I'll scan them or something and you can print them up and give them to your friends. There are plenty of ultra-limited Badass Manly T-Shirts for you to buy: that post is coming soon too.
The showings and the panels suffered from the space problem too:
Watching the movie cut of Gunbuster, the audio had to compete with the
screaming fangirls watching Ouran Host Club across the hall and the concert going on immediately outside, which supplied the film's score whether we wanted it to or not.
As for panels, I caught the latter half of the anime blogger panel
(polishing my craft here, guys) and the hentai dubbing panel, which alternated between the knee-slapping and the cringe-worthy. Good times! Would go again! The only stage performances I caught were Shogun Macbeth-- which I'm seriously going
to go see when they actually put the show on-- and the Byakokan Dojo
guys, who put on a pretty rad demonstration with live steel while
calmly talking about exactly what organs are torn apart by the cut
Friday night, we (as in me and Carl of Ogi Maniax and one of our buddies) totally forgot about the Vertical Inc. panel, which I kind of regret. They were promoting Black Jack pretty heavily: they were giving away a hardcover copy at the panel and handing out awesome-as-hell syringe pens in the dealer's room. Anyway, we opted out of the con altogether to sing super robot karaoke at one of the places in the area. King Gainer? We did it. Holy Lonely Night? We did it. Japanese Pokerap? Carl did it. Segata Sanshiro? We fuckin' did it. Baldios? OF COURSE.
"HEY ANIME FAN
GREAT, SO DO I"
This got a mixed reaction from passers-by, obviously, but the people who got it were happy to see it and had a good laugh. By the end of the con we had given out about all of them, and I made a lot. Towards the end, a cosplayer approached me, perplexed. How could I hate anime, he asked me, if I was here? I told him that once you love anime enough, you eventually get deep enough to hate it too. I guaranteed him that if he kept digging, he would get there one day too. He didn't understand then, but I think he'll thank me in a couple years.