Anime NYC 2021: The Best of an Interesting Time

I was thrilled to get the opportunity to cover AnimeNYC. The convention has grown rapidly over the course of its short run. It’s hard to believe that the event is just in its third year. 

AnimeNYC began with about 20,000 attendees in 2017. According to the convention.  53,000 attendees participated in 2021’s event. There’s always great guests to look forward to, along with the huge exhibitor hall and variety of panels to attend. But I feel that social media did play a major part in its growth, with smaller events and deals the con offered throughout the year. Other conventions in this area also teamed up with AnimeNYC to spread the word about the event, which likely played a part in attendance numbers. 

Did I enjoy the con? I did have a good weekend, seeing friends and enjoying the convention atmosphere, one I really missed. I was able to see friends in person for the first time in ages! Friends can really add to a convention experience. Like many conventions, I wandered the convention hall, taking in the sights. There were a variety of cosplays and I was excited to see some of my favorite characters I saw a Mew Ichigo from Tokyo Mew Mew  as well as a Retasu,  a Sailor Cosmos, and a cosplayer who put a unique spin on Sailor Moon by knitting her wig. 

 Some areas  were moved again this year. The cosplay changing room and meetups were switched to the fourth level, where artist alley once was located. In order to get to the meetups, attendees walk through the tabletop gaming room. I liked this move overall. Meetups were spacious without impacting the main con floor and traffic. Signs also showed when meetups took place, as well! I looked for arcade games on the same floor, though it looked like the con did not offer them this year. I hope that they return in 2022. On the other hand, I was not a big fan of the long walk to the meetups from tabletop gaming, the convention does take attendee feedback and I’m curious if they’ll tweak this layout a bit more in the future. 

Security was a mixed bag. Some guards were very helpful.  I had a tough time finding press badges on the first day, though one of the managers in security (he was super nice), saw that I was lost and walked me over to the area. But as the event progressed, there were very few, if any, bag checks that were enforced by security.  I also heard of some attendees putting their proof of vaccination, a wrist band, on their props or  badges and were not stopped by security or staff to correct this. I also was not asked to show my ID with my vaccine card. Bag checks are critical for larger events and have often been an issue with this convention, with lack of detailed checking– or even  not mandating checks at all. With the lack of checks in mind, as well as lax handling of wrist bands, I was rather worried at times as I went along the convention area. Even though I did have a good time, this piece is critical for the convention to address moving forward. 

That will segway into the problems which occurred on Friday. 

I was not in the area until Friday evening and heard that many attendees waited in line for several hours outside. It is worth noting that the con did offer the opportunity to pick up badges on both Wednesday and Thursday, there was a noticeable lack of guidance for attendees waiting. Although larger conventions do traditionally have long lines, it did concern me that there were many issues and frustrated attendees.

 Usually waiting in lines is normal for many conventions, but there were not enough staff to monitor the lines and attendees also missed out on events. There were also major problems regarding accessibility. Attendees with disabilities struggled to get their accessibility passes. I heard people’s stories about this and grew very worried. The convention acknowledged the problems attendees had  through social media and there were improvements over the weekend in terms of entry. The communication included a map throughout various platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The con  also apologized for the experience attendees had. I wanted to wait for a few days after the event before writing: attendees who reached out to the convention about Friday’s issues will receive refunds. There seems to be a deadline for this and I will update this post accordingly if an exact date is released. 

 The convention did acknowledge areas where improvements can be made and (in my opinion), did give good customer service to those who had a poor experience. The event does want to improve and takes feedback into account. 

So, I planned on going to the con on Friday at 3:30. We didn’t arrive until two hours after. But my younger sibling drove me to the bus stop and I grabbed a crepe.  I was happy to spend time with my little brother on the way to the convention and enjoy one of my favorite foods. Check-in at the hotel was quick. Elevators were a bit finicky at times, but this is the norm during conventions. 

One part of the convention I looked forward to definitely was stopping by artist alley. I enjoy supporting indie brands and meeting talented creators in person. More on that in a little bit! 

 I went into the exhibitor hall in the artist alley section to quickly meet up with my friend. There was so much going on in this hall, with booths selling items from shirts, to plushies, figures, and other imported merchandise. I ended up arriving around 6:30 at the hall, which is just a bit before closing, and made a mental note to dedicate a few hours the next day to browsing. I felt quite tired by then from all of the travel and rested up for the next day.

So much happened on Saturday. I woke up early in the morning and put on a casual cosplay, then went over to the con center with espresso in hand. I made fanart for a webcomic artist and handed it to her in person after finding her table. The artist was thrilled and featured me on one of her instagram stories. This was really kind and humbling. Cons really give myself and many others  the opportunity to share great interactions. I visited other artists, having quick conversations. They were all really sweet, though looked quite busy! I heard from artists that they did well at this convention due to high attendance numbers.  I purchased a few new t-shirts and some keychains for a display in my room. It’s been becoming the norm for me to spend a lot of time in artist alley at cons.

This is one of the rare instances in cons where I didn’t attend much in terms of events or panels, with the exception of the masquerade. I tried going to one panel about cooking. It was quite a popular panel and people were in an overflow line. Attendees appeared to sit on the floor in one of the panel rooms due to the unexpected popularity. The panel location was very overwhelming and hard to follow.   I ended up in the overflow line an hour before the event and ended up leaving to go to a Bandori cosplay meetup. This meetup was organized by Bandori East Coast on Facebook. Bandori is a rhythm game and anime with beautiful character designs. There was a decent turn out and many Hagumi cosplayers!  I also went to part of the Touhou Project meetup. Going to the Touhou meet made me want to give the games a try again…

The masquerade was fantastic. A DJ played a great selection of music before the show, some nostalgic songs, others more modern.The audience had so much energy during popular songs, dancing along to the beat. Some attendees even brought over penlights.  The DJ goes by the handle DJ Senpai. I loved his takes on popular and nostalgic songs. His great music choices helped the audience get ready and pumped for the show. 

Genshin Impact seemed to be a popular choice during this convention. I do not play this game currently (but plan on getting it when it comes out for the Switch), but the designs are very lovely! 

 One of my favorite skits was from a group of Guilty Kiss cosplayers. They danced to the song New Romantic Sailors. There ended up being a fantastic  combination and balance  of both walk-on and skits. 

The masquerade ended the convention on a high note. Although I wanted to participate in the event on Sunday, I was rather exhausted by then! But I stopped by Kinokuniya Books on the way back, picking up a Christmas gift for a friend and adorable stationery. The store did sell AnimeNYC tickets and was well stocked to meet demands of the event. 

Would I go back to AnimeNYC? I had a good time with great company. However, there are a few key aspects which are very important for the con to address moving forward, such as bag checks and accessibility issues. The convention is growing rapidly, especially when compared to its first year. I want to attend in the future to see how the convention improves, but may skip a year as the con considers feedback from attendees. 

AnimeNYC  will take place next year on November 18th-20th.


CinnaKnight has been in the convention-scene for over a decade! C.K. runs on candy, coffee, and sometimes ...chaos! She's an avid writer, foodie, and a big fan of the Kirby franchise. She will also remind you to hydrate and almost always has safety pins and Advil handy.

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