The New York Anime Festival (NYAF) is anticipating a significant launch when it opens its doors to the public on December 7th, 2007. While show officials acknowledge that it is still too early to accurately estimate the number of people who will attend, the early enthusiasm and anticipation for a New York City based anime event is, according to John McGeary, the Con Manager, “Both significant, and very real!” He notes: “We have been getting some great feedback about NYAF and we’re excited about our show. One of the key things we want to do is expand beyond anime specifically to embrace many aspects of Japanese culture. This will make our show unique and it will certainly make it popular to a broad community. The audience for anime and manga is already huge. By featuring many different elements of Japanese culture while still focusing on anime and capitalizing on the enormity of our New York City fan base, I’m feeling optimistic that we’ll have a very busy and stimulating event.”
The New York Anime Festival is owned and operated by Reed Exhibitions which successfully launched New York Comic Con in 2006. Key staff members, including McGeary, who were instrumental in the launch of NYCC and the second NYCC in 2007, are now working on the launch of NYAF. Convention organizers are using all their knowledge and lessons learned to successfully mount the new anime event. NYAF will be held December 7th – 9th at the Jacob K. Javits Center.
In total, NYAF is anticipating more than 120 exhibitors, including top “movers and shakers” such as: ADV Films, Bandai Entertainment, Central Park Media, FUNimation Entertainment, Media Blasters, Random House, Inc. (including the imprints Random House, Del Rey, and Pantheon), and TOKYOPOP. A few of the top cultural exhibitors participating in the festival include: Arise, which sells and exhibits rare kimono throughout the United States; CHUU, which offers authentic Japanese kimono; Greentea Designs, which provides Japanese furnishings and accents to contemporary American life; Japan External Trade Organization – JETRO, a Japanese government affiliated organization that promotes mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world; and Kujaku Trading, which is celebrating its 10th year in business and brings fine antique kimono to the United States.
“Expanding our exhibitor base is only one aspect of how we plan to bring Japanese culture to our festival,” McGeary continues. “We are also focused on strengthening our list of special guest appearances to include a broad range of personalities, and we are also staging special events that provide entertainment while satisfying cross-cultural interests. I think the fact that our festival occurs near the holidays, traditionally a time when New York City is packed with visitors eager for cultural enlightenment, will only add to the traffic and flow at our event.”
A small representative sample of some of the cultural guests include: David Kalat, film historian and author, with a deep interest in Japanese cinema, who recently wrote a book about the Japanese horror film genre; Joanne Izbicki, who teaches East Asian History at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York; Brooklyn Go Club, a community of Go players which has been meeting in Brooklyn since 1978; HAPPYFUNSMILE, a musical group performing an eclectic mix of Japanese folk songs, ballads, and festival rhythms; Samurai Sword Soul, a theater company which is dedicated to spreading Bushi-Do, the Way of the Samurai; Timothy Sullivan, who tackles the vast subject of sake culture on the website UrbanSake.com, which has become a resource for sake information across the U.S.; and Yoshi Amao, an actor, entertainer and swordsman, who has appeared in films, been a guest on leading TV shows including The Today Show and Saturday Night Live, and leads the theater company, Samurai Sword Soul.
As for a few of the cultural events at NYAF, they include: The Anime Network Maid Café, a genuine Japanese-style maid café in the heart of New York City; Haiku Contest, a competition between contemporary American poets trying their hand at this ancient Japanese style; Kimono Gallery, a selection of some of the most beautiful and valuable kimono in America; Ninja: Myth Meets Reality, a panel which looks at the misconceptions of the ninja, where they came from, and sorts out what’s real and what’s based on pure myth; and Samurai and Feudal Japan, a
panel which explores the Japanese past and which exposes the sometimes harsh realities of Japan’s feudal age.
“These are just some examples of what we are putting together, and there will be much more to come, but this certainly illustrates the direction that we are going in and I hope it indicates what will make NYAF a unique experience,” McGeary concludes. “There will be a lot to do and see at our show and it will be a very rich and rewarding experience, on a multitude of levels.”