The first day of the inaugural New York Anime Festival was a busy one. Crowds were good for a brand new show on a cold, snowy day, which was, in the end, competing against Christmas shopping. That sounds like damning with faint praise, but there were people throughout the hall all day–all in all, one of the better showings for a new show we’ve seen in New York. Total attendance for the weekend is expected to be about 12-14,000, and everyone expects to be slammed today (Saturday.)

No real news we heard all day, The real experience of an anime show is for the fans, and shows generally have a “by fans for fans” feeling. Although this is a “commercial” show, as it is being run by Reed Exhibitions, the kids were in their crazy costumes (above) and seemed enthusiastic. We had to leave before the big masquerade, alas. A few more pictures in the jump.

At this booth, they were still busy manufacturing merch, and the sewing machine’s hum was heard all day!

This booth was plenty colorful–and LOUD.
Erin Finnegan had buttons saluting legendary Dark Horse editor Carl Horn.

The Comics Bakery crew represents.

At the Maid Cafe, young ladies in costume greeted customers.

This fellow is making a chalk sketch throughout the weekend.

ADV’s Chris Oarr and Appleseed: Ex Machina producer Joseph Chou.
There was actually a big Magic® tourney taking place down the hall. This White Angel (??? We know that’s wrong) greeted players.

Inside the Magic® competition. Feel the tension.


  1. Having never been to an anime con, is it common for them to be this diverse? I realize almost every publisher of comics has a manga line, and that the tribes overlap (the SciFi Channel pioneered anime). I don’t see much crossover at my store, even among guys. Customers either read the big American comics, or the medium Japanese comics. Sadly, they both get stolen equally.

  2. Heidi,

    I’m shocked that you could call the first day of the show “busy”. Attendance on day one was pitifully small and every retailer I spoke to expressed serious fears at the slow sales and overall malaise of the show.

    Even now, in the midst of Saturday, it’s a busy show attendance-wise but brutal for sales. Take a good look at the actual booths; people are filling the aisles but few are actually buying anything. They’re gobbling up free promotional material, taking photos and moving on. Every retailer I’ve spoken to today is disappointed at the browsing-vs-sales ratio so far.

  3. I dislike everything about anime ‘festivals’ in that they try to be different, yet related to comic books. All I hear about time after time are the dressed up people and the animated porn that is available.

  4. No Dealers Room guarantees that you will make a profit in it. Any show (comic, anime or Science Fiction’s) best guarantee for their dealers is that they will bring body’s to the show. It is up to the Dealers to do the right things to get people to buy. This is someone who has run a Dealers room at an anime con.

    Anime shows are different from Comic Book shows. Only NYCC or SDCC have the number of programming tracks of an Otakon. You can say SDCC has amongst the most programming of any event out there. That is one of the big differences between an Anime con and a Comic Book convention. I know Baltimore Comic Con has only two panel rooms besides the show floor. Baltimore Comic Con is also a show that has comics as their only thing.

  5. Tom,

    I agree with you that a Dealer’s Room is never a guarantee of profitability but if the vast majority of retailer’s aren’t doing well than there’s a problem. Cons need attendees and retailer support to thrive.

    Early December is a bad time for con sales. Even January would be better because at least then the target market would be flush with Christmas cash from their relatives.

  6. I almost never buy anything at anime cons, not because I don’t want to, but because there’s rarely anything worth buying — and nothing I can’t get much cheaper and/or in greater variety online. I think this is the real dilemma for dealers.

    Gone are the days when fans go to the dealers’ hall to find things they’ve never seen or had access to before. Dealers unsatisfied with their sales have to find a way to offer something new or give people a reason to immediately buy from them (e.g., as opposed to Amazon. eBay, etc.). Anime cons (especially small ones) seem worst at this. I’d rather spend my money in artists’ alley than pay top dollar for a DVD or manga I can get anywhere, anytime, for less. (This is another reason I would like to see more space given to artist alleys, which most cons seem to treat as annoying but necessary evils.)

    Show me the dojinshi. Show me a T-shirt every other booth doesn’t have. Don’t show me another spinner rack full of Death Note or Naruto headbands and then complain about low sales.

    I understand that’s a challenge, but it would make cons more fun for fans and more profitable for dealers.

  7. As someone who remembers when Anime first appeared here in US, I was disappointed that the entire fest seemed to cater entirely towards kids. But I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, either. This convention could have been interchangeable with those held in Kansas City or Dallas; so much for the vast resources of New York City.

    I had hoped to find even one table with merchandise that was geared towards adults with real discretionary income – rare vinyl or model kits (like MA.K. reissues) or uncommon imported media; the generation of people like myself who were the vanguard responsible for popularizing anime (and Japanese culture in general) would like to see. But as I passed table after table of Naruto headbands and other embarrassing, well, crap, it became clear that the internet (and trips to Tokyo) make these sorts of events a huge anachronism.

  8. I had high hopes for the NYAF with the amount of attendence of the comic shows held in the same place, and the traffic was abysmal on Friday and Sunday. Saturday there was a pick up, but as was mentioned before, nobody was buying comics.

    You saw people walking away with their swords or cute anime toys, but to see someone walking with a stack of mangas let alone comics was a rarity.

    Heidi has one point right, that for the more trafficked anime shows I’ve been to, the attitude of ‘buying from fans’ is a strong one. This show felt like a bad comic book show dressed in poorly fitted anime clothing.

    I’d like to do this show again, but I would definitely need to be convinced that the crowd is going to be stronger.

  9. I gotta say, I was hoping for much more at this show, considering its location. Sales on Friday and Sunday were abysmal for me and my friend Spike (www.templaraz.com) in Artist’s Alley. Saturday was okay, but far from enough to make up for the other two days.

    As for “nobody spending money at anime cons”, you obviously haven’t attended the anime cons in the Midwest. We do very well out here.

  10. does anyone know if they will be having another anime convention in 2008 in NY because I’ve never been to one and i really want to go

  11. does anyone know if they will be having another anime convention in 2008 in NY because I’ve never been to one and i really want to go to one