Anime NYC brings Japanese pop culture to Javits

Otakus and Japanophiles, rejoice — a new anime- and Japanese culture-centered convention in New York City is debuting in November with a “ramen summit,” a “Sailor Moon” day, a 200-booth marketplace and several U.S. anime premieres.

There have been other anime festivals and events around town, including at Comic Con, but Anime NYC is made by and for anime, manga and Japanese culture fans, Nov. 17 to 19 at the Javits Center, aims to celebrate the best of Japanese animated stories (anime) and graphic novels (manga).

“Anime is something perpetually just below mainstream, and it’s a massive, legitimate business with a huge following,” Peter Tatara, the vice president of anime events at LeftField Media and a self-proclaimed otaku, or big fan, said, adding that the con will give the city what it’s wanted for a long time.

“It’s something we don’t talk about because it’s a little bit too weird … but it’s right there. This is an opportunity to build a cool, colorful event that will be a community for its audience and a platform for the publishing base.”

Over three days, the festival will offer 100 hours’ worth of panels, talks and discussions, including a chat among 10 members of the American cast of “Sailor Moon Crystal,” a roundtable “ramen summit” about best practices and its popularization, and a talk by anime industry experts who have worked with CrunchyRoll, the Netflix of anime, according to Tatara.

A special U.S. premiere of “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” will screen, accompanied by a live soundtrack played by a full jazz band and conductor from Japan, and three singers known for theme songs like that of “Ah! My Goddess,” “Soul Hunter,” and “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.”

Of course, any anime convention is incomplete without cosplay – and attendees are encouraged to dress up as their favorite characters and enter a contest.

“You’ll stand out if you’re not in costume,” Tartara said.

There will also 200 booths of merchandise, and 20 Japanese arcade machines – including “DanceDanceRevolution,” “Street Fighter V” and “Taiko no Tatsujin”  – available to play for free.

“What separates this from anything else going on – Comic Con is about comic books – this is about Japanese animation, comics, movies, TV shows, toys, games and food … anything and everything quirky, nerdy and cool from Japan,” Tatara said. “And there will be so much swag.”

This kind of convention hasn’t been held in the city, despite the interest in the past few years because it takes a lot of backing and planning, organizers said. It took LeftField Media, which organizes the Washington, D.C., and Portland Comic Cons, a full year to plan Anime NYC. 

“There’s always been that hunger, now more than ever,” Tartara said. “There’s a very hungry community that loves anime and manga and they want a show for them, they want what they love on the center stage.”

Anime NYC will be held from 1 to 10 p.m. on Nov. 17, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 18, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 19. Tickets range in from $35 to $275.