AnimeNext, or Anext, is one of the largest anime conventions in the New York tri-state area. Famous for being well organized, hosting stellar raves, and located right by the beach, a weekend at AnimeNext feels as if you’re on vacation. For the first time, Honey’s Anime went to AnimeNext to see if the rumors were true.
|When it Established|| October 2002|
Official Website: http://www.animenext.org
The first ever Anext was planned in eight months and held in the Crowne Plaza Meadowlands in Secaucus, New Jersey. The number of attendees kept growing exponentially, so just about every year, Anext had to change locations due to overcrowding. Anext finally found a home at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, New Jersey, and stayed there for seven years. Since 2016, AnimeNext is held at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
|Length of Event||3 days|
|Place/Location||Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey|
Single day passes are not available for pre-registration, and can only be purchased at the door on that particular day of the con.
|Hotels|| Atlantic City is known for being a mini Las Vegas, with tons of hotels and casinos. The staff at AnimeNext took this opportunity to affiliate themselves with as many hotels as possible. The Sheraton is the closest hotel to the convention center, with it being right across the street. Not only that, but there’s a sky bridge that connects the hotel and convention center for even easier access. Second would be Caesars, but it’s also the most expensive hotel at almost $300 a night.|
The third closest hotel is Bally’s Atlantic City, which is three blocks away, making it a short ten minute walk from the convention center. Bally’s Atlantic City is connected to the boardwalk, the beach, and a large casino. Further hotels include Harrah’s, Claridge, Courtyard by Marriott Atlantic City, Showboat, and the Red Roof Inn. For anyone staying further away from the con, shuttle buses were available for select hotels from the con and back.
What to Expect
The Atlantic City Convention Center is large, clean, and gorgeous. All 4 floors were open for the convention, and every single room was being used. There’s a nice mini garden in the center between the convention center and Sheraton Hotel where cosplayers took photos and attendees relaxed. Anext only had one food stand, but that’s because there are several restaurants and fast food places within three blocks of the convention. The convention center is also connected to a train station, and in that train station is a cheap but delicious food court. There was a separate exit for the people getting off the train, so they never entered the convention center.
Pre-registered badges were not mailed, so you had to pick up your badge at the convention. Early birds were able to pick up their badges a day before the convention from 2pm to 9pm. In the same room as badge pick up, people over 18 got in line to get a special wristband that proves they’re 18. This made it easier to get into 18+ panels and events, instead of digging around for your ID while you’re on line. Attendees over 21 also receive a wristband that gave them permission to drink during the rave.
What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event
Bring a camera to take pictures of all the amazing cosplays. If you don’t have a camera, and rather use your phone, then bring a portable charger and USB cord so your device stays fully charged. Bring a folder, binder, or art portfolio to keep all the posters you bought at the artist’s alley safe. Anext takes place in the second week of June and some days are hotter than others, so pack water bottles to stay hydrated. Although the floors are carpeted, you’ll probably be on your feet for most of the convention, so wear comfortable sneakers.
What to Do While There/What is Available
Panels: Just like every convention, Anext is stacked with panels. There were a variety of panels from trivia to informational, workshops, and Q&A. There were also a lot of unique panels that you wouldn’t see anywhere else, such as Order Up: Cooking Manga/Anime. This panel focused on introducing different types of gourmet anime and manga, and the panelists gave out yakitori umaibo at the end.
Rave: Anext’s raves are the main highlight of the convention. They keep the hype rolling with various DJs throughout the night and strobe lights. Anext takes their raves to the next level by having not one, but two raves. The first rave took place Friday evening from 11:45pm to 2:45 am, and the second one took place Saturday night at the same time.
AMV Contest: AMVs are a classic passtime in the anime community and a tradition for most conventions. Anext gives you multiple chances to catch the AMV contest participants and its winners. Everyday, there was a panel room dedicated to screening amvs of all categories. The winners were shown on Saturday, but if you missed it, there was a replay of the winners and the runner ups on Sunday to close out the convention.
Concert: This year’s special guest band was none other than ALL OFF, a j-rock group from Japan. They sang both openings of Heavy Object, the ending theme to season one of Mob Psycho 100, and other songs from their albums. The concert was booming with energy, with fans screamed their hearts out to the lyrics. The concert was also streamed on twitch for anyone that couldn’t make it.
Cosplay Burlesque: Cosplay burlesques aren’t too popular with large conventions so we were very surprised to see that Anext had one. The theme was Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia), with the students of U.A’s class A trying to prove they are real heroes. The actors would crossplay or play multiple characters so whether you’re straight, gay, or anything in between, the cosplay burlesque would’ve catered to your sexuality. Then again, you don’t go into a cosplay for the nudity, you go for the comedy! Don’t ask us how, but at some point, Doctor Strange showed up, and invisible girl Toru did a reverse strip tease where she put on clothes instead of taking them off.
Fashion Show: MINT, the designer of the Tokyo fashion brand, MINT NEKO, held a fashion show on Saturday of the convention. A week prior to the show, Anext announced that they needed models for their fashion show. Yes, any regular attendee had the chance to become a model for the top tier Tokyo fashion brand. The show itself lasted an hour with the first 30 minutes showing off the clothes, and the last 30 minutes being a Q&A with MINT himself.
Beach/Boardwalk: Atlantic City is along the Jersey Shore, so many attendees took the quick walk to the beach and enjoyed the sun. People got henna tattoos, fried ice cream, and took epic group cosplay photos along the pier. It was crowded, as there seemed to be some sort of party or family reunion going on at the same time, but we made the most of it. Plus seeing “regular” people’s reactions to all the cosplayers is always hilarious.
Artist Alley/Dealer’s Room: There were over 100 artists and 100 dealers in the exhibitor’s hall. That may sound crowded, but the room was huge and each row was large enough for groups to pass through without packing into each other. The dealer’s room had a variety of booths, from props to wigs, figures, and 18+ yaoi doujinshi. The artist alley had a wide rage of posters, buttons, photo cards, and even pillows. Some of the artists were offering commissions, so many attendees received art of their favorite ship that may never become cannon.
Masquerade: The cosplay contest, or masquerade, was packed with con goers and cosplayers. Contestants got up on stage to perform a skit, song, or dance. A free weekend pass to next year’s Anext was given out to runner-ups and winners of the contest. The Masquerade was so eventful that it went past its 2 hour time slot!
We are not exaggerating when we say that just about half of the convention attendees were cosplaying. Be it a group, a meme, a crossplay, or a lazy cosplay, just about everyone was doing it and they looked amazing. Here are some of our favorites:
Yes, AnimeNext does live up to the hype. There are plenty of things to do both in and out of the convention, the guests are a must-see, and the raves are to die for. If you’re considering going to AnimeNext next year, then take our word for it and buy your weekend pass now! Make sure to check out our special guest interviews that we had the opportunity to do at Anext and leave a comment to let us know if you’re interested in Anext! And for those of you who went to Anext this year, what was your favorite part about the convention? Till next time!