Major regional conventions are events that anime fans wait all year for to come around. Going to a convention requires quite a bit of planning - and often a large investment of time and money. New York Comic Con has been a destination event for anime fans all over the world for almost as long as it’s been running. However, this year the Javits Center played host for the first time to another major event - Anime NYC. Having attended Comic Con in the past as well as Anime NYC, I can say there are advantages and disadvantages to attending either of the two conventions. Hopefully, after reading this you’ll know which one you have your eye on for next fall!
Anime NYC is Strictly for Anime Fans
This goes without saying, but the target demographic for people who attend anime NYC is people who are fans of Japanese animation and pop culture. Therefore, just about everything from vendors and panels to arcade games and cosplay ensembles is centered around those things. If you’re looking for a festival that’s only about these things, and not really a fan of western media or video games, then this may be a better bet for you. Unlike the more diverse crowd at Comic Con you can be sure that everyone at Anime NYC is an anime fan.
New York Comic Con is for Nerds of All Kinds
Nerds of all stripes, and all categories are represented at New York City Comic Con. Fans of all ages and types from all over the country flock to this convention for good reason. There are booths and panels for fandoms of all sorts of media - anime, comic books, novels, manga, TV shows, videogames, tabletop RPGs… you name it, there’s a place for it at Comic Con. Here you can spend the morning playing a trading card game, get a signed poster of your favorite comic book hero in the afternoon, and watch an anime season premiere at night. If you prefer more of a mixed bag, Comic Con may be the festival that’s more up your alley!
Cosplay is Much More Common and Casual at Anime NYC
At many conventions, including Comic Con, the majority of people enter wearing regular street clothes. That’s not to say there aren’t tons of people in full cosplay - but they’re not the majority. However, this was not the case at Anime NYC this past year. Over half the crowd seemed to be in full costume, with the odd person here and there dressed casually. Though there were less over the top Cosplays than one would expect at Comic Con, casual cosplay at anime NYC seemed to be the norm - even if people weren’t dressed head to toe like an anime character most sported cat ears, a wig or a kigurumi at the very least.
New York City Comic Con is Much, Much Larger
Every year for New York Comic Con, the Javits Center is packed to the gills with panels, booths, and activities. The convention is so big that there are even panels that happen off-site! You could be there for all four days of the festival from start to finish and still not see or do everything. It can be downright overwhelming - with all the panels, booth signings and special guest appearances it’s definitely a necessity to plan what you want to do in advance to get the most of it.
Anime NYC was a much smaller convention - the festival didn’t use the entire convention center, and everything from the number of panels to the size of the artist's alley was on a smaller scale. There were still plenty of interesting panels and screenings and definitely no shortage of things to do at the festival - thought it’s fair to say you could probably have seen and done most things in a day or so, aside from the panels. This may be because it was only the first year, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the festival grows in the future - only time will tell. Still, it’s hard to imagine it will ever reach the colossal size Comic Con has - because it’s more niche, it’s likely it will always be the smaller of the two.
Anime NYC is Not as Crowded and Has Shorter Lines
This was a breath of fresh air. Even though Comic Con spans the majority of the convention center there are always so many attendees it still feels crowded. Walking around shoulder-to-shoulder with other attendees and long lines are commonplace - making arriving at panels and booths ahead of time crucial. It’s not to say this makes it unpleasant, but con-goers at Comic Con certainly should expect to exercise patience. In this way, NYCC has become a victim of its own success. Anime NYC, on the other hand, was much less congested. It’s not to say it felt empty by any means but it was much easier to get around at the smaller festival, and there was rarely a long wait or line for much of anything.
Anime NYC Has More Relevant Panels, But Comic Con Brings Bigger Names
Even with the scale of both conventions taken into consideration, Comic Con had a more prestigious lineup of panelists and events. It’s simply not possible for a smaller convention to compete with the big names of animators and voice actors that turn up at Comic Con. However, that doesn’t mean Anime NYC should be counted out - on the contrary, though Comic Con had bigger names, Anime NYC had three rooms of nearly non-stop anime and Japanese culture-related panels. A quick look at the schedules from 2017 of both events shows that Comic Con lists 31 panels dedicated to Anime, Manga, and Cosplay over the course of four days, while Anime NYC had more panels than on Saturday alone, its busiest day.
Anime NYC Has a Lower Ticket Price Point - For Now
Conventions can be quite expensive - from what you wind up spending on tickets and lodging, to the cost of food and souvenirs. When it comes to tickets, New York City Comic Con can be pretty pricey. In 2017 they cost $45 for Thursday and $50 for each subsequent day - that means $195 dollars if you wanted to be there for the whole weekend. A weekend ticket for Anime NYC cost only $60 with single day tickets ranging from $35 to $45. This is likely due to scale and demand - after all, Comic Con NYC tickets sold out well in advance but Anime NYC still had some Sunday and Friday tickets left close to the event. Due to the sheer scale of Comic Con, the ticket prices make sense - but if you’re only interested in Anime anyhow, you may get far more bang for your buck at Anime NYC. However, if the convention grows over time, I would be surprised if this didn’t change at least a little bit.
Anime NYC and New York City Comic Con are both top-tier events for otakus of all kinds. However, depending what you are looking for you may be better off going to one over the other. If you love everything from videogames to manga and want serious variety, Comic Con may the better choice. On the other hand, If you only like anime and manga you may find yourself frustrated shelling out big bucks for Comic Con tickets only to have to wait in long lines for the few panels you want to see.
If you have an interest in pop-culture beyond Japan and are used to the hustle and bustle of Comic Con, you may find a smaller, more niche convention like Anime NYC leaves something to be desired. However, if you are a die-hard anime fan frustrated with the long lines and large crowds Comic Con draws, Anime NYC may be your new go to. After reading this article, hopefully, you have an idea of what festival may be a better fit for you! We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.