The biggest comic industry convention on the East coast, New York Comic Con expanded their 3 day convention to a 4 day, rivaling SDCC in content (though thankfully, not in size.) However, the highlight of the convention is not just the comic and movie guests. Sponsored by Viz, the biggest Japanime guest of the weekend was Naruto creator, Kishimoto, Masashi-sensei along with the voice of the title character, Takeuchi Junko-san. The events of the weekend is with Kishimoto-sensei being part of Super Week, making appearances at the Apple Store, signing at Kinokuniya, Barnes & Noble along with his panels at NYCC. All of this in celebration to the end of the series, the Boruto movie AND Naruto’s birthday! Dattebayo indeed!
Thursday: October 8
first day shopping
I arrived at the convention center around 2:30pm, getting the first real look at the new subway station which was pretty awesome. It’s so close to the con and the park was gorgeous. With the badge already in hand, I entered through any of the door and headed to the first event of the day: the dealer’s room.
Using the app, the specialized postcard can pop-out like 3D. it’s pretty awesome!
Surprisingly, Weta Workshop has descended upon NYCC with their craft, costumes and weapons on full display. Tolkien fans rejoice!
Turns out, I completely missed the Viz booth since it was in the right wing. XD
Around 6:00pm, I headed to the Crunchyroll panel.
The Crunchyroll Panel opened with an intro reel of their site and shows in the form of classic platforming game ala Mario Bros. Crunchyroll simulcast has expanded with each year and currently, they noted that they usually get 70%-90% of all simulcasts. The free service includes standard quality of shows after they air in Japan. Premium members get their shows HD and ad-free an hour after they air in Japan, viewable on any device with unlimited manga.
The panel closed at 7:45pm and I grabbed a few more pics before heading out.
Friday: October 9
not early to rise
I wasn’t able to get back to the con until 2pm. I hopped on the line for the 3:15 Jean Rhys Davis autograph which was soon moving. The line moved along steadily and I got to Davis before 4pm. The autograph for Davis was $40 which came with a choice of a picture. I chose his headshot since I forgot to bring the LOTR dvd. No photos, but I told Davis that I was a major fan of his and loved the ‘Lord of the Rings due to being a Tolkien fan. I shared that I also watched his other movies ala Au Pair which I thought his character was very lovable. I asked quickly about his line during the LOTR movie about the corpse moving because his axe was in his innards. I asked if that humorous line was ad libbed and Davis responded that many of the lines were ad libbed. He didn’t answer the question directly, but really, it would be hard to respond. He actually noted that I spoke very well and asked what did I do. I told him that I was a social worker as well as a writer for media sites, covering events like this one. I thanked him for his kind comment. I noted that I was a writer, but I wasn’t very good. He encouraged me, stating that I should keep trying, noting that writers were apprenticed to others for years before they make anything good. It was an interesting comment and I was honored that he took the time to talk with me.
It was close to 4pm so I headed to the Sunrise panel…only be closed out of it. I went to the Vertical panel waiting room instead where I rested.
Marketing Director of Vertical, Ed Chavez hosted the panel, welcoming the attendees as the best comics company in North America courtesy of the darling slice of kitty life, Chi’s Sweet Home by Konami Kanata-sensei.
Preparing for the wait
After the Vertical panel, I rested a bit before heading to the Hammerstein Ballroom for my ninja overnight adventures.
waiting in the night
I arrived at the location at 7:35 and although it was before the official 10pm line, there was already a line. At 8pm, the security guards of the Hammerstein Ballroom set up the barricade early and even put up the ‘official’ sign from NYCC. However, we knew that it wasn’t guaranteed until the NYCC people give us instructions that we could finally know what will happen. And since we were dealing with the age group of teenagers (as many Narutards are) we knew that there will be some semblance of chaos around. Before 10pm, there were fans aggravating fans. Attendees agitated each other by repeating ‘Yes, this was the official ‘unofficial’ line,’ ‘They’re going to let us stay, we are so totally in’ to ‘They will move the line and then we can count again, this isn’t it.’ ‘Watch out, there are people across the street who will be trying to get in’ and more. Words that bring our hopes up and then shatter them. Words spoken without any backing just adds fuel to the already fiery and tired fans. Speculations, negative sentiments and hot words were exchanged. Even calls of ‘if you cut, I will cut you’ were heard. Truly, it was a difficult time. Cutting the line even as an avid fan at this point meant that you would be cutting someone out from the back.
The Hammerstein staff finally announced that they were going to let people one by one to get the wristband for the autograph. The wristband would cement the space given for the movie AND allow fans to receive an autograph from Kishimoto-sensei the next day. There was no need to wait.
Getting to the wristband were filled with more crazy angry moments. There were so many calls of ‘do not run or else they will not give us wristbands’. People were just overly excited. Thankfully, since we were in the first group, there was little fear and less apprehension. But as said, the second group of people had so much banking on the wait since it was a huge group squeezing into one line which made who got on first or later way more important.
Unfortunately, there were those that couldn’t get a wristband. Some awesome fans had painted skateboards of Naruto artwork as well as the pivotal dream scene. They wanted to show Kishimoto-sensei if it was possible.
For an autograph line such as this, a single file would have been best and more clear. Yes, the line would have stretched all the way down the block and around, but treating it as a concert line was not the best idea. Yes, Hammerstein ballroom was not used to an autograph line. Yes, the fans waited waaaay earlier then NYCC planned (creating an unofficial line which ultimately became the official line at 7pm) but to push everyone back early on instead of plopping down a short barrier half the width of the sidewalk wasn’t the best idea. Line jumping would have been avoided (no group chaos) and it would have been clearer and easier to move a conga line rather then a group. ‘Who arrived first’ would have been established and it would have been much, much easier. The old ticket pick ups in the wee hours of the morning at the Jacob Javits constituted a single line. When we were waiting for Obata-sensei last year at B&N constituted a line. This was a mass of fans. To address the sharing of information is pointless since the Hammerstein staff tried their best to establish order despite the NYCC previous policies. The question of wristband or not wasn’t the issue even with the fans itself were going crazy with not enough information. The point in mind was that the fans were prepared to stake their claim overnight. We were set on sleeping there so whether or not we had wristbands just served as a nice surprise and made us feel safer about our position. Fan culture was established and it was their prerogative to decide whether or not our line was official or not. They chose to address the growing crowd outside which was the best the security could do at this point. As mentioned before, what could’ve made it even better was that the group be a line instead. Otherwise, good job. Elephant wristband in hand we were set for dinner.
Saturday: October 10
early to rise
I arrived at the Hammerstein Ballroom at 9am which was the time we were suppose to arrive. Already, there was a line forming with cosplayers. Waiting the hour to get in was not as tiring since I guess we were filled with excitement for the movie and signing despite only 2 hours of sleep. NYCC staffers checked our wristbands and the badges. When they got to me, the staff noted that Kishimoto-sensei only wanted the event to be for fans and not for press. Thankfully, they let me through. I understand what the Viz staffers meant, but that’s horrible to discredit press as fans since we didn’t want to just attend to cover an event. NYCC policy for non privileged press meant that we had to go through the same waiting time and effort as others to be apart of any event. Of course, this was from Kishimoto-sensei and I believe it was meant as two fold: no official press coverage needed (it’s a movie afterall) and don’t take a place of a fan. BUT, press are also fans too!
We were sent in promptly at 10am and we were ushered into the lobby and down the stairs one by one. Fans came from afar included Chicago, Puerto Rico and even Japan. Mangaka appearances in Japan are not as frequent and Kishimoto-sensei signings are rare. No photos were of course allowed in the area and no phones were allowed to remain in sight. Names in katakana were written a piece of paper which Kishimoto-sensei would write on the shikishi provided.
The hall was the same one as the Perfume concert and the screen was at the back of the stage which made sitting at the front a very good seat. There were booklets, paper headpieces on the seat and we all had fun with the headbands. There were some pics taken by Viz of the autographs being held up by the fans. And the room was open to other attendees for the movie.
During the seating, they were testing out the film and the movie opened to snow and a lone snowflake falling…when the movie stopped. Fans laughed and there were comments about the snowflake being the main character.
a conversation with Kishimoto-sensei and Takeuchi-san
The MC greeted the fans by pointing out how special today is October 10 which is Naruto’s birthday. The fans all shouted “Happy birthday, Naruto!” The MC pointed out that two of their staffs were wearing Naruto fashion, motifs on a long dress. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to grasp the fashion line their dresses came from. Finally, we got our hype on to bring out our special guests.
back to the con center
Viz was interviewing fans for the event segments of the dvds.
After photos, I headed back to the convention center.
There is an area next to the dealer’s room which is filled with fog…perfect for cosplay moments, but quite dangerous actually. Needless to say, Dealer’s Room on a saturday is completely packed. Still, I braved the arena for Viz’s Naruto stamp rally: Go to 3 booths and hit Viz booth for a special coin like the ones given out for the Sailor Moon stamp rallys. At least its only 3 locations. ^^;
Sunday: October 11
Yokai Watch playroom
Besides the kids designated areas at the con, there is a special kid friendly Yokai Watch room which is a kiddy haven. They even have bean bags for attendees to sit on. Plus, the mascots visited the room periodically for photos.
We got to the Sailor Moon panel…only to find it closed off. We wandered into the Artist Alley where we found the famous Felipe Smith and other independent artists.
Look! You can finally see the floor! Since I was waiting for friends, I ended up staying as the convention staff convene for their final meeting…and farewell. They were taking a group pic from above. ^_^
As I was leaving around 6pm, I caught my last cosplay pic.
a con in review
Initially, the first day of NYCC was like a preshow or a day for shopping. Usually opened only for press and professionals for special panels. However, with the opening of the first day for VIPs and then regular attendees to shop, industry panels opened to the public have been set on thursdays.
This year, LexCorp (yes, from Superman) provided complimentary convention-wide wifi coverage. Initially, they asked to register an e-mail, but on the second day, the request was removed. They even had a commercial play on the tv screens of Jacob Javits. Work for LexCorp! Hoping that next year, we’ll have wifi coverage again.
Due to the high attendance at NYCC, ticketing is still pretty difficult. There is an online queue due to the inability of the server to handle the number buyers. Also, as many major events go, there are scalpers which are difficult to avoid. Weekend tickets sell out quickly and for those who are trying to get tickets for next year, it is recommended to stake out the site the hour within the sell time. Next years dates are October 6th to 9th 2016. Hope to see you there!