AnimeNEXT 2017 – a con in review

For their second year at Atlantic City, Anime Next pulled out all the stops and invited the production staff of the hit Fall 2016 series, Yuri!!! On Ice. However, that is not all of the extensive guests from Japan. Already a staple of ANEXT, Studio Trigger’s Wakabayashi Hiromi-san and Koyama Shigeto-san returns with animators Handa Shuhei-san and Yoshinari Yo-san. Staff of ReLIFE makes an appearance with seiyuu Ueda Reina-san and there are more news from VOCALOID. Stateside guests include voice actors, Ellyn Stern, John Swasey, Lex lang including cultural speaker Charles Dunbar and comedian Uncle Yo. More from the weekend of cosplay, fandoms and fun under the cut!

Thursday, June 8

After arriving around 2pm to the hotel, I quickly checked in and scoped out the area for food. The boardwalk has many choices for food as well as photoshoot areas. Thankfully, the weather wasn’t as bad as last year and we were able to walk without sweating up a storm.

At 6:30, the hall for waiting was already filling up, but it was a steady walk and a bit of waiting. We were out within the hour.

For efficiency, they raised a flag to signal that they can receive the next attendee which is a nice idea. We took the shuttle back to the hotel. For many, they would need to walk outside of the hotel to get to the shuttle bus tomorrow…especially since there are no weapons allowed in the casino. Even fake ones. The casino also has clothing rules, including no hoodies, face paint or masks. It was interesting since I believe they didn’t have these requirements last year. But since we’re the first anime con in the city, they are learning about the quirks of having such a convention here. It’s annoying, but understandable due to the safety in the casino floor.

Friday, June 9

shopping time!

After picking up my press badge (as the location was not set up the evening before,) I confirmed that there was a press meet for YOI at 11:45pm on saturdays. But since I’m determined to attend the signing, it will have to missed.

The Dealer’s Room opened at 12pm and there was a steady line streaming in. The music guests was placed near the entrance like always. Oblivion Dust was the name of the band, performing on saturday night.

H.Naoto boasted their usual store, but it was unfortunate that there was no lolita brand at the con this year. It was definitely missed.

This year they had something special, UFO machines and purikura booth at one side of the hall. Almost like a mini arcade straight from Japan. The purikura machine was a bit expensive but that is to be expected for being the singular machine in the hall.

The different east coast cons sat along the wall.

Other booths that I missed was Vertical since Ed Chavez’s move away from the East coast. However, there were some companies that were still here, including Media Blasters.

One of the most interesting booths was the Operations Hammond booth. They introduced their service, noting that they are volunteer EMT and medical professionals who work with the convention staff as contract workers to communicate with attendees who need help. They are able to administer first aid, determinate the level of need of an individual. A staff who is unable to determine the situation might immediately call the ambulance for a fainting and famished attendee. However, a volunteer EMT might be called upon to speak with the attendee and determine that only water, food and space might be needed instead. It is a surprising sound prospect and has been at cons for quite some time now, working with AnimeNEXT, Anime Boston and others. Mostly on the East coast and Canada, traveling by word of mouth.

I found something I never seen before, Death Note stockings. They are official Funimation items. The Black Butler ones are kinda scary….having Ciel and Sebastian on your legs….

The artist alley was behind the Dealer’s room. It was not separated by anything except for signs which cover the back area with ‘No Photos’. I asked for permission for booths which I want to cover. Anime Next has some of the more varied artists at the Artist Alley. I always enjoy walking through the area.

The art above is from Brownrabbits which has their own Etsy site.

We spotted a wedding party at the lobby…turns out there was a wedding at the convention center. A normal wedding. We didn’t know what it was about and didn’t want to bother them. All in all, I hope an anime convention surrounding a wedding was what the bride wanted.

We went back to the convention center to grab the Jitney back to the hotel. We had to wait for a few to come and go since there were so many people 4 routes…but everyone one of them went to Bally’s so we had options. Finally hopped on a full bus back to the casinos.

Saturday, June 10

YOI autographs

Woke up early so we could be sure to get to the autographs on time. Even though we arrived before 12pm, we didn’t get to line up until 12:15pm. We were near the first half of the line and we were sent in slowly. They didn’t allow photos for any of the Japanese guests. They allowed shikshi but the staff actually asked me what it was at first. XD

During the wait, fans played music from YOI, including History Maker which got everyone singing. Also, for those that don’t have anything to sign, they had a color page of an illustration which the animators made for the con. We couldn’t just keep the page without signing so I didn’t ask for one.

From first to last, Ogawa Takahiro (who signed in a corner), Hirose Izumi-san, Tatenaga Junpei-san and Ito Noriko-san with Makkachin tissue box at her side. She even drew an usagi which I remarked was cute. It was already 2pm when we left the room.

After the signing, we went back to the hotel room to drop off the shikishi and pick up a few things. Then we headed back to the signing area and got into line for the TMS/ReLIFE signing. We waited from 3:15pm to 4:30pm. It felt even longer when we got to the room. Someone brought a large cardboard standee for Ueda Reina-san to sign. Many people knelt when they were talking with her. It was pretty interesting. After Ueda-san, Kosaka Tomochi-san and Yamanaka Junko-san. I mentioned to both Kosaka-san and Yamanaka-san that I was a big fan of Detective Conan and looked forward to their newer works.

back to the Dealer’s room

After the signing, we headed to the Dealer’s Room so that I could get the Ten Count items saved for me by the anikuji booth. Then we went to the Artist Alley area and checked out a few more booths.

The three artists include Giselle Sarmiento (tumblr,) Marlena Konglau (tumblr) and Sheila Machicado (tictail.)

Yuri!!! on Ice Q&A with MAPPA

We quickly walked back up to the panel rooms for the YOI panel at 6:15pm. We were seated at the very first row, left. It was fine since there was no photos allowed even for press. No recording either. XD The panel also started at 6:45pm despite ending at 7:15pm since the previous panel ran long. We only got through a few questions and the panels showed us a few things including Welcome to the Madness to the cheers of the crowd.

Magic of Cosplay

After the panel, we headed to the Magic of Cosplay room which had designs of outfits from famous cosplayers. The intricacies of the outfits were amazing to look at up close. Unlike last year, the room was actually the masquerade room as well where the performers got to pick up their prizes from the show. Seeing all the attendees in the room really made me sad that I had to miss the masquerade…but still, it was an interesting evening.

Oblivion Dust concert pics

After the mini cosplay tour, I finally grabbed the pic of young Genkai…she has been running about the convention center all day and I couldn’t catch up with her. She is short…the perfect Genkai! Press was allowed to shoot the first 4 songs of the concert. ^_^ I got in close to 9pm which was the start of the concert. There were some issues since they didn’t have the metal barricades like before. Instead, it was a human barricade until they brought in tables which was a smart idea. They turn the tables on the side and we were able to have that safety area.

dancing all night long

After the concert, I spotted a growing crowd of dancers on the ground floor of the con. I don’t think it was an official dance and there was so much dancing and singing, including Bohemian Rhapsody. The dance area really pulled everyone together in fun.

Sunday, June 11

Yuri!!! on Ice with MAPPA panel

We got to the panel at 11:30am I got in via press easily with 801megane. We sat near the front middle left. Unlike yesterday, it was an info panel. And unlike yesterday, we got the full panel.

The panel ended at 12:35pm and we headed to the Dealer’s Room for some last minute shopping.

last round of the Dealer’s Room

I walked around in the lobby area, watching the dance battles.

a con in review

Traveling from Caesars to the con center and back is not much different from Bally’s. There were less con ppl at the hotel since it wasn’t one of the event hotels. However, the choices for meals is slightly better…albeit more expensive. Still, the location of one of the Bally’s drop off (because there is more than one location) is like two blocks away from the main entrance for Caesars. Needless to say, these drop offs and pick up locations will probably change year to year.

For food, there are places in the area that have late dining options and not just strictly in the casinos. I had more time then last year to really venture into the city and boardwalk for meals. We could see attendees at all the places around the convention center and even in the malls. In that respect, I felt that we really have a presence in Atlantic City, descending enmassed like we had done so at other cons.

Traveling to the con boasts more options now that it is at Atlantic City. Especially with the plethora of casino tour buses. There are pros and cons for each bus company and pick up location. Usually there are not many issues with regular buses coming and going, but Greyhound had the most issues this weekend. Hopefully they were able to resolve the issues and service will resume with no problems next year.

There was a slight increase in attendance from last year’s 12,374 to 12,733. It’s not as high as
2015 with over 14,000 at the Somerset convention center. But the increase means that others have started to attend this New Jersey con that ventured quite a distance away from NY. The number of people on the site still does not feel overwhelmingly crowded. There were people congregated in large groups at various places, but there was still space to move around and the staff just asked people to move people along when they have gathered in one place.

Interestingly, as mentioned there were dance offs at the lobby of the con center throughout the weekend. It appears that the music blasted from a boombox which attendees themselves have brought. The dance off took up the space of one side of the ground floor, but it was fun for anyone passing by. I didn’t hear of any dance floor issues like last year so hopefully there was none. But the impromptu dances made it seem like a party every moment.

Next year, AnimeNEXT will be held from June 8 to 10. Hotels have not been released yet, but keep your eyes peeled! On to more adventures!