ANIME NYC 2021 POST SHOW MESSAGE
Hello, this is Anime NYC founder Peter Tatara. Anime NYC 2021 ended one week ago, and since then, my team and I have been speaking with fans, answering fan emails, and discussing what worked and what we can do better. And I want to share the biggest of these with you today.
WELCOME BACK AND WELCOME HOME
After a long gap, Anime NYC was the first major anime event to bring fans and the industry back together. We’re deeply proud of the support of partners including Crunchyroll, Aniplex, Avex Pictures, Bandai Namco Arts, Bluefin, Bushiroad, COVER Corp, Dark Horse, Funimation, Gamers Heaven, GKIDS, the Consulate General of Japan in New York, Japan Foundation, Kinokuniya, Kodansha, miHoYo, Noir Caesar, Right Stuf, Sentai, TMS, VIZ, Yen Press, and more. Together, we presented an official My Hero Academia Live Concert, Demon Slayer and Attack on Titan Special Events, hololive’s debut in NYC, and much, much more. We grew a lot this year, too, physically adding over 160,000 square feet of new space, with Anime NYC for the first time spreading over the entirety of the Javits Center’s main floor.
This is amazing, and baffling, and incredible. When we launched Anime NYC in 2017, we had no clue how big or deep the convention could become. Yet, Anime NYC, in only its fourth live event, now expands over most of the Javits Center and welcomes 53,000 fans.
OUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE
But with this year’s growth also comes our biggest challenge. How to be a home for 53,000 fans. In 2019, we welcomed 46,000. This year saw only 7,000 more. But something was different. Everything was packed much, much more. Why? We underestimated how many fans would come early and spend every moment of the weekend in the convention center. I want to be clear though – our fans are not to blame. This was Anime NYC’s plan failing to meet our fans’ demand.
The biggest example of this was building entry on Friday. Our Friday entry plan was based on entry plans in previous years; however, we didn’t expect the vast majority of our Friday and 3-Day Badge holders to arrive very early on Friday morning, which caused a backup that only continued throughout the day. Again, our fans are not to blame. This was Anime NYC’s plan failing to meet our fans’ demand. And the unfortunate result of this became wait times that were the opposite of the experience we wanted to create. We did as much as we could to speed up entry as Friday progressed, but we couldn’t dramatically re-engineer our plan until the queue was clear. Once it was, in partnership with the convention center, we were able to build a new plan that added new entrances and queue spaces previously unavailable to us to make entrance much more efficient. What took some multiple hours on Friday was now averaging under 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
LONG WAITS FOR POPULAR PANELS
We had many of the same issues inside as we did outside, specifically more fans overall and more fans coming early. This year, we ticketed major events we felt would fill, and we also built queue rooms next to all panel rooms open at least an hour before each event for anyone who wanted to come early. But we didn’t expect fans to begin forming unofficial lines long before this. Again, this was Anime NYC’s plan failing to meet our fans’ demand. The biggest example of this was our One Piece 1000 Watch Party, which saw fans coming over five hours before the event began. We made the decision onsite to cap this event with tickets and, thanks to our friends at Crunchyroll, we were able to expand the screening, adding two additional theaters to share the watch party with as many as we could, but we know we disappointed many who wanted to share in this moment together.
SCALPING, SCAMMING, AND COUNTERFEITS
Here, I want to share the most disappointing moment of the weekend for me. As we were distributing One Piece wristbands, we saw multiple fans immediately offer them for sale. It’s opposite the spirit I created Anime NYC in and should have no place in our community. And I’ll say I was thoroughly discouraged by the aggressive scalping, scamming, and pure counterfeit badges I and my team saw in the last weeks leading to Anime NYC.
THE COMMON ELEMENT
What do these three things have in common? Our entry issues? Challenges with crowding in general and specifically at major events? And a predatory ticket resale market? The show has grown a lot in just a few years, and it means more to more people now than I ever thought it could. And while I know a lot of fans had tremendous fun this year, I also know a lot of fans also didn’t, and I can’t ignore that. Anime NYC was built to be a warm, rewarding community for everyone, I know that’s not the experience everyone had, and the common element was Anime NYC’s plan failing to meet our fans’ demand.
So, what does all this mean? Next year is Anime NYC’s fifth event, and it will not be run like our first four. Our fifth anniversary year will be a resetting and reimagining to redeliver the experiences and the community you deserve. Everything – and I mean everything – is currently being discussed to make sure we don’t fall short again.
We’ve already started reviewing new access technologies, registration platforms, ticket distribution methods, heightened security and accessibility measures, special event reservation tools, staff and crew training plans, new staff positions, and anti-fraud systems. We’ve further already begun conversations around ways to further grow inside the Javits Center as well as within the neighboring Hudson Yards community to provide much more physical space for everyone.
WE STILL HOPE TO BE YOUR HOME
If you didn’t enjoy your time at Anime NYC, that’s personally my responsibility. My goal has always been to provide an amazing experience, and I know we didn’t for everyone this year. But I want you to know we still hope to be your home, and the spirit Anime NYC was created in has not gone away. We can and will be better next year, and every day until Anime NYC 2022 will be spent focused on building New York City the anime convention it deserves.
AND WE’RE LISTENING
And while I’ve said a lot here, this is just one voice, and so much of what makes Anime NYC is you. It’s a space for New York’s anime community to come together, and if you have specific experiences from this year’s convention you’d like to share or specific ideas for next year you’d like to recommend, the best way to reach me and the Anime NYC team is firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re remaking a lot next year, and we welcome your voice to be part of it.
Thank you, and I look forward to welcoming you to Anime NYC’s Fifth Anniversary Convention in 2022.
Founder, Anime NYC