Last weekend, Podcast Rob and I had the pleasure to go check out Anime FanFest!
After our obvious love affair with the Library Bards, we heard they were going to be in town and there was no way we were going to miss it for the world. Along the way we got to go and see the sights at NJ’s newest Anime Convention, filling in the empty space left by quite a few shows that have moved on to other locations. Having been a frequent visitor and guest of some of those other shows, it was nice to see the old convention hall.
I’ll give you the honest positive and honest negative.
The positive. These guys know what they’re doing in terms of space and arrangement. The convention, being first year, definitely has room for growth, but it didn’t feel like you were marching around to far corners of the world. They kept the show condensed and easy to get to everything. The vendors all arranged with a spacious layout. The media area carpeted and accessible. The guests visible right as you walk in on the other side, with the artist alley right in the middle. The show was even progressive enough to have all of the cosplay artists in the mix with the Artist Alley folks, which is nice to see that the craft of cosplay is being given its own section right up front at a show. The entire presentation was sleek and streamlined so that there were no bottlenecks to speak of, and the panels/halls were curtained off right off the con floor.
The negative really is that the show didn’t have tons to see and do. The company that put it together had sleek packages and promotions, so there is definitely some umpf behind what they’re doing, but everything they’ve run previous has been comic book shows. (This is solely based on their website MAD EVENT MANAGEMENT, and if I’m wrong – please correct me) Anime shows live and die by their panel work and by their fan service and interactivity. A big anime con features non-stop panels running non-stop in five rooms about everything from fanfiction to art to crafts beyond what is being sold in the vendor hall to specific analysis on shows and subgenres. The panel list was threadbare with only a few fan-oriented panels, and even those seem to be polished a little too shiny. There is room to grow there, and I think the first direction they need to do is look at their audience as very different from their comic show roots.. they’re totally different machines. The New York Anime Con failed just as quickly for very similar reasons.
We got to see their Masquerade, Karaoke, and Greggo’s Game Shows – and they were all put on with the same pizazz I would expect – as they were hosted by folks that have done anime conventions for years. I hope next year there are tons more people there to see them.
We of course also stuck around to see the Library Bards performances during the Masquerade, and it was great to finally get to hang out with Bonnie and Xander, and they were just as charming and wonderful and fantabulous as we always expected them to be. Dinner and drinks along with some of the staff and volunteers of the show later, and it really was just like we were talking to friends we had known beyond just podcasting interviews. Thank you Bards, we can’t wait to see you tour around this area so we can be shameless fanboys for ya, yet again.