NYAF 2008 Con Coverage

Horrible weather may have shrouded the streets of New York City, but that didn't stop the light of greatness in a little package called the 2008 New York Anime Festival. Over 18,000 attendees flooded the Jacob Javits Conference Center in full cosplay and overflowing anticipation despite the dreary weather. The jam-packed weekend was anything but ordinary.

To recap, the collection of guests, varying in industries, was truly spectacular and definitely proved to be the main highlight of NY Anime Fest. We had Illustrator Yoshitaka Amano, Writer Hideyuki Kikuchi, representatives and designers from Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, Iron Chef Masharu Morimoto, Voice Actress Rie Tanaka, Artist Ryo Moto, and plenty more. NYAF 2008 also brought about Karaterice's Far East to East Showcase (FETE) which featured a full concert line-up and a slew of musical acts including BakuBeni, echostream, Falsies on Heat, MiniRex, Notorious MSG, Quaff, and Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re. Other musical guests included Voltaire, MC Chris, Love etc., and HAPPYFUNSMILE.

What better way to enjoy a huge con such as this, than in VIP style. Armed with my Vampire Hunter D VIP pass, I was ready for action. I've already covered the major industry panels in previous posts, so I won't go too much into them here. But the panels that stood out the most would be the Vampire Hunter D-related panels featuring Hideyuki Kikuchi, Yoshitaka Amano, and Kevin Leahy.

Though the trio really haven't spent much time together, it was great to see them all in one room interacting with each other. Good news for avid VHD fans, Kikuchi is not losing any steam. He is truly a writer at heart and is determined to write until he can't write anymore. The VHD saga will continue on so long as he remains. This statement is not surprising if you've read his works. It's quite the experience and I've always admire the level of detail in everything he does. Yoshitaka Amano has a very fun, light personality and in one of the panels, when his "Heroes" line of work came up, he mentioned wanting to do a story of a different kind of hero: Tako-man (Octopus Man). In his explanation, he was very animated and I felt privledged to be sitting so close to a legend such as him.

The duo is quite an interesting pair and when asked about the process of doing the illustrations in conjunction with the novel, there were some differing opinions. Kikuchi claims that Amano chooses which scenes he does illustrations of, but Amano claimed that he doesn't make the choices either. There are several factors that determine which scenes get drawn and a part of it lies with Mr. Ishii, the Japanese editor and the pacing of the book. The panels were stuffed with some much information, that I feel if I go on much longer, I won't end. So I'd better move on.

As an added bonus, a special reading of the Vampire Hunter D short story, The Wanderer's Ship, was performed after the panel. The reading was done by voice actors Veronica Taylor, Tom Wayland, Rachel Lillis, and Mike Sinterniklaas.

Just to give another example of the con's true versatility and its aim of covering everything Japanese, NYAF 2008 hosted the first ever Lolita Fashion Show. It was a rare treat to see lolita fashions straight from the source - Japan's Baby, The Stars Shine Bright.

On the merchant side of things, there was plenty to see. Exhibition booths lined up a huge chunk of the main floor, to the point where if you're not careful, you may just end up spending your entire time (and money) in the exhibition hall alone. While the manga end didn't seem as big as I would have imagined, the anime poured over. Funimation and Bandai had a great setup. Bandai, especially, as it was free stuff galore in the midst of performing the "Lucky Star" dance. Plushes, figures, cosplay and props, fashion, video games, and a nice artist alley made up the rest of the hall. And whenever you needed to take a breather, you could take a short visit to the Maid Cafe.

As you can imagine with a con of this proportion, the cosplay was anything but boring or redundant. I was most impressed with a Death Note Ryuk cosplayer, and some of the Gurren Lagann folks.

Since I was busy having a blast at the Hideyuki Kikuchi Birthday Party Dinner on Sunday, I was unable to attend the after-party at Morimoto's restaurant. I'm sure that was another awesome way to end the con. Overall and as expected, NYAF 2008 was a huge success. Careful planning from Peter and his team definitely paid off, and was a massive improvement, hands-down, from last year. The autograph session was very organized, the programming was packed and varied, and it seemed they improved on their shuttle availability. As I prepare for Anime USA, I think it's still safe to say that NYAF 2008 has got to be the con of the year. No regrets here.

For even more pics, check out the links below:

NYAF 2008 - General
Vampire Knight/Death Note Cosplay
Lolita Fashion Show
more links to come soon...

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