New York Comic Con 2012

Note: The following is cross-posted from Gemakei. This also appeared there first since my position at Gemakei is the reason I get to go to NYCC in the first place. This was also intended to go up much, much earlier than it is. Thanks to a hard drive failure, this is only going up now. Nonetheless, enjoy.

Until now.

I think it’s safe to say at this point that October is my favorite month of the year. For the past three years now, for me, October has marked the arrival of New York Comic Con after months of waiting. As like last year, NYCC was a four-day event, lasting the 11th-14th, with the 11th being more of a Press/Pros/VIP/4-Day Pass Preview Day. While someday I would love to attend all four days the convention now runs for (it was only three days when I first went in 2010), NYCC started the evening of Friday the 12th for me with speed-walking through the crowded convention center to get in line for the first panel I’d be attending.

Day 1 – Friday, October 12th: Finally.

Rather than checking out the show floor upon arrival, I headed straight over to the other side of the Javits Center to Hall A for the JManga Presents: Masakazu Ishiguro panel. Why? I’ll admit it – the potential giveaways. A figma and Nexus 7 tablet up for grabs? Sounds like a good way to start to me. And for the record, no, that wasn’t the only reason I went to the panel. For those of you unfamiliar with JManga, JManga is an online site for reading manga – legally. It’s been around for at least a year now and while it does have a decent lineup of manga, I’ll admit it doesn’t have any I’m interested in. Yet. I went to the panel hoping to hear some news that would spark my interest in taking another look at JManga.

In traditional panel fashion, things kicked off with introductions and some background information: Robert Newman from JManga, Featured Guest Masakazu Ishiguro, and Editor Masahiro Ohno. Three names I personally had never heard of. The panel proceeded with a prepared Q&A between panelists, which quickly escalated into a humorous affair, especially when Masakazu Ishiguro announced he often draws his manga in the bath. Yes, the bath. Following the Q&A was a short live drawing session from Ishiguro followed up by another Q&A session from the audience that also became equally as entertaining as the prepared Q&A.

The finished sketch.

Following the Masakazu Ishiguro panel, it was time to dart down the hall to get in line for the next panel of the night, the Gaia Online Experience. While it likely has been over a year now since I last logged on to the site, I wasn’t about to break what had become an NYCC tradition for me by skipping the panel this year. Like the JManga panel, I was hoping to hear something that would entice me to come back to the site. While I can’t say that hearing zOMG! would no longer be maintained achieved that goal, the panel was nonetheless enjoyable, complete with a handstand to close out the panel (that I asked for in the Q&A). As always, it was a panel that gave away plenty of [digital] swag.

Finishing up the night was the The Truth About the Hobbit panel. Given that the panel was full of spoilers, I’ll refrain from going into detail about it. However, if you had even the slightest interest in The Hobbit and didn’t mind hearing a few spoilers, it was easily a must-see panel. Personally, I found it to be a good preparation for the movie as even though I’ve started reading the book three times now, I’ve never actually finished it. After an hour of spoilers galore, it was time to call it a night.

Day 2 – Saturday, October 13th: Sleep? Who Needs Sleep?

Even though the pro tips/survival guide/”rules” say to get a full night’s sleep, I got a whopping two hours. I was on a mission, and I decided that mission was more important than sleep. I arrived at the Javits Center at 8am sharp in hopes I would be able to get a ticket to the private signing by Danny Choo. Let’s just say I had plenty of time to get one. When I asked where the line was for the tickets, rather than be directed to a line, I was simply handed one instead. Then it was time to get in a line: the line to get into the show floor that had two hours to go before opening.

The line just a handful of minutes before 10.

Two hours of Uncharted: Golden Abyss later (which was enough time to finally finish it), it was time to head up to the show floor until 2:30pm. First stop: Ni No Kuni at the NBGI booth. At last, I could finally get my on hands it. And boy, was it worth the wait.

Trust me, my horrible attempt at recording my first of twenty play-throughs of the demo doesn’t do Ni No Kuni justice. It is absolutely a must-have for PS3. The visuals are fantastic. The writing is fantastic. The music is phenomenal. Simply put, the wait for a video game from Studio Ghibli has been worth every millisecond. I will definitely be trying to pick up the Wizard’s Edition, which it appears Bandai has currently stopped selling. Looks like it may now be too late to do so. Damn.

At long last.

After spending about an hour of playing Ni No Kuni over and over again, I decided it was time to have my wallet completely and utterly destroyed. It was time to check out the Good Smile Company booth. It was a small one with limited stock for sale, but it was good enough for me. Good Smile Company finally had a booth at NYCC.

One of the beautiful exclusives on display. Sold-out of course.

On display was nearly the entire Nendoroid collection, posters of up coming products, and some stunning exclusives, a few of which had already sold-out. While I found it interesting that only the show-exclusive figmas were the only figmas on display, the massive display of Nendoroids was enough to get my drool going – and my first purchase of a Nendoroid.

Wallets beware. These were the best prices though. By far.

With my wallet now half-empty and thirty minutes to go before the first panel of the day, I started wandering the show floor to see what the show had in store this year. It was only a short walk from Good Smile Company’s booth that I found another booth that caught my eye: the Necomimi booth. In case you don’t know what they are, the Necomimi are literally a set of cat ears that sit on top of your head that respond to your brainwaves. If that sounds crazy, I agree, which is why I had to try a set out. I’ll say it flat-out, you’ll likely make a fool of yourself by wearing them, especially outside of a convention full of Otaku, but you do get a kick out of wearing them – especially when you get Bane to wear a pair too. That drew a crowd very quickly.

New plan: reverse-engineer these kitty ears so that they can be used for mind control.

However, at $100 a pair, the Necomimi’s novelty is a fairly large investment. If you have $100 to spare for some good laughs though, by all means, go for it. They do in fact work rather well. With my gut now ready to burst from laughing so hard, it was time to walk around a little more before heading over to Hall A again for the Danny Choo panel. If there was just one panel at NYCC that I absolutely had to attend, it was Danny Choo’s. I could attempt to explain who Danny is and what he does, but I think it’s much easier to just point you over to his site instead. As Sony was conveniently located right in the middle of my walk, I decided to drop in the booth to see what was on display and to try to find the Nico Nico livestream. After demoing Ragnarok Odyssey, I decided to slide down a few TVs to drop in on the Nico Nico stream and

Danny Choo (aka the Tokyo Stormtrooper)

If you’ve been to one of Danny’s panels before, you already know what it’s about. If you haven’t been to one, feel free to virtually attend the one from NYCC by watching the recording below.

After Danny’s panel, it was time to head over to another JManga panel, this time one devoted solely to new announcements. Again, I had never heard of any of the titles that were announced, but it does sound like JManga has grown quite a bit over the past year. After the JManga panel, it was off to have waking up at 4:00am pay off: a private autographing session with Danny Choo.

I know I’ve already said this more than a few times, but I’ll say it again, thank you, Danny, for coming to NYCC this year. It was an honor meeting you in person. With my mission now accomplished for the day, it was time to head back up to the show floor for more wandering around before the Yen Press panel. Sadly, the panel took place on what was called the “Unbound Stage” rather than a panel room. The “stage” was a raised platform in a large, open hall on the lower level of the convention center, Hall B, that if the echo in the hall wasn’t horrible enough already, it was home to the public autographing booths and yet another stage. Add all of that together and you have a sound nightmare. However, despite the sonic mud, the Yen Press panel had plenty of announcements in store before opening up to an audience Q&A. The panel wrapped up with what has to be the best panel giveaway I’ve seen at NYCC yet: your choice of one of three mangas, free. I decided to go for the fourth volume of Durarara!! Yen Press, you guys rock.

Publishers give out the best swag.

After the Yen Press panel, it was time to call it a day and get some now much-needed sleep.

Day 3 – Sunday, October 14th: Does It Have to End?

The arrival of Sunday sadly marked the arrival of the last day on NYCC for the year. It was time to get through the entire show floor and make sure nothing noteworthy was missed. The first stop of the day was Sony to check out the displays one last time. This time I decided to try out LittleBigPlanet Karting, which after getting the controls down (the Move steering wheel is quite sensitive), was rather enjoyable. It plays very much like ModNation Racers, just with less customization present. After finally getting to walk through the entire show floor, it was off to the Namco Bandai Games and CyberConnect2 panel, which was about creating games for both Japan and “the Western World”. The panel’s featured guests were Hideo Baba of the Tales Of series of games and Hiroshi Matsuyama CEO and President of CyberConnect2, who you might know for the Naruto games series (personally, I know them for a different series which is a little too steamy for here.)

There was plenty of energy throughout the panel.

The panel was fantastic. Just as the panel name promised, it was home to a great discussion about creating games that would appeal both to audiences in Japan and other countries. The panel also featured a prepared Q&A session between the panel guests and moderators, and teasers of both the next installment in the Naruto series and Tales of (Tales of Xillia for the US) series, both of which looked awesome, but I think I’ll pass on the Naruto one. After the NBGI panel, it was off to get in line for the Hatsune Miku panel – or at least try. Turns out, third time really is the charm. After trying to get in unsuccessfully the past two years, I was finally able to make it in this year. NYCC, thank you for not clearing rooms after panels end. Prior to the Miku panel was a panel for Sleeping Dogs, which I had never heard off prior to standing in the line for its panel. It looked like an OK game from Square-Enix and United Front, but I wouldn’t call it a must-play from what was shown at the panel.

Third try’s the charm.

At last it was time for the Hatsune Miku panel. Two years ago, Crypton Future Media announced at NYCC 2010 that an English version of Hatsune Miku would be released if her Facebook page received 39,390 likes (39 in Japanese sounds like “Thank You” in English when the 3 and 9 are read individually, “san” and “kyü”.) Two years and 756,981 Likes (at time of writing) later, it was time for an update. And boy, did we get one. Yes, I’ll admit I did record the demo, but I’d rather not have my ass sued off by Crypton. So here’s someone else’s recording instead.

So yes, it’s still in development. But I’ll take it. Also demoed was the English voice bank for Kaito. Besides demos and announcements, the panel also focused on explaining what both Vocaloid and Hatsune Miku really are, including licensing details for songs created using the two softwares. After the Miku panel was over, it was off to the show floor one last time. First up was one last stop at Good Smile Company to fully clear out my wallet. A Hatsune Miku Nendoroid had the honor of doing that, the display one too. Following that, it was off to

Cya next year NYCC.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, it was another tiring, yet exciting year. This year was the first year “and Anime Festival” was dropped from the show title. From the signage last year, you got the feeling it was coming; compared to 2010, almost every sign in 2011 only said New York Comic Con with just a small bunch reading New York Anime Festival instead. Also gone this year was the Saturday night masquerade, also known as three-hour line hell. However, the costumes on display as well as the skits usually made the line from hell worth it. On the topic of lines, it appears it only took three years to do so, but it appeared as if NYCC finally fixed their outrageous lines problem. Doors to get into the Javits Center were color-coded this year with badges checked right at the door. For the early hours of the show, entrances to the show floor were also separated, and oh how nice it was to be able to use the Pro entrance. No more cramped escalators, although stairs would be a better word (it seemed like a new escalator broke down every hour, on the hour). In terms of size, the show felt smaller this year, both in turnout and physical size. However, I wouldn’t fault Reedpop for the physical size part as the Javits Center is still undergoing renovations, but they are making it a much more visually appealing convention center. Now while I can’t say for sure if it was because “and Anime Festival” was dropped from the show name or not, but it also felt like there was a lot less anime and manga present at the show, both in terms of guests and panels. While that did concern me, I wouldn’t rule out returning again next year.

Bottom line, job well done Reedpop. You managed to fix a lot of the problems 2010 and 2011 suffered from this year. While the downsizing of the anime part of the show concerned me, I would still say I am overall satisfied with the show again this year – if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have skipped the NYCC Team Q&A panel that I originally saved on the show app (this was the first year they even had one). I definitely hope to be back again next year. If you’d like to see all the pictures I took this year, head on over to Facebook. Thanks to a hard drive failure, that’s the only place where I still have all of them.

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