New York Anime Festival 08

It might have been a hazy, humid weekend but that wasn’t enough to stop the New York Anime Festival from returning for its second year–even if rain meant getting to the Jacob Javitz Center in costume was more trouble than usual.

The NYAF, a self-described spin-off of the New York Comic-Con (in itself a spin-off of the now legendary San Diego version), showed significant growth, adding more  hours and more special guests and panels. And following the footsteps of its counterparts, organizers Lance Fensterman and Peter Tatara intended the NYAF to not only be an exhibition of anime and manga but a celebration of “all that is part of Japanese pop culture.”

Thus, the return and expansion of Japanese cultural export, the Maid Cafe. The picture above should say it all. Boasting “more tables, more chairs, and a much wider variety of food including traditional Japanese snacks, some classic American fare, a selection of premium coffees, designer sandwiches, and new, scrumptious desserts!” This year’s maids were equipped to entertain with an array of Japanese games. There were also supposed to be butlers this year but I didn’t see any–not to say they misrepresented the butlers, but to say I missed them for reasons out if NYAF’s control.

Ultimately, the Japanese pop culture features such as Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto (Nobu), Japanese punk band BakuBeni, voice actress Rie Tanaka and MC Chris (not Japanese but featured nonetheless) didn’t exactly transmogrify the NYAF into the pop culture megalith that is the SDCC. The festival was low-key and very much catered to the more passionate fans of anime, manga and cosplay. With a more specific group of interests, exhibitioners are more focused on them as well. Attendees just seemed more at ease here whether due to the slower pace of the NYAF or a more tightly-knit group of fans; there were a helluva lot of costumes, maybe more (per capita) than any of the New York Anime Festival’s more popular counterparts.


A foam weapons tournament… I don’t how many times I tried to organize something like this as a kid but they never seemed to work out because everyone cheated. No one wanted to lose.

I couldn’t stay for the entirety of the event but I saw this warm-up match (with a referee, no less). They played fair… more or less.


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