Meanwhile at NYAF…Attendance up 16 percent

We’re hearing that the New York Anime Fest was a big hit. Lance Fensterman, who runs the show, reports:

Saturday was by far the most insanely busy day in the history of the New York Anime Fest. Unbelievable numbers of people. But even with the crowds, we managed to count them all and this year’s attendance including fans, professionals, press, guests/speakers but NOT exhibiting staffers was 21,388! Woot! That’s a 16% increase over last year’s 18,399.That’s an awesome number of otaku roaming the aisles, sitting in panels and dancing all over the Javits Center this weekend.


The fantasy economy is strong!

We haven’t done a scientific blog scan, but this, from one Jack Shippo seemed to be representative:

And packed it was. The amount of attendees for Saturday was nearly triple the amount on Friday from what I could see (My brain hurts from lack of sleep so my estimation skills are weak right now). Compared to Friday though, the con was really fun! The day started with walking around the dealers room jumping from shiny object to shiny object to cheap object to overly priced object I dreamed of having (Yay for A.D.D!) and deciding to waste money or not. This was easy because there was hardly anything that really drew my attention in the dealers room that I could afford, only things I really bought were a gashapon Witch Yuki (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) figure and a gashapon Yoko Kurama figure (Yu Yu Hakusho). The dealers room was pretty crowded during the day but it wasn’t crowded to the point of not being able to breathe all the time. It did get unbearable in certain areas though, and smelly too….


The strong attendance is despite the show having relatively few vendors and becoming more of a social occasion for con-goers. Next year, the NYAF will be held concurrently with New York Comic-Con, a situation which will doubtless bring new challenges.

Comments

  1. Ali T. Kokmen says:

    “The strong attendance is despite the show having relatively few vendors and becoming more of a social occasion for con-goers.”

    Having just completed Del Rey Manga’s participation at New York Anime Festival, I just wanted to clarify/opine a bit on these observations.

    If you mean that NYAF has “relatively few vendors,” you mean that the raw number of NYAF vendors was less than that of, say, a New York Comic Con, then that’s probably true…but then again, NYAF is a smaller show. Certainly, the vast majority of exhibitors as NYAF 2009 were indeed vendors/dealers; the show floor certainly didn’t seem to lack for lots of booths selling lots of interesting things to lots of attendees.

    Also, the idea that an anime/J-Pop show is for attendees primarily a social occasion for con-goers is, I think, an important point. Around the office, I (only somewhat) facetiously say that I’m working on a Grand Theory of Fandom. One of that theory’s tenets holds that the anime/J-Pop otaku are a different kind of fan than, say, a typical mainstram comics fan. And I don’t mean that just in simplistic demographic terms (age, ethnicity, geographic location, etc.) but rather that the way in which an otaku engages with the thing he/she is a fan of tends to be very different for fans of other kinds. It’s a more uncritical, wholehearted, earnest, unconditional affection than you see in many (but not all) other fandoms.

    Exactly what the ramifications of this difference is, well, I haven’t exactly worked out. But I do think that because of that difference, anime otaku are likely to value conventions as opportunities for community socializing–as their Third Place–beyond all the other things that a convention offers.

    Or, putting things less verbosely, I don’t think NYAF (or any anime/J-pop focused event) has *become* more of a social event for con-goers; I think that anime/J-Pop conventions have *always* been more about socializing than many other kinds of gatherings.

  2. [I was going to use that classic Weekend Update Point/Counterpoint tagline “Jane, you ignorant…”, but Ali’s too nice a guy.]

    1) “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.” –Douglas Adams. Or, to sound even more pompous, Adair’s Theory of Quantum Demographics: “As soon as someone defines a particular demographic group or individual, that definition will cause the observed person(s) to react and change (“I’m nothing like that!”) thereby requiring a revised definition. The corollary is that undefined demographics tend to thrive as the individuals define themselves, until discovered by an outside observer.

    2)

  3. 1) “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.” –Douglas Adams. Or, to sound even more pompous, Adair’s Theory of Quantum Demographics: “As soon as someone defines a particular demographic group or individual, that definition will cause the observed person(s) to react and change (“I’m nothing like that!”) thereby requiring a revised definition.” The corollary is that undefined demographics tend to thrive as the individuals define themselves until discovered by an outside observer.

    2) Perhaps the fans are happy cheerful individuals because they have not yet been stung by the bitter heartbreak of hyperbole, or blinded by the concentrated laser of nostalgia. Are there disgruntled otaku in Japan, where manga and anime have existed for decades? Was comics fandom like this back in the 1960s and 70s?

    3) I attended last year for the first time (the first NYAF was held during the holiday season, and as a retailer, could not pick the lock which chained me to the register. (“Back to your register, 41!”) Last year, the dealer room was not crowded, yet featured many publishers and vendors. The vibe I got was that is was more like a Science Fiction convention (where the original otaku migrated from… the first anime in the U.S. had SF themes). Lots of cool stuff, people having fun, some naughty stuff late at night. Lots of big fishes in small ponds, which is cool, because there isn’t as much separation between professionals and fans. I’m not a big manga fan, but I found stuff to buy there (a few t-shirts, some DVDs).

    4) By attendance, how does this rank among anime/manga festivals? (In the U.S.! No fair comparing this to Komiket!) I think ANY con would be happy with 21K attendance, and for a specialized con like this, it’s hugely successful.

  4. Anime Expo in LA is the biggest, with 44,000 in attendance this year.

    http://www.anime-expo.org/2009/07/05/anime-exporeg-2009-continues-to-hold-the-title-of-nations-largest-anime-and-manga-event-with-a-record-number-of-over-44000-in-attendance/

    Anime Central in Rosemont, IL, which feels like a very big convention, had 17,000 this year, so 21k is definitely nothing to sneeze at.

  5. Ali T. Kokmen says:

    “By attendance, how does this rank among anime/manga festivals? (In the U.S.! No fair comparing this to Komiket!)”

    According to information gathered by animecons.com for 2008, NYAF was the third most attended anime festival of that year, behind AnimeExpo and Otakon, and just ahead of A-Kon

    For 2009, AnimeExpo reported attendance of “over 44,000″ attendees and Otakon reported attendance of 26,586, so it seems NYAF 2009’s 21,388 attendees keeps them squarely as the U.S.’s third largest anime-centric festival for the year.

  6. I enjoyed NYAF ’09 on many levels. First if we’re lucky to have great fans as well as having many vibrant conventions / communities through out the country. The impact of these social gatherings greatly outweighs more than just what the fans purchase at the show. They sustain the enthusiasm of the end users. BTW, all that talk about manga sales is slowing down? Silly idea. When Hollywood hits a slow period does that mean people no longer want to watch movies? Pay attention, the manga fandom is strong. Keep giving them strong products and they will come.

  7. All I know is that this year’s con made me feel really, really old. I was there only on Saturday, but in the morning, there were lots of times when I felt like the only people around me who were over 18 were the vendors, making me more than twice the age of the average con goer. My gut reaction to a lot of the cosplayers wasn’t “Great costume!” but “Does your mother know you’re here unsupervised?”

    This changed by the afternoon (and the Yoshiyuki Tomino panel, since most of the younger otaku don’t seem to care about titles that are 30 years old) and I’ve always felt that NYAF skewed a lot younger than NYCC, but it really seemed to be vast seas of young people this year.

  8. michael says:

    Wow, 21k+ is a lot of people! O.O

    Undoubtedly, that same number won’t be showing at the next NYCC though…and I don’t know why Lance would be so happy, this being the last of the NYAC, I mean, I guess it’s nice to have that many paying attendees, but? O.o

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