AnimeNext took place on June 8th to June 10th in the Atlantic City Convention Center for the third year, after the move from the now closed Garden State Exhibit Center. The move mainly was due to crowding, as well as changes to the center, which turned into an electronics warehouse.
The con is now settled into this new location after a few years of getting adjusted.
There were some safety concerns among the younger crowd during the first two years of the move. However, said concerns have went down significantly: I’ve noticed that as long as you stay in the area and within the convention center’s general shopping pathways, at Tanger Outlet , or even by the boardwalk, it is safe. As always, I recommend staying with a friend or group if you do decide to venture off.
Unlike previous years, I came to this event on a Friday for pre-registration instead of on Thursday. Not only did I save money on the hotel, I came early and only waited ten minutes if that, for my badge. Not a lot of panels caught my interest until Sunday’s Japanese coffee panel, so I figured Friday would be the best day to start.
Friday: I cosplayed as three characters, all of the cosplays I brought with me to the con. It was a record for any con I’ve attended. I arrived to the con as Super Sailor Moon. I cosplayed as Super Sailor Moon five years back and improved the cosplay. I really made a bunch of people happy. I love that cosplay can give me the ability to “become” characters and embody their strength.
Next, I cosplayed as Star Butterfly from Star Vs. The Forces of Evil. I hosted a photoshoot that day. Although I fumbled a bit with the shoot, some aspects of the shoot, mainly communicating the location to attendees, as the con wanted to try out adding unofficial shoots to the official con’s schedule . There were a few organizational mishaps with this. More on that later. On Friday night, I briefly cosplayed as Weiss from RWBY for a brief test run. The test went by very well! There was a picture/purikura booth in the dealers’ room and I went in there around twice to take cute pictures of my cosplays.
Saturday: I helped fellow alumni from my high school host a RWBY photoshoot. I sort of took the reins on the shoot and to be honest, as a little nervous due to the huge turnout, mainly in terms of communicating to others and getting my voice heard. But other fans helped me, whether it be supplying a mega phone, or giving me some pointers. It all worked out well. Another Weiss cosplayer thanked me for helping host the shoot. It made me pretty happy to hear that there were people out there who enjoyed it. I then had a shoot with a photographer to get shots of my Weiss cosplay! The shoot went well, but I got tired after being in my Weiss cosplay for a bit and changed back into normal clothes. The dealer’s room/artist’s alley exit was changed on Saturday and this took a few people, myself included, for a loop. All attendees at a certain point had to take a long trek through the video game room in order to get out of the dealer’s room/artist alley and it remained this way throughout the weekend.
Sunday: I loved the Japanese coffee panel. It was the only panel I attended. I have went to this panel for the past three years it has been running and learn something new as the panel changes and grows. As a avid drinker of coffee and person who admires Japan, the panel combined both, going through past and modern history of coffee, as well as statistics on the commodity’s growth. Japanese convenience stores and vending machines selling hot and iced coffee were also mentioned, as well. After the panel, my friend and I went back to dealer’s room/artist’s alley. My friend from Lisa Lamhut Illustration drew a water color illustration of my original character from the project I am working on. I really love her work and plan on getting a frame for it soon. After taking one more sweep of the dealer’s room, we hit the road.
I wanted to give some feedback for the con. This year overall was so-so in comparison to the two year’s prior. It wasn’t amazing or really bad, more so in the middle.
*The size of the dealer’s room and artist’s alley. Both areas had a great variety of items. There were the usual figures and plushies, in addition to an entire booth dedicated to ita bags.
*Accessibility to food and shopping–Tanger Outlet was only a short walk from the convention center and offered a decent amount of places to eat.
*Social media gave attendees the chance to stay in touch during the event. There are two main AnimeNext pages: the page itself and a group made so attendees, mainly cosplayers, can reach out to one another. The group is very active and helped build up excitement both before and during the con and at the time of this post, remains very active while cosplayers look for photographers who took their photo.
*Pre-reg was about ten minutes, if that, on Friday. It had to be the speediest pre-reg I have ever been to at this con.
*The shuttle service was an improvement from previous years. However, at the con center, it was not clear which shuttle went to which hotel. Plus, some of the drivers were a little rude when I asked them where we were going. The speed of the shuttles varied. I’ve heard some people had to wait a very long time for their ride, while others had speedy service. The shuttle service is a great premise, it just needs some fine tuning. I think if shuttles have a sign on them in terms of where they are going, it can help make things a little more clear for attendees.
*Staff were mostly pleasant and helpful, without hovering too much on attendees. I only had a little bit of an issue with how one red shirted staff member talked to attendees. The volunteer was manning the dealer’s room exit for a bit. She really didn’t seem like she wanted to be there. She snapped at a group of attendees, then grumbled under her breath.
*I also felt that the photobooth staff were a little overworked. They seemed a little disoriented and did not get enough sleep.
*Staff members were great and I didn’t have any major issues. I’m leaning more towards neutral on this one rather than on the con side, because there was only one staff member I wasn’t too keen on. Staff at prop check was very respectful of the work that was put into assembling my sword, and handled the prop with utmost care.
*Several fan made photo shoots were scheduled with the convention in reserved spots. However, there was not any signage on where these spots were located and I had to dig for a map that showed the locations–it ended up being on the google signup forms for the shoots, which is a pretty inconspicuous spot. The Guidebook didn’t have a map of the photo shoot locations available for easy access until late Friday or on Saturday.
*The dealer’s room/artist’s alley exist was changed. Originally there was a very convenient exit that made it a breeze to walk in and out. However, this was changed into a rather inconvenient exit that forced people to go through the huge video game room and walk significantly farther and out of the way. I was a little frustrated with this change. The dealer’s room is a location with a lot of noise, crowds, and in the case of a few vendors, loud music. Sometimes this part of a con can be a little overwhelming for people. I think a quick and speedy exit is important, with convenience as a priority.
*I did not like the way artist alley communication worked. Although I am new to artist alley, I was waitlisted and was preparing for the con just incase. There was no communication after I was waitlisted on whether or not a spot opened up. I am not sure if this is normal for a convention.
As a whole, I think it was a neutral experience. Many of the panels didn’t catch my interest. Though the purikura booth, speed of pre-reg, and the commission of my character were highlights of the con. The dealer’s room/artist alley also had a pretty good selection. I think this was just a little bit of an off year. I’ve been going to this con since around 2010 and plan on returning next year.