Over the years I have usually gone in whole hog with panels at AnimeNEXT. Last year I did five panels which was quite a workload. This year in order to fully take in the new location of the convention I only did two panels. This let me experience more of the Atlantic City Convention Center experience without Kate to back me up. Hopefully that will get everyone a better sense of the selection of quality panels that have increasingly become a hallmark of AnimeNEXT.
While I liked several things about Somerset it was hardly a major destination city. You rarely hear people overseas making elaborate plans to visit the first Marconi Wireless Station. The real draw for guests was the fact that NYC is not that far away. Atlantic City on the other hand acts as far more of a singular draw to guests. It might not be Vegas but the allure of gambling can draw some names that might over wise pass the convention by. I can’t say how many of the guests were here because of that but AnimeNEXT 2016 has a fairly impressive lineup that is distinctly worth talking about.
AnimeNEXT has moved several times since it started. I remember the incredible convenience of the Meadowlands Exposition Center and the apprehension of the move to the Garden State Exhibit Center. In the end the move was let the convention grow into one of the major players in the community of East coast anime conventions. In fact that growth eventually meant that even the Garden State Exhibit Center was far too small for what AnimeNEXT would become. The last few years have felt like ten pounds of convention in an eight pound bag. While it was clear that a move was needed again the same anxieties popped up again. Would the new venue be too far away? Would the area be conducive to the convention? Would the fans make the move with the event? Will we somehow be able to see Kenjiro Hata as a guest at an American convention?
I know these were just questions I was wondering. I also ran into people at both Castle Point Anime Convention, Anime Fan Fest, and the Internet who were all asking the same questions. I heard equal amounts of trepidation, enthusiasm, and apathy. But all of the talk was just idle speculation mixed with more than a little emphasis on self-interested perspectives. The real test would come with the first weekend in Atlantic City. Now that I am back from AnimeNext 2016 I can help decide if the move was good idea or a bit of a misstep.
OK, most people were not asking about Kenjiro Hata but you get my point.