Who else was at AnimeNEXT 2017 this year? It was my first time attending AnimeNEXT in Atlantic City! The only other time I had been to ANEXT was back in 2014. This year, AnimeNEXT took place from June 9-11. I traveled there via Peter Pan bus on Thursday, and from the bus terminal, it was pretty easy to find the convention center. The convention center was located near a bunch of outlet shops, close to a McDonald’s, Starbucks, and more. I stayed at the Sheraton, which was amazing since it was literally right across the street from the convention center. The convenience definitely took some of the travel stress away!
On Day Zero, after chilling in the hotel room for a bit, I changed into a closet cosplay of Hatsune Miku. I wore some J-punk fashion for this cosplay (Putumayo and Sex Pot Revenge, to be exact), and it was fun to combine two of my favorite hobbies together. Even though the con didn’t start yet, there were already lots of cosplayers out and about. I wasn’t able to pick up my press pass until Friday morning, but people who pre-registered as regular attendees could get their passes on Thursday. I checked out the lines, and they didn’t seem too crazy long on Thursday. For dinner on Thursday night, I opted for McDonald’s because it was close by and cheap. At night, I didn’t feel unsafe walking back, but I heard some areas were sketchy and it’s best to stay in groups. Safety at the con and in close proximity to the con (like in the area with the outlets) was fine though. If your hotel was farther from the con, I heard a lot of attendees walked in big groups or drove back to stay safe.
When Friday morning rolled around, I woke up really early from sheer excitement. I cosplayed Hinata from Haikyuu for most of this day, and it was a really comfy summer cosplay. In fact, at some points, I felt chilly in the cosplay and wanted to wear a sweatshirt (but I’m the sort of person who loves summer and easily gets cold). Breakfast at Starbucks was relaxing, and seeing other cosplayers getting their breakfasts was cool too. I love going to cons where you can see cosplayers mingling outside the cons too – in the streets, eating meals, mixed in with random non-con-going civilians, etc.
The convention center felt big, but was fairly easy to navigate. I thought the dealer’s room and artist alley were amazing! Lots of vendors, variety of merchandise, talented artists, J-fashion, and the list goes on and on. They even had a purikura machine there! To be honest, the purikura machine was probably my favorite. They also had claw machines with exciting prizes to be won (including some cool Love Live and Vocaloid figures). I even saw a booth that catered to stage play fans!
On a random note, the convention center as well as the Sheraton hotel have a Miss America theme, since Atlantic City is the home to the Miss America pageant. Outside, there was a statue of a guy holding the Miss America crown, so quite a few cosplayers posed under it to be “crowned.” Of course, my friend Lauren and I couldn’t resist “crowning” Volleyball-chan. When I tried to stand under the crown for a photo myself, I quickly realized that I was too short to comfortably stand and be “crowned,” so I had to awkwardly stand on my tiptoes. It was uncomfortable, but also funny and very memorable.
On Friday night, I went to the cosplay burlesque show, and it was my second time attending a burlesque show ever. My first time was at Conbust at Smith College. The Cosplay Burlesque show at ANEXT was amazing! It wasn’t what I expected though. I found many of the characters so surprising, but really entertaining. The first surprising character was Dory from Finding Nemo: when I saw that name pop up on the screen, I was internally freaking out and didn’t know how to react. Other surprising cosplays: the crab from Moana, Fix-It Felix from Wreck-It Ralph, and sexy Cup Noodles (yes, actual Cup Noodles like the Nissin ones). All of the costumes were amazing during the show, and it looked like all of the cosplayers were having lots of fun. I also noticed that the staff was really strict about the no photos/no videos policy; quite a few people got kicked out who had their phones out and I overheard one person arguing that she was just sending a text. To be safe, just don’t take out your phone (and you shouldn’t be on your phone anyways; just sit back and enjoy the show!). If you’re over 18, I’d highly recommend Cosplay Burlesque.
I also went to the rave that night and it was my first time at a convention dance where I stayed from the very beginning to the very end. I had so much energy, the music was great for dancing (for the most part), and people were nice! The music was really loud (but that’s to be expected), and my ears were ringing afterwards. I did a casual/closet cosplay for the rave (mostly for comfort, so I didn’t wear a wig), and I do think it’s most fun to dance while feeling comfortable! There was a mix of people in full-out cosplay, rave style or casual cosplay, and people not cosplaying at all. So whatever you decide to do, you won’t look out of place.
When Saturday morning came along, I was tired from lack of sleep so I was really lazy when I was getting into cosplay. I wanted to check out the Love Live photoshoot, and when I went there, I sat with a group of other Love Live cosplayers on the top floor of the convention center to wait for the photoshoot to start. Half an hour passed, and we wondered what was going on… Eventually, we figured out that the location had moved and we had to go downstairs to the actual location. I was upset that I missed most of the photoshoot, but also grateful that I didn’t miss the entire thing. It was a much bigger group than I expected! So many Love Live cosplayers; I assume they had to move the shoot location because it got too crowded. Even in the new location, it was really packed. After Love Live, I changed to Daiya no Ace cosplay, and that’s where my best memories of the weekend started!
Of course, I had to buy Daiya no Ace merchandise. I got some duplicates (keychains I already have), but also some new stuff (really cute folders, a Miyusawa charm from an artist, some new keychains/charms). The only non-Daiya things I bought were some pretty accessories from Sweet Mildred’s booth. At cons, I always have to visit Sweet Mildred’s booth if she’s there!
I also got to meet other Daiya no Ace fans, and it’s always exciting to meet others who are in your favorite fandom. I even had an impromptu photoshoot with one of my new friends! The weather was great outside, and the grassy area between the convention center and the Sheraton was perfect for photos.
On Saturday night, I went to the rave for a bit but not very long. I think I was there for just a half hour, and I didn’t go right at the beginning since I had dinner at McDonald’s first. The rave on Saturday night was the one for all ages, and it was decent but by Saturday night, exhaustion was starting to catch up to me (plus I had to finish packing since I was leaving on Sunday). One cool thing about the rave on Saturday night was the live singer that they had! The performer on the stage had great charisma and I could hear her great voice despite the ultra-loud music at the rave.
Sunday was the last day, and usually, Sundays tend to be the most chill days. However, Sunday was quite the opposite… I cosplayed Ruby from Aqours, and first, me and a friend cosplay Ruby and Hanamaru together and we took photos, did purikura, and chatted (about Daiya no Ace).
After, I joined a complete cosplay group — for the first time ever! The organizer somehow managed to find every character from Aqours, and no one dropped out. We walked to the beach to do a photoshoot (and sweated all the way there). We got stared at by random people on our walk there, but just ignored them. At the beach, I noticed lots of other cosplay shoots happening: swimsuit cosplays, Moana, and more. The beach is where I made a huge mistake though. I didn’t bring flip flops with me, and thought I would be fine walking barefoot since I’ve done that at beaches before. When I started running across the sand, it felt really hot but I didn’t realize it was hot enough to burn until I felt excruciating pain about halfway to the water. I ducked under an umbrella with a friend (some random lady’s umbrella), and when we checked our feet, we found they were already blistering and peeling. By that point, it didn’t matter if we ran back to get our shoes since we were already halfway to the ocean, so we sprinted the rest of the way there. The cold seawater stung my feet but also soothed them somewhat. In any case, things got worse after that and I had to keep off my feet and minimize my walking. I even had my first experience with Operation Hammond (EMTs came to check on me and evaluate my feet). I had seen Operation Hammond at many other cons before, but this was my first time having a real interaction with them.
Getting back to NYC was a nightmare due to bus problems that I don’t want to go into, but let’s just stick to the con story. All in all, ANEXT was a really fun con and I’d love to go back again. All the congoers I met were really friendly, and I didn’t have any issues with staff members either. I would love to go to AnimeNEXT again, but I would definitely need to look into other travel options.