AnimeNext 2007 was held once again in the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, NJ. Being held the weekend following Anime Expo in Long Beach, California, the convention attracted mostly locals and some east coast residents, but fewer from across the nation. With Otakon being held two weeks later, many people probably had to choose between these conventions. The main convention facilities are the Expo Center's main hall, a gigantic open room which was subdivided into smaller areas, including main events, the dealer's hall, and artist's alley. While this was generally not a problem, the lights for the main events section could not be dimmed independently, so the light remained on during all hours, even for events like the concert and anime music videos when they should have been turned down. Other facilities were in the conference rooms of the many nearby hotels, making it a bit of a walk between different attractions, but the whole convention area was not so spread out that it was more than a short walk from one end to the other. The weather, though potentially nasty with thunderstorms, was actually fairly nice the whole weekend. The nice weather brought a lot of cosplayers and attendees out to lounge on the large green field in front of the Holiday Inn.
In addition to the Holiday Inn, both the AmeriSuites and Embassy Suites were close by, both of which provide excellent service. This service includes free breakfast buffet, their sizeable suites which can accommodate many people easily, and -- at the Embassy -- free happy hour. A good solid breakfast is very recommendable to start the day, but lunch and dinner are even easier to come by at Anime Next. Behind the Holiday Inn is a whole shopping center with numerous restaurants, from traditional American fast food to full-service restaurants, to foreign foods. The Japanese sushi place was not surprisingly often packed. And on top of all that, there was a mall nearby as well as a Wal-Mart, leaving few people wanting anything or needing to leave the area unless they wanted to. Being in such a commercial area meant that there were always people around, especially in front of the movie theater, who had no idea what was going on. People on the public bus line going through the main convention area got quite a bit of surprises with their ride.
The big events this year were the band 12012, a whole cadre of domestic voice actors, and thanks to Romeo x Juliet being pushed in the US, two of the producers for the show, Toyo Ikeda (GONZO) and Daisuke Gomi (SKY Perfect Well Think Co., Ltd.). I was happy to have a chance to interview the Japanese guests about Romeo x Juliet along with a small number of other press members. Other common events such as the Anime Music Videos and Masquerade went off pretty much expected, though the Masquerade started almost right on time, and was actually done less than 90 minutes after scheduled start time. For general cosplay, so long as the weather cooperates, the Meadowlands area is wonderful for photos with a lot of open spaces. Unfortunately, though, the culpture area in front of the Holiday Inn was under complete renovation; though next year, it should be even more useful for photography.
Links to others' photos