Where Cosplay and Casinos Collide
by Bob Johnson
Conventional wisdom suggests that a hotel stay on Boardwalk costs $2000, or so Rich Uncle Pennybags had always said. So it came as a shock that not only was it reasonable to visit Atlantic City – it was possible to do so with some twelve thousand other weeaboos, for only a couple hundred dollars.
The crowd is a mix of relatively older, experienced otaku, all willing to trek to this resort town for a weekend. The panels are a diverse mix within the fandom, with some particularly interesting travelogues mixed in. There’s a reasonable slate of 18+ panels, especially compared with other regional cons that try too hard to be “family friendly”. The con also has dedicated RPG and Tabletop Game rooms, for the nerd who likes to meet new faces under a particular ruleset. Or just sit down at the Video Games room, where a reasonable selection of console, PC, and arcade games await.
You need not spend all weekend cooped up in the con… For the three and a half days of the convention, the famous green-and-white Jitneys ferry convention members to several hotels across town, as late as 3am. And if you like Rail Wars!, you’ll love the way the four-storey Atlantic City Convention Center sits directly atop the local New Jersey Transit railhub for fast rail service via Philadelphia.
The membership fee of $65 includes access to dozens of panels, many with energetic group participation, a reasonably sized dealer/artist room, and a modest but serious slate of industry guests. As the anime industry is cozier than ever, it doesn’t take much to get big names at a medium-sized con like this. Even past the headliners like Johnny Young Bosch (Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, Knights of Sidonia), familiar faces from the FUNimation bench can be found in the background, if you happen to know who’s who. Sadly, some invited guests like TeddyLoid (Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt) couldn’t quite make it, though the dance was fun anyway.
If there’s anything of note that’s missing, it might be water – many other cons of this size obsessively stock tanks of the stuff everywhere. Though paid concessions are abundant at AnimeNEXT, water fountains and courtesy cups are less common.
AnimeNEXT is neither huge nor small, but certainly memorable. It’s a reasonably decent con in the classic American getaway town. Worth the time, if you’re nearby, or you like a few spins on a table game with your weekend!
Look it up:
AnimeNEXT – Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City Convention Center
2nd weekend in June