Animation domination: Anime festival takes over MetroTech

Animation domination: Anime festival takes over MetroTech
Photo by Jason Speakman

MetroTech is turning Japanese.

New York University–Polytechnic is hosting its 10th annual anime festival on March 15 and 16, opening its doors to cartoon superheroes, video game characters, and all manner of costumed creatures.

“It’s a chance to escape from the everyday mundane,” said Gregory Fisher, who is helping organize the event, which is also open to non-students. “And it’s a place where you can really be yourself, even if that’s a little animated.”

“SpringFestNY” drew around 1,000 people last year, and organizers believe it is the biggest — and maybe the only — Brooklyn gathering of its kind. And while costumes are optional, they are strongly encouraged.

“Wearing a costume gets you into character,” said Eddie Hooks, who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant and plans on dressing as a character from the video game “Persona 4.” “It’s like I’m my own actor on this really big stage.”

Prizes will be awarded for best costumes and best character performance during the “cosplay masquerade.” But, one costuming enthusiast said, dressing up is its own reward.

“When you put a lot of time into making the costume and people compliment you on it, it feels really good,” said Shabbir Hussaine from East New York, who uses the cosplay name Kyon. “It’s the best.”

The festival will also have panel discussions with anime voice actors, video game tournaments, and anime-inspired musical acts — including a “Final Fantasy” cover band that plays music from the epic game series.

There will also be a Japanese soda drinking competition.

The soda, called Ramune, comes in a variety of weird flavors such as wasabi, curry, and corn soup, and has a marble that blocks the narrow neck of the bottle — making it difficult to drink quickly. The challenge is more about speed than quantity, at least until the last round, when the judges get to pick how many bottles competitors have to down.

“How much you drink depends on how sadistic the judge is feeling,” said Fisher.

New this year is a festival-wide digital scavenger hunt. Organizers will hide QR codes — those complicated bar codes that can be read by a smart phone — all around the event. Attendees can scan the codes they find and a few lucky winners will stumble across codes with a prize attached.

But for all the bizarre contests, elaborate costumes, and kimchi-flavored sodas, Fisher said the best thing about “SpringFestNY” is the people.

“You can’t really have a good convention without good attendees,” he said. “It’s really all about the community.”

“SpringFestNY” at NYU-Polytechnic (6 MetroTech Center at Jay Street, www.springfestny.com). March 15 and 16. $12–$35.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.