2023 NYCC HIGHLIGHTS: A successful and resilient year.
Updated: Oct 27
Here is some of what you may have missed in this year's epic event in New York.
2023 is a challenging year in the world of entertainment. Particularly in Hollywood as we are now deep at the helms of the SAG-AFTRA strike against the AMPTP. Actors of the guild are fighting for their worth to acquire higher pay that matches up to the recent inflation, the right to not have A.I. take their likenesses to be used without consent among other issues.
The result led to a complete standstill as actors are not working which means no new episodes of your favorite series, specials, or movies will be coming until both parties reach an agreement that is fair for all.
While the strike with the WGA has ended in their favor the SAG-AFTRA strike is only just begun and currently there are no signs of compromise from either side.
This halt in Hollywood not only affects the studios but also fans who are anticipating their favorite fandoms but also fan events.
When the strike began on July 14, 2023, and the first event to feel the impact was San Diego Comic Con which is well known for its HALL-H panels featuring Marvel Studios updates, coming attractions, actors talking about their current projects and surprise appearances. However, with SDCC happening just a little over a week prior to the strike beginning (July 25, 2023) they were hit hard with a way to provide the fans with what they are normally accustomed to.
Safe to say they did with they could but by bringing in the cast of Insomniac Games SPIDER-MAN 2 (which on a normal SDCC we would never see on HALL-H) but at the end the event overall didn't hit the mark they wanted to. No fault of the people of San Diego Comic-Con International.
With the strike affecting many con events one had to wonder what ReedPOP had planned during everything that had come before their big annual event. This was yet another obstacle that the company would have to overcome and the biggest one since the pandemic.
There is one thing that ReedPOP is known for is being resilient. This year was evident.
Once again ReedPOP managed to strategize a way to bring fans the same quality with minimal loss. They did so in a very clever way by acquiring the celebrities we want to see but with a catch.
The catch being that they were not allowed to speak about any current and future projects considering the SAG-AFTRA strike. The question remained; will fans be accepting of this, knowing everything that is going on with the actors involved? The answer was a resounding yes. Fans were not only accepting to the idea but also respectfully supporting them in solidarity as many shouted their support throughout the week of panel events.
This was important as we (fans) need to understand the gravity of this strike as the essence of not only affects this but all of us as well when it comes to corporations looking to try to deepen their pockets on hard working laborers' expense.
While I couldn't make all the panels (as it is impossible to do for anyone) the panels I was able to make did not disappoint.
As great as it was for us to see actors like Ewan McGregor, Chris Evans, and many of the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy (who could not be recognized for their part in the hit Marvel movie series as the result of the SAG-AFTRA strike) it was anime and video game panels that truly got to reap the rewards of NYCC.
Starting with the biggest panel to kick off NYCC was the Dragon Ball panel hosted by Monica Rial (Bulma) and Ian Sinclair (Whis) who presented Dragon Ball fans with news on upcoming games and more including a huge new update for Dragon Ball Xenoverse.
But the biggest surprise (unbeknownst even to the guest host) was the announcement of a brand-new Dragon Ball series known as Damai featuring a brand-new story not from the manga which has the Z Fighters take the form of kids in an all-new adventure.
Not too much was mentioned in terms of the full plot, one thing was for sure, the audience on the Empire Stage was excited and possibly overwhelmed by the news.
I was sitting while watching this admittingly trying to hold back a tear to be a part of this. Both Rial and Sinclair admitted they were trying to hold back tears as well.
Rial would then introduce the executive producer of the new series Akio Iyoku to briefly thanked fans for their excitement and support over the years but also to recite a letter from the legendary creator of the Dragon Ball series Akira Toriyama.
After that we got a bonus surprise from non-other than the voice of Japan's Goku legendary actor Masako Nozawa who sent a video message to all fans who attended the panel and said the following:
“Wasn’t the video for the new series “Dragon Ball DAIMA” amazing? Goku was so adorable and wonderful! I wonder about the conspiracy behind Goku’s new appearance. I'm very curious, but I'm told the details are still a secret! I’ll be waiting for the new anime along with all of you! I hope you look forward to it too!”
This was followed by her request that all attendees shout the famous battle cry of "KAMEHAMEHA!"
On top of all the great news coming from this panel, fans who attended got to grab some exclusive gifts courtesy of NYCC in the form of a commutative t-shirt, button, and playing cards of their new tabletop card battle game.
Much like the Super Mario Bros Movie panel last year this help kick off NYCC the right way with much more to come from this successful event.
The WALKING DEAD and INVINCIBLE PANEL celebrates 20 years.
One of the other wins for NYCC was the celebration panel of Robert Kirkman's Invincible and The Walking Dead which had a great surprise in store for fans.
Robert talked about the two series that exploded in popularity and what we can expect from them in the future including further details on the second season of Invincible.
If you ever attended a panel with Robert Kirkman then you know what to expect from him. He is both humble and highly entertaining to listen to. Like Kevin Smith when he does Q&A panels or stage shows.
He comes off as genuine and grateful for the opportunities he has achieved thus far in a way like he did feel he deserved to be where he is.
But the biggest surprise came when NetherRealm Studios founder and co-creator of Mortal Kombat Ed Boon made a surprise appearance to talk about how OMNI-MAN was chosen to be in MORTAL KOMBAT 1.
The two played off against each other very well and both seemed ecstatic about working together to bring one of the most ruthless "superheroes" to the world of Mortal Kombat.
This led to an exclusive first look at OMNI-MAN in Mortal Kombat and let me say they couldn't have found a better guest character then him as we saw him obliterate Fire God Liu Kang and others in the MK Universe. Also announced was that J.K. SIMMONS would be reprising the role of Omni-Man in the game.
Kirkman joked that Simmons spoke more lines for the game than he did in the first season of Invincible on Amazon video.
Funny story about this is that I originally wasn't planning to attend this panel as I was planning to go to the "Cast of Guardians" panel (although it was not titled that in the promos due to SAG-AFTRA stipulations) as well as the Chris Evans panel but could not because of registered attendees packed the EMPIRE STAGE and MAIN STAGE for those events.
But then, Ed Boon went on "X" to announce that something big related to Mortal Kombat was going to happen at Room 405. The fighting game fan in me did not want to miss this. Safe to say that I may have had the better hand here as this panel was much more newsworthy.
FINAL FANTASY REBIRTH CAST PANEL
Then it was the big one (okay, the other big one). The much-anticipated panel featuring the cast of one of the modern-day classic games of our time. FINAL FANTASY 7 REMAKE.
The game that when first announced at E3 in 2015 and brought tears to many fans around the world who have been begging for Square Enix to remake the legendary game.
See for yourself. This is just one of many, MANY reaction videos.
FF7 Remake was considered the savior of many gamers' mental health in 2020. In a year that brought the pandemic, police brutality against Black males and a lot of divide this game (along with the surprise release of Spider-Man Miles Morales) help bring joy to many who were battling depression as well as being quarantined due to Covid outbreak).
The game was met with overwhelming success as it was one of the two best games to come out without error (contrasting with the release of Cyberpunk 2077 and Marvel's Avengers which was met with disappointing results due to be the two games being rushed released and unfinished).
With the popularity of the first game fans are eagerly waiting for the follow up coming in early 2024.
ReedPOP produced the idea to have a panel starring the cast of the upcoming sequel known as REBIRTH and the entire main cast was their live to talk about their experience with the first game and what we can expect from the second.
One of the biggest surprise announcements came when actor and host moderator Matt Mercer revealed that he will be the new voice of Vincent Valantine (once voiced by Steve Blum).
Let me say that the audio in this video does not do it justice. The audio in the video here is filtered to not receive the incredibly loud ovation that was had when he revealed the news.
It was rock star level to say the least. The panel was phenomenally successful and very needed for this year's event. When I was planning to come to NYCC this year I was wondering how they were going to combat the SPIDER-MAN 2 panel. Getting the cast of FINAL FANTASY 7 REBIRTH is the only game that can rival SM2. My hat's off once again to ReedPOP for putting this together.
This was one of the best of the weekend that gave it all and more.
NARUTO PANEL with MAILE FLANAGAN
To end the weekend with a Rasengan level impact I attended the Naruto Panel to not only enjoy and celebrate one of my favorite anime series but to also see a friend (for the second time this year mind you).
Maile was invited to be a part of a grand celebration of the anime series that has brought so much joy to fans all over the world. I cannot tell you how long I have been waiting for ReedPOP to bring her on to talk about one of the greatest anime series of this generation. This was a great panel and Maile did her thang as always.
I will also give credit to Viz Media's trusted panel moderators as they always put on a good show for the fans.
It was an incredible turn out and Maile was more than humbled by the appearance.
Much love to her for shouting at me in front of that crowd as well. I am always grateful for her friendship. She is truly the Hokage both in the booth and in person. And she also has great taste in food. That I know personally.
She also granted me this picture taken by one of the Viz Media moderators from her phone along with the panoramic video they took of us with all the fans.
Viz Video also used it for that footage for their promo of her appearance at NYCC.
It was great to see her and her lovely and awesome wife/manager Lesa at the event. They are two of my favorite people and trust me when I tell you they both mean the world to me, and I will always cherish our friendship.
Thank you ReedPOP for making this happen (also for the opportunities they have afforded me over the years).
Once again, NYCC is without question the most successful newsworthy fandom event of 2023 thanks to great strategic planning during the SAG-AFTRA strike.
I've always admired them for their diligence and resiliency through some of society's most trying and troublesome times.
They continue to make all the right moves and I have nothing but respect for this company.
I've dealt with many companies before, but none has put together as them. While it may not have been what they were originally planning they damn sure made it a significant event to remember. Which makes me think of what they were planning had not been for the strike. If it were this great it would only have been more amazing if the strike hadn't happened. If you never attended NYCC and you are reading this, go out of your way to plan for next year. As a person who attended three years in a row, I can safely say you will not be disappointed.