During my spring vacation in Tokyo with my family I went to Anime Japan. Anime Japan is an anime consumer show that has been held at Tokyo Big Sight in March of each year since 2014. I went for the first time in 2015, and since I wasn’t able to go last year I was excited to see how it had changed over the past two years.
My friend, my cousin visiting from the USA, and I arrived around 11:30. We weren’t really sure how to get tickets to the event, but imagined they were being sold inside Big Sight, as they had been in 2015. The weather was bitterly cold, and it was raining that day. So, you can imagine our slight displeasure when we found out we had to walk back outside, and halfway around the massive building, where we were greeted by the line of waiting soon-to-be Anime Japan attendees.
After making our way through the actually-not-so-bad line we were at last returned to the warmth of the convention center. Our time waiting in the cold rain was well worth it when we were greeted with the sight of anime related booths, banners, and people in cosplay everywhere we looked. Filled with enthusiasm, and me being armed with my first ever ita bag, my companions and I sallied forth into the sea of fellow fans.
Going to an anime event in Japan is a completely different beast than going to one in other countries. They’re not “conventions” as we anime and comics fans know them in most other places. At least in America, especially at ones of the smaller to mid-sized variety, conventions tend to be a bit more personal, and more fan focused. Conventions in Japan are less so. Anime Japan is run in part by several large companies that work within the anime industry, and feels more like a trade show.
The floor of Anime Japan is taken up largely by exhibition space. Several hundred anime industry related companies attend every year, along with several software, game, and toy companies. All of these companies are represented by their own booths. Several of the larger booths featured special displays, such as costume displays, props, items, or “sets” of different shows. Some featured stages for special speaking events with manga and anime industry professionals, or with voice actors.
Most of the smaller booths focused on selling merchandise. I wasn’t sure if we were allowed to photograph these booths’ wares, but because many of them were made exclusively for sale at Anime Japan, or were special collectables, some of the items were shockingly expensive! None of the merchandise was calling out to me, so I opted not to purchase any goods.
We spent the afternoon casually pursuing the booths, and as my friend said, “shopping for our next fandom”, as several of the booths were advertising for upcoming shows (I have high hopes for Kabukibu, which will premier later this month). A number of booths and larger exhibits present seemed to be meant to increase the hype for upcoming second/third/whatever seasons, or for revivals, such as the Shingeki no Kyojin and Cardcaptor Sakura displays.
For almost five hours we existed in a state of otaku bliss. We took a ton of photographs with large-scale images, cosplayers working at different booths, and with cardboard cutouts of characters from our favorite series. It was a crowded event, with 145,453 guests in attendance throughout the entire weekend according to Anime Japan’s website. But, even the at times claustrophobic swarms of fellow attendees wasn’t enough to dampen our spirits.
I wish I had known I would create this blog before attending Anime Japan, because if I had I would have taken more photographs, rather than having most of mine be of me posing in front of sports anime posters.
While I was enjoying the moment there was an underlying bittersweet feeling that came with it, knowing that my home convention, Anime Boston, would be taking place the next weekend. Being at Anime Japan gave me a similar happy feeling to the one I always used to have going to AB every year. There are a lot of things in life that make me feel happy, and events like this are just one of them, but there is a specific kind of happiness that comes with going to a convention in the USA that I miss feeling. I miss going to them as I knew them pre-Japan. I could wax poetic about this topic for a while, but perhaps I’ll make another blog post about it instead.
Overall I had a pretty fabulous time at Anime Japan, enjoying the vibe and fully unleashing my normally dormant otaku tendencies for a few hours. I’m not sure if it’s possible, since next year I would like to travel more during my spring vacation, but I sincerely hope I’m able to attend again next year. Maybe I’ll even cosplay!
Thanks for reading!