Anime industry reunified at expo, satellite events
BY ROLAND KELTS
AnimeJapan 2014, the rebranded and reunified annual industry trade show, exceeded organizers’ expectations last month, hosting 110,000 producers, publishers, journalists, cosplayers and public visitors. What a relief.
Since 2010, the anime industry’s political divisions meant two separate shows: one in Chiba called the Anime Contents Expo (ACE), the other in Odaiba, the original Tokyo International Anime Fair (TAF). Dashing between the two had become an annual headache. AnimeJapan brought domestic and overseas players together again under one cavernous roof at Tokyo Big Sight on March 22 and 23.
It wasn’t perfect. “AnimeJapan was a huge success as a B2C (business to consumer) event,” says Yuji Nunokawa, chairman of the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA). “From B2B (business to business) aspects, however, there were some unsatisfactory elements, such as meeting-space shortage and lack of preparation.”
The so-called business days of industry-only meetings that precede the show’s public opening were dropped this year to save money, leaving producers, distributors and journalists to fend for themselves, ducking into small rooms above the show’s main halls or arranging for separate meetings in downtown Tokyo. The official tally of visitors from abroad was 546, a figure Nunokawa calls “an unprecedented success. It is AJA’s hope to promote anime’s presence to the world and make AnimeJapan the world’s best anime event.”
The rift within the industry prompting the creation of two separate shows four years ago was caused by then Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s legal interference. His passage of the vaguely worded Bill 156, otherwise known as version 2 of the “nonexistent youth bill,” restricting the sale of particular manga, anime and video games deemed “harmful” to youths and society at large was met by fierce opposition from artists and major producers, publishers and organizations, including the AJA.
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