Wochi Kochi Editorial
1. Anime Expo
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2011, the Anime Expo in Los Angeles is the biggest anime convention in North America. Visitors come not only from the USA, but from all over the world, attracted by the cosplay events, concerts, and other shows taking place simultaneously at numerous venues day and night. Guests are invited from the Japanese and American anime industries each year to what is proving to be an extremely exciting summer anime festival. While taking an avant-garde look at the latest Japanese subcultures, such as maid cafés, Doujinshi self-published works, video games, and karaoke, it also offers a broad overview of Japanese culture from traditional dances to outdoor food stalls. One of the highlights of the 2011 expo was the vocaloid singer Hatsune Miku's concert "MIKUNOPOLIS!". Her first live performance overseas was so popular and the tickets sold out within a week. The Anime Expo is also known as "AX."
City: Los Angeles, USA
Dates: Four days at the beginning of July
No. of visitors: Approx. 125,000
Venue: Los Angeles Convention Center
Hosted by: Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA)
Characteristics: Largest manga anime expo in North America, with numerous anime related exhibits and many cosplayers. Visitors range widely in age, and the presence of family groups is noticeable. The event also presents a traditional side of Japanese culture.
Past guests: Actress Saki Aibu, pop idol group AKB48, and animation director Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East)
Guests in 2011: Manga artist Izumi Matsumoto (Kimagure Orange Road), game director Kenta Sugano (Record of Agarest War), and voice actress Miyuki Sawashiro (anime Durarara!!)
2. New York Comic Con, New York Anime Festival
The New York Comic Con (NYCC) marked its sixth anniversary in 2011. Originally a three-day event, it has since stretched to four days, and is becoming a prominent presence on the American pop culture scene with more than 700 exhibiting companies and 400 artists participating.
In 2010, the comic-oriented NYCC merged with the New York Anime Festival, which focuses more on anime and manga, to become a single comprehensive anime event and the largest anime manga festival on the East Coast.
City: New York, USA
Dates: Four days around October
No. of visitors: Approx. 105,000
Venue: Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
Hosted by: Reed Exhibitions
Characteristic: Distinguishes itself as a comprehensive event incorporating American comics and wide-ranging Japanese culture genres. Focuses not only on entertainment but features academic aspects as well.
Past guests: Rock band Boom Boom Satellites, voice actress Minori Chihara (anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), director (game designer) Hiroyuki Ito (Final Fantasy XII (FFXII)), CEO of Crypton Future Media (Hatsune Miku) Hiroyuki Ito, and chief editor of Weekly ASCII Toshihiro Fukuoka Guests in 2011: Voice actress Junko Takeuchi (anime NARUTO), manga artist Hiro Mashima (anime Fairy Tail), director Makoto Shinkai (anime film Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below), and screenwriter Dai Sato
The Otakon in Baltimore celebrated its 18th year in 2011. This growing convention has gone from 350 visitors when it began in 1994 to more than 30,000 in 2011. The Otakon covers the full spectrum of otaku subculture with many exhibits not only of anime, but American comics, figures, fantasy films, and other comics as well. This otaku festival also attracts people from the nearby cities of New York, Washington, and Philadelphia. In Baltimore, the Otakon is noted as a peaceful event since local crime rates go down during the festival period.
City: Baltimore, USA
Dates: Three days at the end of July
No. of visitors: Approx. 30,000
Venue: Baltimore Convention Center
Hosted by: Otakorp, Inc.
Characteristic: Boasts a high advanced cosplayer attendance, attracting anime fans from all over the East Coast. A multifaceted otaku subculture convention.
Past guests: Rap group HOME MADE Kazoku, animation director Masashi Ishihama (anime film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), and voice actress Kikuko Inoue (anime Captain Tsubasa)
Guests in 2011: Male singing duo CHEMISTRY, producer Atsuhiro Iwakami (anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica), and animation director Noboru Ishiguro (anime The Super Dimension Fortress Macross)
Official site: Otakon
4. Japan Expo
The Japan Expo in Paris celebrated its 12th anniversary in 2011. Although the latest manga, anime, and video games are the main attractions, the Japan Expo showcases Japanese culture as a whole, featuring pop culture such as manga cafes, visual rock concerts, Gothic Lolita fashion, Harajuku style, miscellaneous goods, and toys, along with the more traditional aspects of Japanese calligraphy, martial arts, shogi, or origami. It is also known for inviting many prominent guests such as pop idols Morning Musume and Puffy AmiYumi, and manga artist Tsukasa Hojo. In addition to the French, numerous visitors come from neighboring countries such as Italy, Germany, and Spain. The event attracted 3,200 visitors in its first year, but grew to more than 190,000 by 2011, making this one of the largest Japan festivals in the world.
In addition, a sister exhibition called Japan Expo Sud has been held in Marseille, France, at the beginning of March each year since 2009. http://japan-expo-sud.com
City: Paris, France
Dates: Four days at the beginning of July (July 5 to 8 in 2012)
No. of visitors: Approx. 192,000
Venue: Parc des Expositions de Paris-Nord Villepinte
Hosted by: SEFA EVENT
Characteristic: World's largest Japanese culture exhibition. While other festivals focus on anime and manga, the Expo also provides a cross section of Japanese culture including martial arts, Japanese cuisine, and tea ceremonies.
Past guests: Manga artist Tsukasa Hojo (Cat's Eye and City Hunter), pop idol group Morning Musume, female singing duo Puffy AmiYumi, and producer Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid game series)
Guests in 2011: Manga artist Yumiko Igarashi (Candy Candy), video game music composer Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill), and female singer SHANTI
(Related article: http://www.wochikochi.jp/english/topstory/2011/08/shanti.php)
Guests for 2012: Manga artist Naoki Urasawa (Monster)
5. Salon del Manga
Marking its 17th anniversary in 2011, the Salon del Manga in Barcelona originally focused on manga from around the world. Lately, however, like the Japan Expo in Paris, it has been eagerly introducing Japanese culture in general along with Japanese anime, manga, and video games. In Europe, the Salon del Manga is second in size only to the Japan Expo. The anime boom in Spain today has its roots in the animated programs aired on television in the 1970s such as Heidi, Girl of the Alps, 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, and Dog of Flanders.
The event's biggest highlight is the Spanish World Cosplay Summit (WCS), which decides the Spanish finalist for the WCS in Nagoya, generating a frenzy of excitement every year.
City: Barcelona, Spain
Dates: Three days at the end of October
No. of visitors: Approx. 70,000
Venue: La Farga
Hosted by: FICOMIC (Federation of Catalan publishers, booksellers, and distributors associations)
Characteristic: In addition to manga from around the world, introduces Japanese culture in general, including Japanese language, karaoke, cuisine, and traditional dance.
Past guests: Animation director Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East), manga artist Taiyo Matsumoto (Hana Otoko, Tekkon Kinkreet and Ping Pong), and Kawaii Ambassador of Harajuku fashion Yu Kimura
Guests in 2011: Animation director Keiichi Hara (Crayon Shin-chan films and Summer Days with Coo) and manga artist Kazue Kato (manga Robo to Usakichi and Blue Exorcist)
6. World Cosplay Summit Brazil--Etapa JBC Brasil
The World Cosplay Summit Brazil in Sao Paulo marked its 6th year in 2011. This competition determines the Brazilian finalist for the annual World Cosplay Summit (WCS) championship held in Nagoya, Japan. Cosplayers who have won regional rounds all over Brazil come to the event on the last day of the Japan Festival (Festival do Japao), which has been held for three days in July every year since 2010. Since Brazil has the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, more than 200,000 people come to the Japan Festival. In 2011, a booth called Akiba Space was set up in the festival venue to introduce Japanese pop culture. In the same year, JBC Publishing and the Japan Foundation, Sao Paulo hosted the "Tokyo Fashion Festa Sao Paulo" (a fashion show showcasing Gothic Lolita fashion, schoolgirl uniforms, Gyaru fashion, and casual kimonos from Japan) in between the cosplay events. http://fjsp.org.br/agenda/moda-de-toquio-em-sao-paulo/
City: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Dates: Last day of the Japan Festival (held for three days in July)
No. of visitors: Approx. 210,000 (for the Japan Festival in total)
Venue: Centro de Exposicoes Imigrantes
Hosted by: JBC Publishing Characteristic: Largest cosplay contest in Brazil, held on the last day of the Japan Festival (Festival do Japao).
Project affiliated with The Japan Foundation
Kawaii Ambassador in Brazil
As a part of missions to introduce Japanese culture, model Misako Aoki and content media producer Takamasa Sakurai visited cities around Brazil to talk about Japanese pop culture.
7. Anime Friends
The Anime Friends event in Sao Paulo celebrated its 9th anniversary in 2011, with stalls selling anime goods and comics, a karaoke competition, cosplay contest and other events. The main event is the live concert, "Super Friends Spirits", featuring artists singing theme songs for Japanese anime or action superhero television programs. Anime Friends invites many guests every year and the excitement continues well into the night.
City: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Dates: Three days in July
No. of visitors: Approx. 130,000
Venue: Mart Center
Hosted by: Yamato Corporation
Characteristic: A giant anime convention, especially known for concerts featuring Japanese anime songs and visual rock bands.
Past guests: Hironobu Kageyama (singer of the theme song of Dragon Ball Z), Masaaki Endoh, Masami Okui, and others.
Guests in 2011: Akira Kushida (singer of the theme song of Kinnikuman), visual rock singer Kaya, and top Japanese anime song rock band Psychic Lover
8. Japan Anime Festival
The Japan Anime Festival in Beijing and Shanghai started in 2011. The objective is to boost cultural relations between the two countries, with Japan Film Weeks organized to introduce Japanese films in Beijing and Shanghai, followed by an event in Japan in October showcasing Chinese films, television programs, and animation. The Voice Rainbow voice actor festival and Anison (anime song) concerts delighted crowds. Ten of the latest anime films were screened the first year: Welcome to the Space Show, Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, Gintama Shinyaku Benizakura-hen, Crayon Shin-chan: The Storm Called: Operation Golden Spy, Hutch the Honeybee, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, The Prince of Tennis: Eikoku-shiki Teikyu-jo Kessen!, Doraemon: Nobita and the New Steel Troops--Angel Wings, Naruto Shippuden: the Movie, HeartCatch PreCure! the Movie: Fashion Show in the Flower Capital... Really?! All of them were shown for the first time in China.
City: Beijing and Shanghai, China
Dates: Two weeks from the end of November in Beijing
One week from the end of November in Shanghai
Hosted by: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and others
Characteristic: First anime manga festival of this scale in China. Focused on anime film screenings, sales of goods, and presentation of anime songs. With very few cosplayers, the event is more like a film or music festival.
Guests in Beijing: Bless 4, Mayumi Gojo, Psychic Lover, Nozomu Sasaki, Isao Taira, Satoko Yamano, Toshihiko Seki (Mobile Suit Gundam SEED), Tetsuya Kakihara (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann), and Japan Audio Producers' Association director and 81 produce CEO Michiyoshi Minamisawa
Guests in Shanghai: May'n, Yui Makino, Tezuka Productions CEO Takayuki Matsutani, and Keiichi Hara (Crayon Shin-chan and Summer Days with Coo)
9. Anime Convention
The Anime Convention is the first large-scale anime convention in India, featuring a cosplay contest, screenings of popular anime works (including Chibi Maruko-chan, Galaxy Express 999, Mind Game, and Miyori no Mori), manga drawing classes, and presentations of video games and Japanese food.
City: New Delhi, India
Dates: Three days in mid-September
No. of visitors: Approx. 20,000
Venue: Marwah Studios of Noida Film City
Hosted by: The Japan Foundation
Guests: Animation scholar and critic Nobuaki Doi
The Animania festival in Sydney marked its 10th year in 2011, presenting a comprehensive look at Japanese culture from the latest anime and manga to cosplay contests, karaoke, dance, video game competitions, illustration contests, and origami workshops. Complete with Takoyaki and Yakisoba food stalls, the hosts succeed in creating the atmosphere of a Japanese Omatsuri (festival). The event is held in Sydney and Melbourne in March, and on a larger scale in Brisbane and Sydney in September.
City: Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, Australia
Dates: March and mid-September
Venue: Australian Technology Park
Hosted by: Aurora Entertainment Pty Ltd.
Characteristic: Held in cities around Australia, giving a comprehensive look at Japanese culture in an Omatsuri atmosphere.
The Romics event in Rome celebrated its 11th year in 2011. It is a festival that covers the full range of Japanese pop culture from comics to anime, films, video games, and doujinshi self-published works. Since it also includes the Italian World Cosplay Summit finals, most visitors are cosplayers. In Italy, Japanese anime is widely known thanks to Galaxy Express 999 and other anime programs that have been on television for many years.
City: Rome, Italy
Dates: Four days in early October
No. of visitors: Approx. 120,000
Venue: Nuova Fiera di Roma
Hosted by: I Castelli Animati
Characteristic: A convention on Japanese pop culture as well as anime and manga from all over the world.
12. J-FEST Festival of Contemporary Japanese Culture
The J-FEST festival of contemporary Japanese culture was held in Moscow in 2011 as a renewed version of the J-POP FEST festival of Japanese pop culture that had been held twice before. The J-FEST event was hosted by Japan in appreciation of Russia's huge support in the recovery efforts after the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011.
In addition to a photo exhibition illustrating the recovery in Tohoku, butoh performances, and visual art exhibitions, it also provided a diverse program introducing the contemporary subculture in Japan through a Harajuku and Lolita fashion show, anime film screenings, concerts by J-POP artists, a national cosplay championship, and lectures on contemporary Japanese culture.
City: Moscow, Russia
Dates: November 19 to 20, 2011
No. of visitors: Approx. 13,000
Venue: CDH (Central House of Artists)
Characteristic: A convention on Japanese pop culture, not focused on but including anime. Similar to anime events in Japan. Japanese schoolgirl uniforms and maid-cafes.
13. Japan: Kingdom of Characters Exhibition
The "Japan: Kingdom of Characters" exhibition was held in Budapest. Guided tours were given at various times during the event with the help of the Hungarian Anime Association, and young anime and manga fans flocked to the event. Particularly popular were anime character figures that are rarely seen here, a room filled with Hello Kitty goods, full-size figures of Evangelion and Gundam, and life-size panels of schoolgirls, while a display of manga and figures owned by the anime association also attracted a great deal of interest.
City: Budapest, Hungary
Dates: January 14 to February 14, 2011
No. of visitors: Approx. 4,800
Venue: Hungarian Museum of Trade and Tourism
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[World Cosplay Summit (WCS)]
The World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya celebrated its 9th anniversary in 2011. Starting in 2003, the event has featured international championships since 2005, where finalists from around the world test their mettle in performances on stage. The objective of the event is to provide an opportunity for Japanese and international cosplayers to meet, and to raise awareness of the popularity of Japanese manga overseas.
With the participation of 17 countries from around the world in 2011, the WCS has grown into an event that boasts hundreds of thousands of participants counting the preliminary rounds in each country.
City: Nagoya, Japan
Dates: First half of August
No. of visitors: Approx. 30,000
Venue: Oasis 21
Organized by: Aichi Television Broadcasting
Characteristic: World's largest cosplay event
Past guests: Manga artists Go Nagai (Devilman and Mazinger Z) and Monkey Punch (Lupin III)
Guests in 2011: Voice actor Toru Furutani (Mobile Suit Gundam and Saint Seiya) and anime song group JAM Project
Official site: World Cosplay Summit
[Comic Market (Comiket)]
The Comic Market (known as Comiket) held at Tokyo Big Sight opened for the 81st time in 2011. Hosted by the Comic Market Preparations Committee, it is the world's largest market for self-published works (Doujinshi). With each year the Comiket has grown larger and more widely known among the general public. In the summer of 2009, as many as 560,000 people visited in three days.
The Comiket is the world's largest market for self-published works and one of the largest indoor events (including exhibitions) not only in Japan but also the world. What puts the Comiket in a separate class from the many other self-published book markets is that it is a huge sales exhibition that attracts groups of all genres.
At the Comiket, fans of all descriptions exhibit and distribute their work, and interact with each other. Besides manga, anime, and games, people may also exhibit pop music or pop idol fanzines, Gothic Lolita and cosplay costumes, hand-made accessories, self-made hardware, dolls made by doll makers, and self-published works regarding the little-known daily lives of specialists (such as teachers, nurses, pilots, railway employees, and engineers), or works about pets, gardening, tea, and other hobbies. Comiket has become a meeting place for the various subcultures of contemporary Japan.
City: Tokyo, Japan
Dates: Mid-August and end of December
No. of visitors: Approx. 500,000
No. of exhibitors: Approx. 35,000 groups
Venue: Tokyo Big Sight
Hosted by: Comic Market Preparations Committee
Official site: Comic Market