Anime Expo Japan... Why?

by Christopher Macdonald, Oct 2nd 2002
Anime Expo Japan? A lot of North American fans are perplexed about why the SPJA is trying to hold an Anime Expo in Japan. Japan is after all the home of Anime and Manga and already has Anime and Manga conventions with attendance figures in the hundreds of thousands. True, North American conventions are slightly different from Japanese conventions, but there must be something more to it, some other explanation as to why an American Fan group would try to bring its convention to the home of Anime.

Well there is more to it than just that, it's called Worldcon.

The SPJA (Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation) is a California based non profit organization. The purpose of the SPJA is to promote and educate Americans about Anime and Manga and provide an event, Anime Expo (AX), to foster communication between professionals and fans.

The SPJA was founded in the early 1990's and AX was first held in 1992. Today, AX is the largest Anime convention in North America. The 11th AX in 2002 brought in roughly 15,000 fans. This year the SPJA ran not only Anime Expo in Long Beach California, but also Anime Expo New York (AXNY).

The purpose behind AXNY was to help promote Anime in the world's largest media market, New York City. AXNY, according to a post by Mike Tatsugawa(CEO of the SPJA), was also used as a training ground for staff for the first Anime Expo to take place in Tokyo in 2004, AXJapan.

Believe it or not, it was actually a Japanese group that approached the SPJA and not the other way around. In late 1999 or early 2000, a group of anime and science fiction fans in Japan approached the SPJA for assistance in hosting a World Con in Japan in 2007.

The World Science Fiction Convention, otherwise known as World Con, is the oldest continually running literary science fiction convention in the world. Its purpose is to promote science fiction writing and storytelling. It was founded in the early 1930's and has never been held in Asia. The 2002 convention (ConJosé) took place in San Jose California and attracted approximately 4000 or 5000 attendees.

The committee for the Nippon 2007 Worldcon Bid wants to obtain experience operating a North American fan run convention. In fact, in order to host a Worldcon, they would probably need that experience. To obtain this first hand experience in Japan, they have asked the assistance of the SPJA to host an Anime Expo in Tokyo. Members of the Japan WorldCon bid have done panels in the last three years at Anime Expo discussing science fiction in Japan, and their goal of having a WorldCon in their home country.

The SPJA and the committee for the Nippon 2007 Worldcon Bid have both registered their respective domains for Anime Expo Japan. The SPJA has registered axjapan.org, while the committee for the Nippon 2007 Worldcon Bid has registered axtokyo.org. Currently neither domain has a functional website, but both should have websites up and running in the near future.

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