Anime Expo 2007
Keynote: Anime in the US

by Zac Bertschy,

A new addition to Anime Expo's slate of programming this year is a mini-conference on the business of Japanese popular culture. Each day, a well-known industry figure shares his or her views on such diverse topics as the future of anime in the United States, the continuing growth and development of the English-language market for manga, the emergence of new delivery methods for Japanese animation, and the ways Japanese and American companies can tap into new sources of revenue via licensing and co-production. Each keynote address is followed by a round-table discussion on these topics.

The theme of the first day of the conference is "Anime in the US." The keynote speaker on this topic is Mr. Keizo Tsuchiya, the chief executive officer of the Los Angeles office of JETRO, the Japanese government's agency for promoting trade, investment, and technology exchange between Japan and other countries. Mr. Tsuchiya begins his speech by showing a short English-dubbed documentary that highlights some of the most popular recent anime and manga titles, such as Blood+, Code Geass and Nodame Cantabile. The film mentions that at that this point, some 70% of all books sold in Japan are manga.

In the speech, Tsuchiya emphasizes the ways that the anime business has expanded to include toys, live-action films, and music. He then argues that collaboration and co-production efforts that draw on the skill of Japanese creators and the business expertise of American investors will be crucial to the "next step" in the evolution of Japanese animation.

According to JETRO figures, In 2006, the US market for anime is $4.35 billion; the market for manga another US$200 million. However, anime remains a major target for piracy, and in fact, Tsuchiya states that one of the reasons Japanese animation has been so successful worldwide is that pirates bore much of the cost of experimentation and promotion. At the same time, anime piracy continues to cut down on the possible profits companies in Japan and in the US can make. He asks all of the attendees of the panel to continue to work in educating consumers so that the anime industry itself can expand and thrive.

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