Anime Expo 2008
Keynote Address: The Future of the SPJA

by Mikhail Koulikov,

As Anime Expo's opening ceremonies ran in the brand-new Nokia Theater, in the Los Angeles Convenion Center across the street, the first of AX 2008's many industry panels opened with a keynote address presented by Trulee Karahashi, the chief executive officer of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation. The SPJA is the organization that actually puts together the convention, but seventeen years into AX's run, it is looking to expand its scope and activities.

After last year's convention, which attracted over 44,000 attendees but was plagued with schedule delays and hours-long lines, the SPJA instituted a professional training program for the convention's managers and its own board of directors. The SPJA also promoted Anime Expo and anime in America in general with exhibits at Japan's Tokyo Game Show and Tokyo International Anime Festival (TAF). At TAF, the SPJA also hosted an industry symposium introducing members of the Japanese anime industry to some of the key issues facing the American anime industry. And as the 2008 AX opens, estimates are that at least 47,000 attendees will make their way to downtown Los Angeles for its four days.

Going forward, the SPJA is looking to expand its role as an intermediary between the anime industry both in Japan and the U.S. and American fans, helping both groups. It is looking to negotiate more directly with Japanese anime companies to continue bringing the latest series and movies to America and also, to expand cooperation with video-game companies as more and more games that are directly related to established anime titles are released in the U.S. Finally, the SPJA also hopes to expand connections with other anime organizations and fan groups around the U.S.

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