Anime Expo 2012
The Future of Anime Expo panel

by Justin Sevakis,

The Future of Anime Expo was presented by the Research and Development committee of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, and was hosted by Kris Zoleta, committee chair amd SPJA treasurer, and Paul Wilson of the SPJA board of directors. SPJA Chairman of the Board Takayuki Karahashi joined the panel later. The panel began with introductions, and an explanation of the committee, and its goal of coming up with new ideas and bringing up new projects. "This is an ideas panel," Zoleta said.

The first project discussed was Battle Bots, which is planned for next year's AX. Battle Bots are fighting robots that are remote-controlled and piloted through a camera in the robot's cockpit. Unfortunately, the person in charge of the project could not attend the panel.

Secondly, guests of honor were discussed. Wilson stated that the SPJA was considering inviting a few "wild card" guests of honor, who would be non-Japanese guests that are not involved with anime, but were otherwise influential in the larger entertainment world. Wilson emphasized that they did not wish to be like San Diego Comic Con, and to wished to keep emphasis on anime and manga, but considered that anime was, in turn, influenced by some Western artists.

Lastly, the SPJA is also considering working with local art and design colleges to bring larger workshops to Anime Expo.

Zoleta briefly discussed Anime Conji, a San Diego anime convention in March that is bring brought under SPJA management. "This isn't a takeover," Wilson said. "We want to help them be what they want to be." Also, a traveling manga library was mentioned.

With that, the floor was opened to the audience for their questions and suggestions for future events. One fan asked for more film premieres (which led the panelists to ask what he thought of a film festival for anime). Next was someone from Anime Conji in San Diego, who asked what to expect from the new management, to which Wilson insisted that the SPJA had no desire to change the event, and that the smaller con would still remain what it was. When another fan asked how far the SPJA planned on going with assisting other conventions, the panel responded that nothing had been decided, and while assisting other cons is something the SPJA wants to do, such opportunities are discussed on a case-by-case basis.

One fan requested a more official announcement schedule for cosplay gatherings, to which the staff responded that it would be difficult to do so logistically. Other topics brought up included suggested guests of honor, next year's venue, late-night horror anime screening blocks, use of technology at the event, and the addition of ramen to the available food vendors.

This report has been verified by the panelists.

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