Anime Pop Culture Permeates Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada - It's contagious! Infestation of a Japanese subculture is beginning to spread across all international borders, finding acceptance among our American youth. Otaku, a derogatory Japanese term, culture is a sect of society that obsessively indulge in varying aspects of Japanese pop culture and lifestyle. And it's rapidly dispersing throughout the population in, one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, Las Vegas.

With the influx of families relocating to Las Vegas from across the country, the community is being pipelined with a wide age range of anime fans. These fans have a desire to build fellowship with others that share a healthy appetite for Japanese manga, animation, computer games, music and apparel.

With the exception of a few small anime fan groups and individuals in Las Vegas, there are six main anime clubs in the city. These clubs actively organize outdoor picnics, bowling parties and various group activities several times a month. Many participants converge with other anime clubs for the sake of moral support and experiencing the Otaku lifestyle. The appeal of the cultural trend attracts new fans of anime to join these clubs and activities.

Anime Vegas, a non-profit organization, was established three years ago by a group of anime enthusiasts meeting in an auditorium at the West Charleston Library. Every month the group screens Japanese anime films, sharing a common interest in anime-related knowledge and merchandise. The club's small membership has grown to a loyal following of 100-160 attendees on a regular basis.

Richard Stott, Founder of Anime Vegas, followed through with the wishes of its members to work on a plan to launch an anime convention of its own. “...the first ever Anime Vegas Convention on Labor Day Weekend 2004! By now the loyal fans of anime banded together, creating a network here in Las Vegas. Led by Anime Vegas and Meijin Kenryoku, Las Vegas Otaku, OtakUNLV, Chibi Club, J-Team and high school clubs as well as local cosplay talent, got word out to the masses. By just the shear power of the grassroots of Las Vegas and the internet, the first convention got a total of 1,019 people to attend. Though it was very small, it left an impact across the country. Larger conventions had expressed interest in seeing how we had done it,” says Stott.

“Las Vegas Anime Fandom is in a class of its own,” states independent animation curator Johnie Tidwell of . “There is such an enthusiasm and celebration of this art form and culture among its fan base in Las Vegas, the energy is literally palpable. I can foresee Anime Vegas Convention becoming an important international destination for anime fans and marketplace in the very near future.”

In 2004, anime sales were estimated to reach a record 80 billion in global sales of Japanese animation and merchandise. The growing Otaku subculture in LasVegas will more then likely cultivate a demand and increase local sales for anime-related products. Anime Vegas will be holding its 2nd annual convention to celebrate Otaku culture on October 28-30 at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas, which is open to the public.

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