Anime Expo: An Unconventional Convention

By Meyers, Laura | Art Business News, September 2001 | Go to article overview

Anime Expo: An Unconventional Convention


Meyers, Laura, Art Business News


LONG BEACH, Calif.--Not that fine art expositions and trade shows are normally staid affairs, but AX2001, the 10th-annual Anime Expo held in July, was definitely not a conventional convention.

Many of the 10,000-plus otoku (devotees of Japanese animation) in attendance dressed for the occasion with costumes depicting their favorite anime characters.

And, also in contrast to most art shows, parents brought their children--or, better stated, children brought their parents along to help celebrate "the hottest thing on the market right now," according to exhibitor Kenneth Wiatrick, marketing coordinator for ADV Films, the distributor of several popular anime series to network and cable TV channels.

Anime and manga--forms of "superflat" Pop art commonly used in Japanese animation and comics--are growing in popularity in the United States. The art works are rising in price now that mainstream networks like Fox Family Channel, Telemundo and the Cartoon Network air Japanese anime series. These days, there are fan conventions held throughout the country, from North Carolina and Texas to Michigan and New Hampshire--including conclaves in Atlanta and also Denver, Sept. 21 to 23; Arlington, Va., Oct. 12 to 14; New York City, Oct. 26 to 28; and Vancouver, B.C., Nov. 16 to 18.

But the largest U.S. fan and collector gathering is Southern California's annual July Anime Expo sponsored by the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA). This trade show, according to SPJA, seeks to create a forum where artists, industry professionals, collectors and fans from both sides of the Pacific can fete the genre.

Anime Expo included famous guest artists like Haruhiko Mikimoto, Kia Asamiya and Hisashi Abe. In addition, the event included an "Artist's Alley" exhibit of original production cels and editions created by well-known professional artists like Mikimoto, as well as hobbyists, an art auction and an exhibit hall where dealers sold anime and manga products ranging from toys, DVDs and videos to animation cels, fine art prints and posters. …

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