Anime Japan 2016

I was lucky enough to attend Anime Japan, a massive entertainment focused event in Odaiba, to check out some of the latest and upcoming Japanese animation!

An apology (or three)

Shortly after arriving and settling in Tokyo, I developed a pretty nasty flu – which I’m still not fully recovered from. It’s been a pain, and meant I’ve had to cut short some of my plans in order to rest earlier in the evenings. I have needed to wear a pretty cool mask, but the obvious downside is lacking the energy to write after arriving home each night.

I’m currently leaving Hiroshima for Osaka on the Shinkansen, and decided now is as good a time as any to write up my impressions of Anime Japan, which was held at Tokyo Big Sight last weekend.

EDIT: I started writing this with the best of intentions. I had hoped to get this online fairly immediately after the event, but between the flu and cramming my holiday with as many cool experiences as possible, I just haven’t had the time! I’ve been in my accommodation for the sole purpose of sleeping in the evenings, so haven’t had the available downtime to upload photos or write much.

As a result I’m now en route to Hakone (near Mt. Fuji), having stayed in Osaka, Nara and Kyoto. Good grief, it’s been almost 3 weeks since the event! But as the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun.

EDIT 2: Dammit, I did it again! I’m finally back home and almost over my jet-lag.

What is Anime Japan?

As well as an entertainment focused event, Anime Japan creates opportunities for attendees to connect and engage with what’s happening right now in the world of anime.

The event is supported by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, The Association of Japanese Animators and The Association of MANGA Publishers.

Having run for the first time in 2014, it is a relatively new event. Despite this, it had a massive number of attendees, with a total of 135,323 over the course of the weekend (which is comparable to MCM Comic Con, in London 2015[1]MCM Comic Con: Media Pack 2016).

I headed to Odaiba on Friday, figuring I would also try to cover the business day, which wasn’t open to the public. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but thought at the very least, it would be a less overwhelming means by which to assess the venue and exhibitors. Which would have been easier if I’d requested a Friday pass during my application. The press team were really accommodating however, and quickly arranged access despite my oversight.

In the smaller business hall, I saw the familiar faces of Andrew Partridge and Jerome Mazandarani, representing the UK industry. Both no doubt on the hunt to secure new licenses for their respective audiences.

Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
I probably shouldn’t be here!

The Friday though, was really only useful for business related matters. As it was, I felt like I was merely cluttering the event space unnecessarily.

So I decided to make the most of my time in Odaiba instead!

Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
I rode a giant ferris wheel – you can actually see Tokyo Big Sight in the distance.
Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
And popped by to visit an old friend (most of my friends are giant robots).

I woke up early on Saturday

…and made it back to the venue for a 9.30am start.

Leaving the train, there was a steady trickle of people heading from various stations towards the convention centre. It didn’t look too busy outside, but below the surface it was already incredibly busy.

Walking towards the Press desk, one clerk whispered to the other and they nodded. “It’s this guy(jin) again.”, I could almost imagine them saying. They greeted me with a smile, politely accepted my business card; mentioning that they remembered me from yesterday (I knew it!). They pointed me towards the direction of the event, and bowing as I left, headed towards the crowded show floor.

It was 10AM – only 30 minutes after opening, and the conference centre was already starting to get busy.

Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
A selection of artwork from the Kizumonogatari movies.
Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
Goblins from Hai to Gensou no Grimgar! One of them looks familiar…
Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
Good Smile Company had a pyramid of Nendoroid figures! As well as a complete set in their cabinets.
Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
The team make their return in Digimon Adventure Tri, celebrating 15 years of the franchise.
Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
Toonz software, used to animate the popular Studio Ghibli and Futurama.

Toonz recently went Open Source[2]WIRED: Toonz software used by Studio Ghibli is now free and open source, meaning any aspiring animators can now use production level software, completely free!

Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
The promotional graphics were beautifully illustrated.
Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
No wonder they look displeased, whoever is inside there must be melting!
Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
Saber and Rin modelling some custom decals.
Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
Makoto Shinkai’s latest film, 君の名は。 (Your name.).

If the quality of the teaser video, and Shinkai’s previous work is anything to go by, Your name should be worth looking forward to.

Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
Galko-chan! Everybody’s favourite gyaru.
Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
There were a few balloon sculptures. Balloon-Shinobu was entirely adorable.
Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
The promotional areas were all fairly unique. These lanterns were gorgeous.
Anime Japan 2016 by Bryan McDowall on 500px.com
One Piece is always relevant to my interests. This is advertising the new movie.

The new One Piece film looks pretty great too!

One Piece is pretty simple to follow, being a Shonen (boys) manga/anime full of action and adventure. It does have an incredibly well written story though, which makes it worth sticking through the 824+ chapters which are available at the time of writing this.

It’s definitely my favourite manga.

I met a friend from the UK a little later in the morning, who moved to Japan as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher), and now studies there. Having been to a few different events, he assured me that the volume of attendees was nothing compared to the scale of Comiket.

There’s really a lot to take in at the event. The above photos were mostly taken in my first 30 minutes in the Big Sight, after which it was extremely busy – and difficult to snap a few pics without causing an obstruction.

Is this event for you?

After reading all of this, and you’re considering whether you should attend, I think it’s worth asking these questions first:

How much of the event will I understand?

Whilst the event staff and promoters will always do their best to accommodate English speakers, the weekend is predominantly for Japanese attendees and it’s quite different from UK events!

Language aside, one example is time locked merchandise releases. This is a fairly typical way of dealing with high demand items at the event, though it might be less of an issue if you’re not there to shop.

Speaking of which…

What do I hope to do at the event?

Are you going to socialise? To shop? To write about it in your blog? Either way, it’s worth planning a little in advance.

The event website is very useful in listing promoters and dealers who will be on-site during the course of the weekend.

Could I be enjoying something else instead?

Tokyo is a big place – with lots of events! It’s worth considering how much time you’re spending there, and if attending this event conflicts with anything else you’d rather do there. Yes, it’s an anime event, but you might find something else more specific to your particular interests.

Personally, I found Anime Japan to be an interesting experience. I’m a little out of the loop with new series, but there were one or two I recognised, and it was pretty cool to see what my favourite studios are working on.

I think more than anything, it was just really cool to experience such a huge Japanese event of this nature.

You can find out more about the event on the Anime Japan English homepage.

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