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If you are a fan of Japan and all things about anime interests you, then this list is for you! Tokyo hosts many events related to the anime culture, making it the holy ground any anime fan from around the world would want to visit at least once.
Table of Contents
It's been years since the anime craze started. Hard-core fans of anime (called "otaku") are all over the world. But not known to many fans is the years it struggled to dig its foundation. Disney cartoons dominated the film market in 1917 when Japanese animated cartoons first came to picture. The drastic wreck brought by the Kanto earthquake a few years after further hampered its development. At the time of world war, heavy restrictions were held for films, but anime artists found a loophole. They created shows which were used to encourage morale propagandas among citizens. Soon after the war ceased, the rise of this industry was unstoppable.
※ Animation World Network, "A Capsule History of Anime"
International audiences began to enjoy anime through their local television channels. Now, as part of the advances made by the internet, it became openly accessible through entertainment websites and streaming platforms such as YouTube and Netflix. What makes anime inclusive is that it doesn't only hook young viewers but also adults. Its creative storylines characterized by unpredictability take viewers into a boundless world of anime characters and unforgettable experiences. Through time, creators expanded the genres from typical Japanese contents to include stories with a Western touch.
Fans are fascinated with characters from their favorite shows. Cosplay ("costume and play") became a thing then, allowing fans to transform into their dream-to-be-characters. Cosplay events are a captivating sight that features colorful costumes and accessories of participants in their fantastic looks. Due to immense popularity, it is now a form of business in Japan capitalizing on their vast talent in costume creation.
Another fruit of this trend is the production and selling of anime merchandise. Tokyo, in particular, is a haven for anime collectors as merchandise stores here are left and right. They offer anything anime-related from figures to plushies to accessories. Some well-known stores where fans flock to are Akiba Culture Zone, Cospatio, Gamers in Akihabara, and the famous Otome Road.
Manga, or the printed counterpart of anime, is a top collectible. These comic books use mostly black and white graphics to tell stories and are read from right to left, unlike the typical English-written books. Some animes are adaptations of famous mangas, and several mangas are produced as versions of top hit animes; thus, these two are often seen as inseparable, nonetheless individually fun.
Anime figurines are 2D or 3D standing model depictions of anime characters. Types of figures range from basic 2D acrylic figures, vinyl, or the hollow toy models, to intricately sculptured scale figures. These figurines are among the bestsellers for fans visiting these stores. Dakimakura or body pillows with anime characters printed on them are also a hit among fans. With more people becoming fond of them, some stores accept the customization for a specific print or design. Apart from these, various styles and colors of key chains, CDs, stationeries, accessories, clothing, and all kinds of souvenirs that would satisfy your anime obsession are here to find.
Comiket (abbreviation for "comic and market") is undoubtedly eminent if not the biggest event for anime-enthusiasts in Japan. It comes twice a year, during August and December, where long lines in the Tokyo Big Sight become insane. All sorts of cartoonists swamp the area to showcase their doujinshi (self-made magazines/comics), which is the event's highlight. Anime media companies won’t miss this opportunity either, so prepare to see their booths filled with anime-related products. Get your souvenir pictures taken too with cosplayers in their sophisticated costumes, which are available for purchase. Finally, the Comiket entrance fee used to be free, but for the first time this year, participants will need to pay ¥500 per day. This sudden change was implemented to avoid overcrowding and a more organized and safe event for the attendees.
For international fans that are practicing their fluency in the Japanese language, Animers is the event to attend. These are meetups held every other Friday in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, for otaku fans, both Japanese speaking and not. Feel free to converse with fellow anime fanatics and gain new friends. Although initially brought together by the love for anime, participants soon find themselves enjoying meaningful discussions and cultural exchange among other attendees.
World Cosplay Summit is an event in Nagoya that created an opportunity for friendship among cosplayers globally after the cosplay culture established worldwide following. First started in 2003, the event brings together representatives from more than 30 countries. Participants compete according to costume accuracy, quality, and stage behavior. This is deemed the largest cosplaying event in which not only competitors are dressed in fancy costumes but also the fans watching the ceremonies. Held annually from late July to early August, the eight-day summit offers viewers a spectacular show of the rich cosplay culture.
※ Japan National Tourism Organization, "World Cosplay Summit"
Pikachu, our well-loved character from the Pokemon series, floods the neighborhood of Yokohama with thousands of its kind yearly. The annual event enchanted the public eye like a movie promotion in 2014 until it turned into a yearly festival. Over the years, the number of giant dancing Pikachus have grown, setting the record at 2000. The parade was originally held during the hot summer days of August, yet just last year, organizers made a significant twist by holding the parade at night. After the main parade is several Pikachus' performance events at the Yokohama Art Museum, a fountain show in Yokohama Bay Bridge, dance at the Rinko Park, and the Eevee Rhythm March.
※ Inverse, "An army of Pikachu descends on Japan or the Pikachu Parade" ※ Pokemon, "Pikachu Outbreak 2019"
Gamers will be over the moon once they stumble upon the enormous Tokyo Game Show (TGS). Since 1996, it has been spoiling us with its plenty of serve of Japanese video games. Last year, 350 local and over 300 foreign companies participated in it, showing the draw both locally and from abroad. Visit the main exhibition area and get your firsthand experience of the latest games released by leading companies. Alongside video games, attendees of TGS await for Japan Game Awards. This ceremony celebrates the industry's fine talents for its contribution to Japan's gaming industry. Lastly, booths and stores selling game items are lined up, and several of them are only present in the Tokyo Game Show! For certified game-lovers, secure your tickets and get ready to marvel at one of the biggest video game collections ever!
※ Nikkei Business Publications, Inc., "Tokyo Game Show 2019 begins today! 655 companies and groups from 40 countries and regions participate!," p.1
The World's best known virtual singer Hatsune Miku, continues to hold expos around the world. She's one of the most successful produce of vocaloid (vocal and android), a Yamaha-developed voice synthesizer program. Her music has been loved since 2009 and now garnered millions of fans in North America and Europe. It might puzzle you how a 3D persona with a computer-generated voice could draw thousands of people together. Well, aside from the fantastic performance, the unique exhibitions and workshops at the concert entice the fans. Fans also revel in meeting fellow vocaloid supporters and in enjoying concert activities together. Other famous vocaloid singers to check out are Len Kagamine, Gumi, IA, and Luka Megurine.
※ Anime News Network, "Hatsune Miku Virtual Idol Performs 'Live' Before 25,000" ※ Miku Expo, "What is MIKU EXPO?"
Jamming to anime soundtracks is just inevitable while watching our favorite anime series. Fans' strong love for these songs brought to life "Anisama" or Animelo Summer Live, the biggest anime song festival in Japan. Packed at Saitama Super Arena, almost 80,000 fans watch a group of singers perform their most-cherished soundtracks. The stadium becomes a wild show heard with the deafening sound of fans and performers as they sing at the top of their lungs.
※Animelo Summer Live 2019, "Anisummer 2019 Comes to an end”
Japan's anime is irresistible; many people would agree. Successfully established its market, fans all over the world devotedly support anime-related activities; cosplay events, merchandise collection, festivities and concerts. Delve into the anime world and learn just another amazing aspect of Japan's incredible attributes.
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