AnimeJapan 2018 - Post-Show Field Report

AnimeJapan is an industry event open to the public held in Tokyo every March. 2018 was the event’s fifth year, and it’s already massive. It’s held at Tokyo Big Site, the venue famous for also hosting Comiket twice a year, so it has plenty of space to hold a lot of amazing stuff. All of the booth at AnimeJapan are official anime industry ones, alongside animation universities and other companies related to the industry. That means everything you see if official, and you can expect to see some really big names represented.

Cosplayers and superfans all converge on Tokyo Big Site to be the first to see news about new anime, check out prototypes for products, pick up exclusive goods, and attend events with their favourite anime creators and voice actors. AnimeJapan is a huge celebration of the anime industry in Japan and lets fans be right in the middle of everything new that is coming out. It builds a lot of hype right before the spring anime season starts and gets fans ready for the next year of anime.

So just what was there to see at AnimeJapan 2018? Read on to check out our field report from this year’s event!


Basic Info

When It Was Established 2013
Length of Event 4 days, held in March (2 business days, 2 public days)
Location Tokyo Big Site
East Exhibition Hall 1-8 [Main Area]
Conference Tower (1F)Reception Hall[Business Area]
3-10-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo, 135-0063, Japan

Cost ¥1800 advanced
¥2,200 at the door
Cosplay is an additional ¥1000
Advanced tickets can be purchased at convenience stores across Japan, along with other participating stores like Animate
Hotels Because Tokyo Big Sight hosts many large events throughout the year and is located close to Odaiba which is a popular vacation destination, there are a lot of nearby hotels. The closest ones to Design Festa are the Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington Hotel and the Hotel Sun Route Ariake, both of which are 3-star hotels, and the Oakwood Hotel and Apartment Ariake, which is a 4-star hotel. Staying anywhere close to Odaiba won’t be cheap, however, so if you are on a budget, stay elsewhere in Tokyo. Tokyo Big Site is very easily accessible on the JR Rinkai Line, and you can get there in less than 30 minutes from Shibuya and Shinjuku.

Company/Event Message for Fans/Attendees

"Here Is Everything about Anime"

Succeeding in this unchanging mission ever since the first event, we believe that now is the chance for us to take an even bigger step. This year, 2017, marks 100th anniversary of the birth of anime in Japan. This means that 2018 marks the 101st year, a brand new step for anime.

"Those who create anime"
"Those who spread it"
"Those who enjoy it"
And "Those who seek to create and spread it one day”

It is the connection of “everyone" who are involved in the world of anime that drives the 100th anniversary as well as the future to even greater lengths.

In order to reach out to our audiences with the power we are given from them, us creators will commit ourselves to more than ever before.

-AnimeJapan Organization (taken from the AnimeJapan official English website - https://www.anime-japan.jp/en/about/outline/)

What to Expect

AnimeJapan is swiftly becoming one of Japan’s biggest and well-known anime events. While many events are run by fans, for fans, AnimeJapan is all official. The booths and exhibitors are all companies directly involved in the anime industry and process in various ways. The guests are big names in anime as well. But rather than being an event limited only to business and press, it’s all open to the public! That means anime fans can have easy access to a lot of official news and goods, and even have a chance to see some of their favourite creators.

The biggest point behind AnimeJapan is getting people excited for the next year of anime. All of the major studios are pushing their newest works with posters, trailers, and even free stuff if you’re lucky. You will see some things for older and popular anime as well, especially when studios are celebrating their past works, too, but most of the focus is on new and upcoming anime. If you’re looking to just see anime you already know and love, AnimeJapan isn’t the best venue. But if you want to get ready for all new characters and stories, AnimeJapan can get you hyped!

As expected, AnimeJapan can get very crowded. Popular big name studio booths and events with famous names will always draw a lot of people, and some limited areas like the cosplay changing room are likely to have queues. It pays to be patient and give yourself an entire afternoon to enjoy the event so you don’t have to feel rushed if you need to queue for something. It’s also a great idea to get your ticket in advance from a store like Animate or a convenience store because you’ll have to queue to enter anyway. If you can skip the long queues to buy a ticket on the day as well, you’re already saving yourself a lot of time. Plus advanced tickets are a little bit cheaper!

AnimeJapan can be an overwhelming experience for the senses, to be prepared for a barrage of sound, music, people, and screens. Luckily, if you need to take a break, Tokyo Big Site has a few restaurants, convenience stores, and cafes you can access. AnimeJapan will let you leave and reenter with a hand stamp, so just don’t forget to get one if you decide to take a break! This year in the internal food court area, there was also a free phone charging station. It was a nice addition to keep fans with full batteries to take pictures and meet up with their friends - and of course, promote the event on social media!


What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event

*A camera

You can take pictures of almost everything you see at AnimeJapan! And you’re definitely going to want to. Some of the events on the main stages or smaller panels do not allow photography, but they will all be clearly marked as such if this is the case. Most other things, especially big displays for new anime or professional cosplayers working at the industry booths encourage photography. There were even a few photo ops places for you to pose and have your picture taken, such as sitting in Levi’s chair from Shingeki no Kyojin or holding props from Cardcaptor Sakura. Plus, there are so many amazing cosplayers around, and there’s no better way to show your support and appreciation for their work than to ask to take their photo. Just remember to always ask first when it’s other attendees you want to photograph!

*Money

AnimeJapan’s events (aside from cosplaying) are all included in the admission price. But you’re definitely going to want to bring some extra money along with you. A lot of the booths sell exclusive merchandise, some of which can only be purchased at AnimeJapan! You can find everything from tiny keychains to t-shirts, phone cases to wall scrolls, and much more. Everything is an average price for anime merchandise in Japan, too, so you won’t feel bad buying something from your favourite show.

There’s also a food court with plenty of delicious selections at slightly above average prices, and if you’re planning to stay all day you’ll definitely be taking advantage of that. Finally, cosplayers need to remember to bring ¥1000 extra to use the changing room and baggage storage!

What to Do While There/What is Available

There’s plenty to do at AnimeJapan to keep you busy all day. There are two massive halls in Tokyo Big Site that are packed with official industry booths, as well as four huge stages hosting special performances throughout the event. There is a large cosplay area, a food court, and even a place for kids to enjoy. But let’s back up and look at each of these things to do in a bit more detail.

First, let’s start with the official industry booths because they dominate AnimeJapan. All of the biggest names in anime set up huge displays for fans to come and check out. They feature a lot of different things to see depending on the company. Some have professional cosplayers or photo opportunities. Others have original artwork or sketches from old and new anime alike. And some even have figures or props like weapons and costumes that really bring the anime to life! The biggest names like Aniplex, Square Enix, Pony Canyon and more have displays big enough to walk through to showcase their anime both old and new. And you can take pictures of almost everything!

As can be expected, almost all the industry booths have a TV (or three) that is playing previews for upcoming anime and live action films. These are usually running on a loop of about ten or fifteen minutes, so it’s easy to watch all of them and then move onto the next booth. This is one of the best ways to get a first look at new anime and upcoming sequels. Along with huge posters and new merchandise announcements, this really helps fans get hyped for each studio’s upcoming projects. A few of the booths even have small stages where they host panels and performances throughout the day with voice actors, writers, and more that are free to attend! These are all in Japanese though as a necessary warning to non-Japanese speakers.

Throughout the entire event, AnimeJapan has four massive stages that host big events. These include some music performances, and mostly talks with big names from the anime industry. From hugely popular voice actors to famous writers, artists, and directors, it’s a chance for fans to see the people behind their favourite anime in person. These stages are very crowded and extremely popular parts of AnimeJapan though, so if you want to attend one of it’s best to queue up early. Some stages even require entry into a lottery or advanced registration, so decide early (before you even go) if you want to try to see one. Each day of AnimeJapan also features different things on these stages, so it’s best to plan what day you go based on what you want to see. Most of these events prohibit photography.

Like any anime event, AnimeJapan has a huge cosplay zone! There’s space to change and leave bags for cosplayers, and then a large area for them to take a lot of pictures. There are a lot of amazing cosplayers at AnimeJapan cosplaying from a wide variety of anime and games. Whether you’re a cosplayer yourself, a photographer, or just a fan who wants to see the talent these people have on display, be sure you don’t miss the cosplay area. More details about cosplay at AnimeJapan are in the Cosplay section of this article.

The cosplay area is in a separate hall from the main events, but it’s in the same area as something else very important - the food court! AnimeJapan has a big indoor space featuring several different foods and drinks trucks. It also has a lot of tables (standing only so don’t expect chairs here) to enjoy either the food you buy or a snack from home to recharge. In 2018, there were several different Japanese food trucks to choose from, as well as a famous bubble tea stand. Most excitingly though was the themed food area. Some of the biggest anime of the year like Osomatsu-san and FATE had dishes that were based on them available for around ¥1000 each (just under $10) - and they came with a collectible coaster, too! The queues for these foods was a bit longer but definitely worth it for fans of the anime.

Finally, AnimeJapan has a special section just made for kids! It has a lot of fun things for younger fans to enjoy with their parents, such as play areas and bouncy castles. It even has its own stage that has shows based on anime like Yokai Watch or Precure that are aimed at young anime fans. It’s a nice addition to both kids that like anime or parents that want to see the rest of the event but still want to give their child somewhere to unwind and have fun, too. As a note to older fans, you do need to have a kid to enter this area. We know it looks super fun but please save it for the families!


Cosplay

In the past five years of AnimeJapan, cosplay has become more and more popular. From just a small area the first year to the three massive spaces this time, it’s clear that cosplay is on the rise at the event. AnimeJapan has been catering more and more to cosplayers by creating more effective changing rooms, dedicating event space, and creating a good atmosphere for cosplayers to spend time together and take pictures. And it only seems to continue to get better every year!

Cosplaying is an additional cost of ¥1000 at AnimeJapan, but that fee gets you access to the changing area as well as baggage storage. The changing rooms are all inside and on clean concrete flooring and feel very private despite being in the middle of the bustling event. That being said, you are going to be in a big space changing with people of your own gender, but it feels separated from the general event populace at least! The men’s and women’s changing spaces are right next to one another as well, so you don’t have to go far to find a friend of the opposite gender once you’re both changed.

When you finish getting ready, simply stick the sticker saying that you paid the fee anywhere visible on your cosplay (even the back is okay so it’s not in your photos!), drop your bags off at the organised storage area, and you’re ready for play! At AnimeJapan 2018, the area appropriately named “Cosplayers’ World” consisted of a big indoor area that connected two outdoor spaces. One was the usual cosplay space at AnimeJapan, which is a small section of the parking lot. The other new outdoor area actually featured a background of Tokyo Bay and Haneda Airport, and was much bigger! Of course, it was crowded, but it made for a better backdrop for pictures and an additional space for people to use.

A simple but nice feature of Cosplayers’ World at AnimeJapan was a section inside that had backdrops with the AnimeJapan logo. Cosplayers queued up to take pictures in front of these official backgrounds to post on social media and show everyone where they were. It was a nice touch that cosplayers were happy to take advantage of and take some cool souvenir photos with to remember their time at AnimeJapan.

Cosplay isn’t limited to the cosplay area though! Cosplayers are free to walk around and enjoy the entire event of AnimeJapan. Photography isn’t prohibited in the rest of the event space, but stopping the flow of traffic and taking up a lot of space is discouraged. So for taking a lot of pictures, it’s best to use the cosplay zone. But don’t think you’re limited to only being in that area; be sure to enjoy the rest of the event, too.

Final Thoughts

AnimeJapan has grown so much as an event in the past five years, and all for the better. Its programming continues to increase, as well as space and time management of the staff and event itself. In fact, the final visitor count for AnimeJapan 2018 was 152,331 attendees! So it’s still popular and in Tokyo, which means it’s more crowded than an average event. But AnimeJapan saw a smooth schedule with enough space for people to breathe and enjoy themselves, and a chance to actually experience the programming they wanted to see.

For anime fans that want to be on the cusp of the industry, learning everything first and seeing all the newest trailers on the big screen, AnimeJapan is unmissable. To see both professional and amateur cosplayers bringing their best and having fun, AnimeJapan is a destination. And to be surrounded by otaku culture by attending the event that is becoming the heart of the industry itself, run by professionals for fans, well. You guessed it - you’ve got to check out AnimeJapan. We have high hopes that next year will bring an even bigger and better event than ever before!

Did you attend AnimeJapan this year or in the past? What did you think about it? Would you like to attend someday? Do you have any questions about the event? What would you like to see if you had the chance to go? Leave your comments below!

Jet Nebula

Writer

Author: Jet Nebula

Living the dream in Tokyo, where you can find me working at a theme café catered towards women. When I’m not writing for Honey’s, I’m working on original dystopian science fiction or blogging about Tokyo’s trendy coffee scene. I spend my free time in Harajuku and Shibuya wearing alternative Japanese street fashion. I love video games, J-rock, tattoos, and Star Wars.

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