Anime Expo, abbreviated AX, is an anime convention that usually takes place on the July 4 weekend for four days each year in Southern California. The convention tries to include July 4 in its dates, except on the years when July 4 falls on a Wednesday. Anime Expo is hosted by the non-profit Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA). SPJA has also held Anime Expo conventions in New York and Tokyo, which took place in 2002 and 2004 respectively. Anime Expo has frequently collaborated with the anime industry, and as the convention has grown, so has the visibility of Anime Expo's industry sponsors as evidenced by their towering presence throughout the convention site.
Many of the attendees cosplay
while attending the convention, and popular events (in addition to guest and industry panels) include the masquerade, karaoke
contest, anime music video
contest, and "AX Idol" contest. Anime Expo is a 24-hour convention, offering late-night dances, all night video and gaming rooms, and open-mic Karaoke in the nighttime hours.
Anime Expo began as an anime and manga convention in Northern California. Many of its original staff came from Anime Con
, an anime convention held in San Jose, California
in 1991, and later absorbed by the SPJA in 1992. In 1994, Anime Expo made a strategic relocation to Southern California and has resided there since.
The convention continues to thrive because of the increase of productivity and popularity in the anime industry and maintains a strong draw due to the many notable Japanese guests it has been known for. It currently holds the title of America's largest anime convention, a title which it has consistently held every year except 2003 in which its attendance was slightly edged out by its rival east coast convention Otakon. From 1,750 attendees in 1992, Anime Expo's size has increased to over 43,000 in 2008, which makes Anime Expo the largest anime and manga convention in the North America and one of the largest in the world.
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The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), the parent organization which produces Anime Expo, is a federal and California state registered 501(c)(6) non-profit corporation. The staff of Anime Expo is broken up by division, and each division is composed of a number of departments. The Divisions are: Membership Services, Operations, Programming, Audio Visual Services, Exhibits, Interactive Events, and Guest Relations. Additionally, the SPJA arm has several departments that also service Anime Expo, these include Marketing, Staff Resources and Finance. There were over 500 staffers and volunteers at Anime Expo 2006.
Over the years, the organization has experimented with monetary compensation to key staff (including the Chairperson and Division Heads). In 2006, Division Heads and their assistants were compensated. The Anime Expo Chairperson position was a compensated position in 2005 and 2006. The compensation paid to these individuals do not constitute a full-time salary (i.e. below minimum wage calculated on an hourly basis). Instead, the compensation represents a means of compensating key staffers who have nearly full-time responsibilities in managing a convention of this size and scope
The SPJA, which is the parent organization of Anime Expo, has one full-time office manager. SPJA's CEO and CFO are also paid, as well as the consultants for outsourced functions such as public relations and legal representation/consultation.
Other Anime Expos
The SPJA has twice run conventions outside of California: Anime Expo New York
in 2002, and Anime Expo Tokyo
Anime Expo New York
Anime Expo New York
(AXNY) was held in 2002 in the Times Square
district of New York City
. The event was originally a joint effort with Central Park Media
and its industry event, Big Apple Anime Fest
(BAAF). Due to differences, the event ran as separate entities within the same time frame and venues, with BAAF hosting the theatrical film screenings, and Anime Expo New York hosting the convention. The events shared some resources, with notable guests listed in the program guides of both events.
The SPJA ran the event in order to demonstrate that they could run events outside of their home state of California. The event was a precursor to Anime Expo Tokyo which ran in Tokyo
The SPJA has not run any events outside of California since 2004.
Anime Expo Tokyo
Anime Expo Tokyo
(AX Tokyo) was held in 2004 at the Sunshine City Convention Center
. It is important to note that this event was not technically put on by the SPJA, but rather was put on by the Japanese Association for Science Fiction
with assistance from the SPJA. In hosting Anime Expo Tokyo, JASFIC intended to accomplish two objectives. First, they wanted to establish in Japan a non-corporate sponsored convention dedicated to Anime, which in contrast to its manga counterpart was a rarity in Japan. Second, they wanted to prove to the coordinators of WorldCon that Japan could serve as a suitable venue for conventions that attract foreigners. They were ultimately successful and were named as the host for WorldCon 2007
Anime Expo Tokyo had a staggering list of over 40 guests such as Ken Akamatsu, MiQ, Under17, Hiroshi Aro, and many others, although a small handful had to make last minute cancellations. Anime Expo Tokyo was also the very first Anime Expo that officially hosted guests from the US Anime industry such as Fred Gallagher and Crispin Freeman.
Of Anime Expo Tokyo's 4249 attendees, approximately 300 of that number were estimated to have traveled from abroad. In addition to the attendance numbers were 240 members of the press, 40 of which were from overseas. An additional 430 people were composed of dealers, guests, or staff.
No official plans to host another Anime Expo outside of California are currently planned.