Anime-Mania at the Tokyo International Animation Fair

April 6, 2007 at 5:31 pm 1 comment

On March 22-25, the Tokyo International Animation Fair (TAF) was held for the sixth year in a row at the Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center in (you guessed it) Tokyo. The four-day event is not (only) for geeks – this is big business. Much like the San Diego Comic-Con in California, which has become the place to create buzz for mainstream and cult sci-fi projects as well as comics-related TV shows and films, TAF has clout, and serves as an excellent venue to exhibit new products and technologies in the world of animation.

It’s a world that’s expanding. According to The Japan Times, animation is considered by many to be Japan’s “key artistic export,” and during the past 10 years in particular, it has taken on new significance in the U.S.

Cult favorites like Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Vampire Hunter D have been popular on a smaller level for years, typically found on late night cable or at midnight screenings.

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More recently, films by writer/director Hayao Miyazaki, such as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, have earned critical, more mainstream acclaim (and in the case of Spirited Away, an Oscar). They also brought fresh American interest to Miyazaki’s 1989 film, Kiki’s Delivery Service. Even Speed Racer the Japanese cartoon from the 1960s, is making a comeback. A live-action American movie, starring Emile Hirsch, is currently in pre-production.

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With 260 exhibitors, including all of Japan’s major film and TV companies, and featuring comic books, video games, and merchandising tie-ins, TAF catered to businesses and fans, albeit on separate days. The first two days of the fair were strictly for trade distributors, buyers, and entertainment companies. The second two days were open to the public.

High on the list of must-sees were demonstrations of new technology such as the 3-D animation software from Di-O-Matic in Montreal. Japanese voice-over artists and actors performed live, singing from popular film soundtracks. Also on hand were screenings, sneak-peeks, robot animation, the Tokyo Anime Awards and, of course, lots of shopping.

Family members of all ages, not to mention people from all over Europe, Canada, the U.S., Korea and China were “drawn in” (sorry for the bad pun, I couldn’t resist). Total visitors exceeded 107,000. Wish I could have been there!

 

Sarah S.

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Entry filed under: Japanese Culture, Japanese Entertainment.

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