Japan’s comic fans will get a taste of what it is like to return to normal as the Anime Japan 2021 expo will be held in person for four days (March 27-30), starting Saturday at Tokyo Big Sight center.
But the show may be a static, booth-bound affair as there will be no physical, in-person events. Instead, everything from stage shows for fans to business seminars and meetings for industry professionals, will be online.
An annual event that usually draws throngs of fans to the venue, Anime Japan was canceled last year, as a state of emergency was declared on April 7 in Tokyo and six prefectures.
This year, the showcase starts shortly after the lifting of another state of emergency in Tokyo last Sunday. But cases in the nation’s capital have since experienced an upswing, hitting 394 on Thursday.
Big name Japanese animation houses will be present, including Ufotable, the maker of the mega-hit “Demon Slayer” TV series and film. Its “Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train” set an all-time record at the Japanese box office last year.
Major media companies such as TV Tokyo, Yomiuri Telecasting and Pony Canyon will also be present, as will Anime Festival Asia, which promotes anime events across Southeast Asia and U.S. streamer and distributor Funimation. The Sony-owned company is in the process of acquiring Crunchyroll, but U.S. regulators may be holding up that deal.
In addition to virtual business meetings, there will online seminars with industry leaders on March 29 and 30 with English subtitles, with no prior registration required.
For fans there will also be a long list of stage events that can be accessed online, including one featuring musician and voice actor Takanori Nishikawa, AnimeJapan 2021’s official ambassador. Five of the 51 stage events, including one devoted to “Demon Slayer,” will viewable by foreign fans in the U.S., Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.