For the past few years, the beginning of July has found me on a flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles to attend Anime Expo (AX), the largest annual North American convention devoted to Japanese popular culture, and its related industry-only event, Project Anime (PA). Both continue to break attendance records. This year, AX tallied 100,420 unique attendees, while PA brought together 102 international anime convention organizers with studio executives and their staff from Japan.
Aside from the personal encounters with the latest crop of cosplayers (anime and manga fans dressed in costume) and other fans, the events afford valuable opportunities to network with industry players and learn how the cultures and their media are changing.
Among first-time participants this year was Progressive Animation Works (P.A. Works), an anime studio unusually based in rural Nanto, Toyama Prefecture. The president and two employees were on hand to celebrate the company’s 15th anniversary, promote the July 4 Netflix worldwide debut of its first mecha series, “Kuromukuro” (Black Corpse), and see what anime’s future may look like outside of Japan.