To many people, anime is a foreign concept, and to its fans, it’s a foreign concept they enjoy.
On the eve of the first “QC Anime-zing” convention in Bettendorf, we asked Ryan Kopf, a 21-year-old Muscatine, Iowa, native and University of Iowa student who is serving as senior organizer of the convention, to talk about the growth of the art form and its accompanying conventions.
WHAT IS ANIME?
“Anime is, broadly, just Japanese animation, any sort of animation in that Japanese style. But people know it more from the examples of ‘DragonBall Z,’ ‘Narato,’ ‘Sailor Moon,’ ‘Pokemon,’ ‘Digimon,’ those sorts of shows.” The Yu-Gi-Oh cards are also an example, Kopf said.
“Most anime conventions have the same basic structure, a masquerade on Saturday where people show up in costume and try to win prizes, and that’s one of the biggest events. We have, different from most anime conventions, a concert where one of our voice actors (Johnny Yong Bosch) is the lead singer of the headline band (Eyeshine). We have a dance Friday night and Saturday night.
“A lot of the program is panel discussions of a certain show, where fans of a show will watch clips of a show and talk about them. One of the panels is ‘Lupin the 3rd’ and Why You Should Love It,’ and one of our guests is showing clips and telling why they love the show.”
GAMES AND VIDEOS
About 50 different anime DVDs will be shown on projection screens, and a variety of video games will be available to view and play.
Among the interactive games is Death Note Mafia, a card game similar to the board game Clue, Kopf said.
AnimeIowa, which Kopf has worked with in Iowa City for the past several years, has drawn as many as 3,000 fans. A recent Chicago convention attracted 20,000 fans.
“The appeal is meeting other people who like anime, dressing up in costumes and acting a little silly and having fun. That’s what a lot of people go for. You meet people who like the same TV shows and have the same interest and think that dressing up like a character is fun.”
“There’s more anime conventions now than there ever have been. Ten years ago, there were maybe five to 10 good, strong anime conventions, but anime keeps getting more and more popular because of all these conventions. ... People get further and further into it. There are at least three anime conventions in St. Louis. It goes along with the comic book conventions that continue to grow.”
* Johnny Yong Bosch, the black “Mighty Morphin Power Ranger” from the TV series and the leader of the band Eyeshine
* Robert Axelrod, an actor and voiceover artist
* Spike Spencer, a voice actor who has appeared in hundreds of anime episodes
* The Man Power, a punk band that’s a favorite at anime conventions
THE NEXT BIG THING
“There’s a whole bunch of new shows coming out. It’s really hard to predict what’s going to be popular, but shows like ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’ really stand the test of time. It evolved through the seasons, and people keep liking it.”
“We’re measuring (our success) by whether we’ll be able to pay for everything. Our budget is in the black right now, which is awesome before the event. From what people tell me in the convention business is to expect 20 to 25 percent of your attendees to pre-register. We have 150 to 200 people pre-registered. We’re planning on 500 to 1,000, exactly like I’ve been predicting. ... Next year it’s going to be huge going from what we have this year.”