On Jan. 7, 2013, American anime convention news site AnimeCons.com released a breakdown of attendance numbers at anime conventions held in North America in 2012.
One topic of note was the disappearance from the list of the New York Anime Festival--a previous top 5 contender for attendance numbers--since it became part of New York Comicon in 2012. However, on the whole, the number of anime conventions has been on the rise, with AnimeCons.com’s reports showing 449 events being held, an increase of 53 from 2011’s 396.
The growing number of anime conventions is also reflected in the expanding number of convention attendees themselves. Many of the large-scale conventions are reporting higher attendance numbers, with LA’s Anime Expo, North America’s largest convention, topping the list at 49,400, its highest ever turnout.
Ranked number 2 in attendance numbers was Otakon at 32,724 people. Held in the Washington, D.C. area, and drawing a large number of students, Otakon is building a popularity on the East Coast on par with Anime Expo. Following Otakon are events with attendees in the twenty-thousand range, including Anime Central (Chicago) with 24,316 attendees, Anime North (Toronto) with 22,385, Anime Boston (Boston) with 22,065, A-Kon (Dallas) with 21,982, Sakura-Con (Seattle) with 20,214 and FanimeCon (San Jose) with about 21,000.
The Japanese anime and manga industry in North America took a steep downturn during the second half of the 2000s. Nevertheless, anime conventions have oddly been experiencing a sudden growth within the same period of time.
For example, in 2006, considered the peak of the anime business, both Anime Expo and Otakon had fewer people in attendance than they do now, at 40,647 and 22,302, respectively. Additionally, the six conventions with numbers in the twenty-thousand range in 2012 all had attendance numbers from 10,000 to 12,500 people in 2006. In short, the conventions in many major urban areas have doubled their attendance.
Likely to be an indicator of 2013’s overall attendance numbers, a convention to watch this year is the first ever Japan Expo USA, being held in August in Santa Clara, just outside of San Francisco. This event is being organized by the American branch of SEFA Event, which managed the 2012 Paris Japan Expo that drew 21,000 attendees. With French management and a glimpse into the attendance trends of subsequent North American anime conventions, it should be an interesting convention.