Anime events have spread all around the world with conventions, held all around the world.
But do you know what these events are like in Japan?
Now let’s start this off by saying that Japan doesn’t really have an equivalent to a typical Western anime/comic convention.
At conventions overseas, panels might be the main draw of an event, hosted all day by both fans and famous people, but in Japan, events tend to be more expo or trade show style.
You’ll often find the big industry events, kind of equivalent to an E3 or a PAX but for anime, where all companies are promoting new series.
Along with those company exhibitions, there are events that are essentially the “dealer halls” only, where people sell their fan-made or self-published work as well.
I’ve also mixed in some smaller and unique ones that definitely shouldn’t be lost with the big events, too.
There’s lots of events to choose from, but I’ve compiled a list of the largest, best, and most worthwhile anime events in Tokyo, complete with descriptions of why they’d be an all-around good time for you to check out in person, dear reader!
AnimeJapan is a huge anime trade show is held at Tokyo Big Sight every year.
They have big, impressive booths set up for upcoming anime series, and they tend to give out some nice promo stuff to boot.
In there, you’ll find plenty feast your eyes on, like art exhibitions, statues, dioramas, and live performances around the show floor.
Despite what I said earlier, panels aren’t completely out of the picture. Several stages will host panels with industry guests, many of them voice actors.
As one of the flashiest of these events, it’s sure to leave a strong impression.
The dates for AnimeJapan 2023 haven’t been announced yet, but usually, it always takes place during the last week of March.
Oh boy, it’s Comiket. You know Comiket. It’s in the animes, it’s in the manga, you’ve read Genshiken, right?
Probably the most important, at least culturally, out of all of these, Comiket is essentially a giant fire hazard spanning the entire Tokyo Big Sight that people camp out for from the night before. That’s how massive the scale and subsequent crowd is at this event.
All sorts of people, from amateurs who’re there to show their hard work, to the pros who have fans are lined up out the door for, publish doujins (self-published manga, for the uninformed) exclusively for the event.
It’s a big deal, held twice a year: in winter and summer.
Scary story: One Summer Comiket years ago, an actual cloud formed inside Tokyo Big Sight made of 700,000 peoples’ perspiration. If lightning were to strike from it, it’d be an evil cartoonish purple.
It’s huge, it’s cool, it’s Comiket. You may already know what Comiket is; it’s the most famous anime event in Japan. It’s like 80% porn, only really something you can only witness in Japan.
- Winter: 12/24/2022 – 12/27/2022
- Summer (Comiket 100!): 8/13/2022 – 8/14/2022
You’ve seen Comiket for drawn fanworks, now we’re entering the next dimension. That’s right, the third one:
Wonder Festival is Comiket but for figures!
It’s the same idea of, “you can sell fan-stuff of our characters at this one event, and we won’t send the lawyer firing squad to your house!” but again, for figures. (Similar to the USA, fanworks are a bit of a grey area legally, so copyright enforcement for fanworks can be shaky at best, but that’s a whole other story.)
Sculptors from across Japan gather at this one-day event held twice a year at Makuhari Messe, where fan-produced figures or garage kits are sold.
They generally come in pieces and are unpainted, so it requires some skill on your part to make whatever you buy look presentable, but even despite that relatively high barrier of entry, tons of people come to the event.
As a side note, I’ve actually noticed that compared to Comiket, the sellers and people in general at Wonder Festival are way livelier and more talkative. Maybe it’s because working in 3D inherently makes them higher dimensional beings XD
- Winter: February 5, 2023
- Summer: July 24, 2022
Not into the big crowds? Visiting Tokyo for the big events but looking for some people you can sit down and actually have a conversation with? Maybe you have Smile Bomb stuck in your head?
Well, this place might be for you.
Animers is an anime meetup for English and Japanese speakers that rents out a whole floor of a bar and gets together every other Friday in Ikebukuro.
This is a great place for meeting Japanese people and practicing your Japanese as well as meeting English speakers living in Tokyo or just dropping by.
Dates: Held once per month
World Cosplay Summit
The biggest event focusing on cosplay and everything about cosplay in Tokyo.
World Cosplay Summit is both a gathering of cosplayers and a straight-up tournament. Judged on acting ability and staging on top of the costumes themselves, it’s all some high-level stuff!
Japanese cosplay in general tends to lean into high effort and impressiveness, so it’s definitely worth visiting the event to see the best of the best.
Dates: August 5-7, 2022
Niconico, Japan’s version of YouTube, has played a huge part in Japan’s (and our) internet culture.
From the comments and “wwwwwwww”s moving left across the screen to the good old classics of yesteryear like Fukkireta and “I Cannot Defeat Airman, Niconico’s been around forever.
Niconico Chokaigi’s goal is to be an event where that bizarre culture exists physically. It’s a huge mish-mashed “everything” event with anime, games, Vocaloids, doujins, itasha (anime-decorated cars), cosplay, live shows, dogs and cats living together, and mass hysteria.
The event really sells itself as being random awesome internet insanity all thrown into one blender of a convention, and for Niconico that works perfectly.
Dates: No date is set for 2023.
There’s so many of them–look at them march. Are they leaving to fight a war?
Every year, Yokohama’s streets get overrun by 2,000 dancing Pikachu in a giant parade throughout the city. From kids to adults, everyone comes to see the festivities. Bust a move and join in, because this party train isn’t stopping anytime soon.
The number of Pikachu grows every single year, the previous one having a Pikachu count of 1,500, now at 2,000. Let’s cheer them on and hope they don’t take over.
Dates: Early-Mid August 2023
Animelo Summer Live, ‘Anisama’
Pack yourself into Saitama Super Arena and buckle up, because at max arena capacity, you and 36,499 other people are about to get your souls suplexed right into the ground by 150 decibels of anisong. Rest in peace.
Your grave will be marked by glow sticks.
If you’ve ever seen concert footage online of one of your favorite anime openings being performed live in a giant stadium, it could very well be from Anisama.
Get those tickets while you can. and seriously, go to one of these, there’s nothing like hearing anisong live.
Dates: August 26-28, 2022
Tokyo Game Show
Though not exactly an anime event, anime is no stranger to Japan’s video game industry.
Japan’s version of the big video game expo, the Tokyo Game Show (TGS), doesn’t disappoint.
TGS has probably been floating around attached to the news and trailers you’ve been watching for years. That is because this is where the magic happens.
TGS brings out the big guns in spectacle and scale, with crazy big displays and booths, shoving Anime Japan into second place in terms of money being dumped into making the huge event.
Trust me, you don’t even need to play a demo, it’s worth it just to walk around the convention center.
If you’ve been to another incarnation of these big video game expos overseas, while a lot is similar, it’s the little differences in the game lineup, and just the fact that it’s in Japan, that’ll make this an event to remember.
Business exclusive day: September 15 – 16th, 2022
Public day: September 17th – 18th, 2022
Note: These events are held every year.