Anime events have spread all around the world with conventions held all around the world.
But, do you know what events are like in Japan?
Now let’s start this off by saying that Japan doesn’t really have a western convention equivalent.
At conventions overseas, panels might be the main draw of an event, hosted all day by both fans and the famous guys, 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, all about the companies promoting new series.
Along with those are the exact opposite, the events that are essentially the “dealer halls” only, where people sell their fan made or self-published work.
I’ve also mixed in some smaller and more odd ones that definitely shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle with the big events.
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!
Note: These events are held every year. For more anime events, click here.
A huge anime trade show held at Tokyo Big Sight every year.
They have big impressive booths set up of upcoming anime series and they tend to give out some nice promo stuff to boot.
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.
It’s one of the flashiest of all of these, it’s sure to leave a strong impression.
March 20 – March 22, 2020
Oh boy, it’s Comiket. You know Comiket. It’s in the animes, it’s in the mangos, you’ve read Genshiken, right?
Probably the most important at least culturally out of all of these, it’s a giant fire hazard spanning the entire Tokyo Big Sight that people camp out for from the night before.
All sorts of people, from amateurs who’re there to show their hard work, to the pros who people are lined up out the door for, publish doujins (self-published manga, for the dummies) 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 lighting were to strike from it, it’d be an evil cartoonish purple.
It’s huge, it’s cool, it’s Comiket. Ehhh you already know what Comiket is. It’s the most famous anime event in Japan. It’s like 80% porn, it’s really something you can only witness in Japan.
- Winter: 12/29/2019 – 12/31/2019
- Summer: 5/2/2020 – 5/5/2020 (Golden Week, moved for Olympics)
You’ve seen Comiket for drawn fan works, 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.
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 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 more lively and talkative. Hmmm maybe it’s because working in 3D inherently makes them higher dimensional beings.
- Winter: February 8, 2020
- Summer: Late July, 2020 (Moved for Olympics)
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 gets together every other Friday in Ikebukuro.
A great place for meeting Japanese people and practicing your Japanese as well as meeting English speakers living in Tokyo or just dropping by.
Get boozy with fellow anime fans, good times. We have an article up about it here
Dates: Held every other Friday
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 high effort and impressive, so it’s definitely worth visiting the event to see the best of the best.
Dates: Late July 2020
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 ol’ classics from yesteryear like Fukkireta and Airman ga Taosenai, Niconico’s been around since forever.
Niconico Chokaigi’s goal is to be an event where that bizarre culture exists physically. It’s a huge mishmashed “everything” event with anime, games, vocaloid, doujins, itasha, cosplay, live shows, dogs and cats living together, 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: Late April 2020
There’s so many of them- look at them march. Are they leaving to fight in 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 Pikachus 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 2020
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 pieces.
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: Late August 2020
Tokyo Game Show
Not exactly an anime event, but anime is no stranger to Japan’s video game industry.
Japan’s version of the big video game expo, Tokyo Game Show doesn’t disappoint.
TGS has probably been floating around attached to the news and trailers you’ve been watching for years. Well, 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 event huge.
You don’t even need to play a game, 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’s the same, it’s the little differences in game lineup and just the fact that it’s in Japan that’ll make this an event to remember.
Business exclusive day: 9/12-13/2019
Public day: 9/14-15/2019
Note: These events are held every year.