Eventer Life? Brainstorming for a Panel

I’m presenting a panel at AnimeNext 2017, down in Atlantic City, in June. It’s going to be more of the nuts and bolts about eventing, like what to do if you want to go to something. Just going to start getting prepared, and by that I mean I have all the ingredients in the fridge already, but it’s time to do some prep and put stuff on the back burner to let the grey matter do its thing.

To me eventing is like a pillar of the JP visual modern cultural complex, no different than, well, anime/manga/games or what have you. But much like a breakdown chart of the “anime industry” by the AJA splitting out the percent revenue each sector of the industry represents, eventing was not a fully recognized pillar, so to speak, until more recently. We can talk about licensing of anime or the sales of merchandise or the licensing of merchandise from anime, in great details (as this is a big thing historically), but it’s rather difficult to talk about this aspect of eventing. Part of it is because it’s kind of difficult to talk about, much like making a late-night TV anime, where the same result may be across different IP, but the motivation and the business model may be quite different from one to the next.

I think it’s easier to read and quote directly from the 2016 report. It’s a little more informative than the prior years anyways.

<Major Breakthrough of Live Entertainment>
Live anime‐related entertainment continued to make important breakthroughs. The market doubled in
the past three years since 2013 when the survey started, and recorded revenues of 52.3 billion yen in
2015, increasing by 68.4 % over the previous year. This increase, which may partially be attributed to
improved accuracy of surveying methods, was also significantly associated with the rapid growth of
overall domestic live entertainment markets, especially the growth of music market (i.e. revenues of
music concerts, stage performances, plays etc., including live entertainment related to animation). The
market size, which was 333.4 billion yen in 2012, became 503 billion yen, increasing by 51% over the
past three years.
At the same time, non‐staged live entertainment, such as anime museums, anime exhibitions and anime
cafés are also doing well. Although revenues of non‐staged live entertainment fall far short of those of
staged live entertainment, the field still makes constant progress. Animation is shifting from a thing to
be watched to a thing to be experienced, and the non‐staged live entertainment, which offers a feeling of
belonging to consumers, will continue to expand.
The sales amount arising from merchandise sold on‐site (i.e. concerts, events, museums and exhibitions)
is not included in the values in this report. If such revenues are included, and in some cases such they
exceed ticket revenues, the live entertainment market size may reach 10 billion yen or more..

(Click on chart for more readable version.)

The business of eventing is also not that interesting, as you can see. In a sense as a seiyuu otaku, I mostly care about the mechanism that enables, for example, Uma Musume, to exist in the degree that puts some notable IDOLM@STER names in the same production. But I know how a mobile game IP works, to a degree, and even if I don’t know, I am familiar with the way these CD albums have been released and that the voice actresses are a huge draw and reason why people care about a game that doesn’t even exist yet. And that’s probably all that I need to know at this point. Oh there will be an Uma Musume anime soon, too.

I don’t need to know, for example, that the Sailor Moon live action musicals are often sell out shows. And this is why you could have seen Asumiss dress up as a Persona 3 character in the stage play. Or ZAQ as Aegis. Or why maybe Wake Up Girls did a show earlier this year and I can’t buy the blu-ray (easily) because of Avex’s export restriction. Or why there are a bijillion theme cafes in Tokyo. Or why the Panties & Stocking Cafe is in Kobe.

Eventing in Japan, as the data above shows, is really just that. And anisong and seiyuu events have been happening for decades before AJA put it into its own category. I still missed out on watching those Sakura Taisen kayo shows, and would like to go once before it’s really too late. The “seiyuu idol” boom started in the 90s, with the likes of Hekiru Shiina and what have you, and those while counted more towards the bucket of traditional music industry stuff, today the market is sophisticated enough to know that a yen of Wake Up, Girls! money is different than a yen that Mizuki Nana brings in.

But it’s a lot less complicated than that. Zooming in, I went to Japan to see a concert because of various reasons. Maybe it’s an once-in-a-lifetime show. Maybe you want to go to every show your favorite artist puts on. Maybe because it’s a good time. Whatever. From there, we take a sequence of steps to take us from where we live our daily lives to a place at a time where the stuff happens. We can walk that path, but I think my panel is going to describe it and put it into words first.

And that’s not even all. If eventing is a way of life, it’s beyond just going to concerts or events or musicals. A good example or parallel is how a lot of American fans who go to anime conventions. They might go to one or three a year, and as they ramp up their prep to the show, there is excitement. There is the social and the prep aspect of it that is similar to how one might prepare to go to Japan from overseas, but there is also things like cosplay, making a panel, or what have you leading up. It could even be sharing the experience over social media, running an offkai, or just have that knowledge to share and help others to have a better time at the event, may it be AX or Anisama.

In a way that’s all nice and well, and there is no way to cover all of that in one hour. The more important thing, maybe, is to convey both the narrow specifics and lay out the big picture for people to explore on their own. It’s kind of hard to come up with a compelling thread to tie it together, though. I mean how do I explain how a frugal otaku becoming someone who wholesale-buy boxes of CDs for event lotteries…

PS. The 2016 English summary from AJA has 2  things I want to call out. First, the chart doesn’t really point out what live event, in the bottom graph regarding the “limited” scope, means. Second, they singled out anime music, which I kind of nod towards in that what’s a dollar for a DiveIIx81Produce project means versus, say, a normal concert by a normal musician under a major label. When someone gets, I don’t know, X Japan, to do a show at an oversea anime con, where does that money count towards? Or Man with a Mission with their one anime song? Are they just calling anime music events the ones that are typically billed as such (such as Anisama, Animax & Lisani)?

PPS. What does this count as?

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