600 staff members and a year of planning goes into the annual Anime Matsuri convention, the 8th largest anime convention in North America. Promoting the Japanese culture, this 3-day event from April 7- April 9 at the George R. Brown Convention Center covers everything from cosplay, music, fashion, anime, to art and collectibles.
Founder Deneice Leigh started Anime Matsuri 11 years ago in the Woodlands, and as it grew exponentially, the convention was rezoned to downtown Houston to accommodate a larger, more diverse audience. Anime Matsuri is one of the few conventions that utilizes every single floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Leigh strives to bring in the hottest voice talents, anime creators and producers, Japanese musicians and fashion designers from the other hemisphere. This includes legendary Masami Suda, a character designer and chief animator of countless prominent anime shows. To Leigh, it’s all about bringing the latest Japanese anime and trends to the audience here, even if that means traveling to the country itself multiple times a year.
“We travel quite a bit to Japan. Last year, my husband alone went seven times for meetings or to see what’s popular, and also to network with some of these companies,” says Leigh.
Not only have we been checking out Japanese trends to bring to the States, but the same goes for Japan. Japanese companies have been incorporating themes from comic books and Marvel movies to come up with new anime movies such as Ghost in the Shell, that attract millennials globally.
In collaboration with Japanese company Sailor Moon, Anime Matsuri is also working with Aniplex USA and Studio Trigger to showcase exclusive clips of new anime shows just for the convention attendees. The Anime Matsuri convention is anything but conventional, as it has no particular theme encompassing the event.
“We like to be kind of unconventional. I like to challenges myself and my team does too. We like to see people’s reactions to various things. 90 percent of the time, it works because often times, our guest don’t know what they like themselves. There is no theme so it varies each year.”
Aside from live concerts and exhibit halls, Anime Matsuri is known for its grand Japanese fashion show – typically on Friday evenings – as it’s the first anime convention to host a large-scale Japanese fashion show outside of Japan. Just when you thought that is amazing, wait till you hear about the Club Anime Matsuri featuring Aural Vampire, the modified car show, and the Cosplay Contest which has had nearly 6,000 attendees in the past.
For more information, visit www.animematsuri.com or download the AnimeMatsuri app available on both Android and Apple. April 7-9, tickets from $30-$75