The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) revealed on Wednesday more details about the "Anime Expo Lite" virtual event it will host in place of an in-person Anime Expo convention this year.
Anime Expo Lite 2021 will be held on July 3-July 4 from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. PDT (3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EDT) each day. Tickets to the event will cost US$5, with all proceeds going to the Hate is a Virus commUNITY Action Fund. Tickets are available to purchase now on the TIXR website. Those who purchase a ticket can also watch the streams on a video-on-demand (VOD) basis from July 5-16 in addition to the livestreamed event. SPJA stated that ticketholders will also be able to "access additional programming" on the VOD service.
Anime Expo Lite 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the Anime Expo convention. The event will feature streamed content from companies such as Bushiroad, Bandai Namco Arts, Crunchyroll, Right Stuf Anime, Viz Media, Sekai Project, WayForward, and more. The event will include panel discussions, industry announcements, live content, "exclusive content from Japan," Q&As, "community & educational segments," and "community features."
The Hate is a Virus organization describes itself as follows:Hate Is A Virus is a nonprofit community of mobilizers and amplifiers to dismantle racism and hate.
A movement started in 2020, Hate Is A Virus continues to amplify, educate and activate AAPI to stand for justice and equality in solidarity with other communities.
We do this by mobilizing our community to participate in local and national campaigns, creating safe spaces for dialogue and education, and providing actionable steps and funding in partnership with trusted community leaders and organizations.
This includes programs related to mental health, community-based solutions for safety, representation, solidarity-building, and so much more.
According to Tammy Cho, Co-Founder of Hate is a Virus, the organization "began as a grassroots movement in March 2020 when we started to witness a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes." Cho added, “Remaining silent is not an option. We are working to amplify, educate, and activate AAPI to stand for justice and equality in solidarity with other communities, and are excited to partner with Anime Expo to continue this mission.”
ANN interviewed Azusa Matsuda — Sr. Director of Business Development, Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation — about the change for this year's ticketing process and the reasons behind it.
ANN: The announcement says all proceeds of the $5 ticket price will go to Hate Is A Virus. To confirm, SPJA will not receive any money from the purchase of tickets?
Matsuda: Correct, as stated in the press release, the SPJA will not retain any of the funds from ticket sales, and we will pledge all proceeds to Hate Is A Virus.
ANN: Why did SPJA choose to create a ticket price this year if SPJA will not see any of the proceeds?
Matsuda: As a nonprofit organization, the SPJA has always been very community minded. In past years, our charity auction has supported a range of causes including disaster relief in Japan, Little Tokyo community organizations, and the Animator Dormitory in Japan.
ANN: What are the reasons SPJA chose Hate Is A Virus to receive the proceeds this year?
Matsuda: With our charity recipients, we consider both the current needs of our community as well as the long-term social impact. We resonate with Hate is a Virus's mission and want to help amplify their message and support their efforts.
ANN: What programming and other extras will Anime Expo Lite be offering this year to make the purchase worthwhile for fans?
Matsuda: We'll be celebrating our 30th anniversary with exclusive, never-before-seen footage from a variety of industry partners, cultural features, educational & career development content, as well as community segments.
Based on feedback from last year's event, we have extended the VOD availability for Anime Expo Lite 2021. Most content from July 3-4, as well as additional VOD-exclusive content will be available to watch from July 5th to 16th.
ANN: There will be some fans who cannot spare $5 right now due to personal difficulties due to the pandemic. Do you have a message for those who will be unable to pay for the ticket this year but who want to "attend" Anime Expo?
Matsuda: The average price for a 4-day Anime Expo badge was $104 in 2019. We hope that the $5 price, plus VOD access, presents an affordable and flexible way for fans around the world to enjoy Anime Expo and support a good cause at the same time.
ANN: Fans outside of the U.S. will definitely want to attend the event but might not know if they can watch the streams and participate in other ways. Will fans worldwide be able to purchase a ticket and watch the events? Will there be any events or streams that will be region locked?
Matsuda: Registration for Anime Expo Lite is available worldwide and will be able to watch according to their own time zones with the VOD feature. We will not restrict, or region lock, any content on our primary two channels, and all programming should be accessible in a majority of countries. However, some territories do regulate content internally, so we encourage overseas fans to check local ordinances and with their domestic service providers for more specific details. Due to streaming rights, a small selection of content may be available with geo- restrictions, but this will not impact our two primary channels. Where possible, we will notate known restrictions in our schedule.
Anime Expo 2020 was planned for last July but was canceled due to COVID-19. The organization instead hosted the "Anime Expo Lite" virtual event on July 3 and July 4. The event garnered more than 500,000 views from over 70 countries. The event featured over 50 hours of content such as panels, interviews, and announcements by Square Enix, Warner Bros. Japan, Bushiroad, Crunchyroll, Pony Canyon, and Viz Media.
Badge holders who have rolled their registration over to this year's event will get priority access to registration for next year's event.
The SPJA announced last August that it had transitioned to become a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organization effective January 1, 2020. The organization stated that it was formerly a 501(c)(6) trade association.
Sources: Interview with Azusa Matsuda, press release