The history of Animazement began in 1997, when TAAS (Triangle Area Anime Society) held the first 36-Hour Anime Marathon event. TAAS, led by North Carolina State University Students, was an anime club for fans of all ages. Their weekly meetings were attended by a diverse group of fans from central North Carolina, ranging in age from elementary school students to adults. At the 36-Hour Anime Marathon, over 200 fans from all across North Carolina were able to gather for a weekend of anime-related fun. The organizers began considering holding an anime convention, and this event was viewed as a sort of test-case for what would eventually become Animazement.

At that time, there were other anime conventions already being held on the East Coast. For example, Anime Weekend Atlanta in Georgia, Katsukon in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Otakon in Baltimore, Maryland. But, there was not yet an anime convention being held in North Carolina. For many students and members of TAAS, attending the large out-of-state conventions just wasn’t possible, even though they would have liked to.

So, a planning committee was formed, and its members began attending various anime conventions, considering what kind of convention North Carolina’s first anime convention should be. With the exception of Anime Expo, all of the conventions they attended were sponsored by volunteer organizations. Because of this, plans were made to create Animazement as a volunteer-run convention, not a commercially-based one.

The committee also noted that many anime conventions were aimed at adults, selling alcohol, showing anime and selling goods that were targeted at older audiences. But because TAAS had included children, teens, and adults from the beginning, we aimed to create a family-friendly convention that fans of all ages could enjoy together. Another factor that distinguished Animazement from other convention was our focus on providing an introduction to Japanese language and culture through anime and manga.

Our planning committee members had much to learn from attending other conventions, such as what is sold in the Dealer’s Room, how many Video Rooms to hold, about how big of a Dealer’s Room to provide, etc. They also attended many guest panels, concerts, and Japanese cultural panels covering a diverse array of topics, such as sushi-making demonstrations, Japanese archery, karate, Japanese business methods classes, and a variety of Japanese language classes aimed at children and adults. We also began cultivating relationships with many of our sponsors, such as the North Carolina Japan Center, the Nippon Club of the Triangle, local Japanese companies and businesspeople, Duke University, NC State University, and many other public and private schools, as well as local Japanese teachers.

With the hard work and coordination of our many volunteers, the first Animazement was held in 1998. Around 700 attendees participated in the convention, and we welcomed 18 special Japanese and American guests of honor. Our attendance has grown steadily every year, and by 2009, we welcomed nearly 6,000 attendees!

In order to keep up with our growing attendance, the number of our staff and volunteers has increased every year as well. Each new Animazement also brought a greater variety of cultural events, including a dream of one of our guests of honor. In 2003, our special guest Koichi Tsunoda and 12 student volunteers from the Japanese School of Raleigh held a Parents and Childrens Anime Classroom. Principal Mimura of the Japanese School of Raleigh was also a positive influence on introducing Japanese culture at the convention, by hosting Japanese calligraphy and cooking classes. The Triangle Taiko club was formed in 2002, and in 2003, began performing at Animazement. In this manner, a wide variety of local Japanese cultural organizations became involved with Animazement, and the number of local Japanese persons participating at Animazement also increased.

Animazement’s unique blend of Japanese-American cultural exchange can also be seen in the structure and organization of the convention. Animazement is unique in America, in that it is planned and organized by both Japanese and American people. Among our volunteers are many local Japanese people who can use their skills to respond to our needs, and many Americans who have a good opportunity to further their study of Japanese culture.

From here on, we believe that Animazement’s primary goal will be to further our mission to introduce Japanese language and culture through anime and manga, and to bring together both American and Japanese people from the area. To that end, we strive to bridge cultural divides, by bringing together a variety of Japanese and American special guests, and creating more points of contact between Japanese and American people. But not only through our convention, we also endeavor to create opportunities to introduce Japanese language and culture outside of Animazement!

Number of Attendees:

Year Number of Attendees Location
1998 735 North Raleigh Hilton, Raleigh NC
1999 1235 North Raleigh Hilton, Raleigh NC
2000 1640 North Raleigh Hilton, Raleigh NC
2001 1800 Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Durham NC
2002 2050 Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Durham NC
2003 2300 Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Durham NC
2004 2500 Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Durham NC
2005 2750 Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Durham NC
2006 3100 Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Durham NC
2007 4342 Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Durham NC
2008 5374 Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Durham NC
2009 5964 Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh NC
2010 7070 Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh NC