The first-ever North American summit on anime -- an invite-only event -- will be held in Colorado on Saturday. Working in partnership with the Consulate-General of Japan, the Rocky Mountain Anime Association (parent company of Nan Desu Kan, Colorado's massively successful yearly anime convention) will host SANA, a day of discussion headed up by a panel of experts from all corners of the anime world -- from voice actors to academic scholars of the art form. The gathering was created at the request of the Japanese government, which is interested in understanding what it means to love anime in America.
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And Colorado was specifically selected as the site of the first-ever summit on anime, because of the devoted fan base here. "Honestly, we landed this summit because the consulate in Colorado is actually very, very fantastic about being in tune with what the fans want and being active in the community," says Jeremy Pieta, co-secretary of RMAA. "As far as we could tell, they hadn't asked anyone else in the country, and that was amazing to us. We were shocked and surprised."
Speakers at the March 23 summit include anime historian and former studio owner Jerry Beck; script adaptor and voice actor Christopher Bevins; Ian Condry, a cultural anthropologist and associate professor of Japanese cultural studies at MIT; Alisa Freedman, author and associate professor of Japanese literature and film at University of Oregon; Kevin McKeever, director of marketing at television production company Harmony Gold; and Sarah Sullivan, convention and events manager for FUNimation Entertainment.
The morning's keynote panel will focus on anime's function in North America, after lunch there will be a discussion between the panelists and 200 pre-selected anime fans. "It's a roundtable discussion to get everyone together and talking about why anime is popular in America," explains Pieta. "What is the 'X' factor? What is it about anime that no one can really produce as well as the Japanese can?
"The anime fans we have in Colorado specifically and the culture we have around fandom here is very responsive to this kind of conversation," Pieta continues. "To have the fans here involved, because they are so excited, to have a chance to have them have a voice in this kind of thing is exciting."
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Pieta hopes to see the summit lead to advancements in the anime-production industry. "I don't think we're stagnant, but I do think the industry is in a place where we have to decide where we go to next," he says. "We have to try to figure out how to get a wider and more multicultural view into the place where anime is made. The cultural impact of this kind of phenomenon needs to be more globally understood. Reaching out for an opinion on what do people other than the Japanese think about anime is something I'd like to see coming out of this event."
SANA is closed to the public, but Nan Desu Kan's official website will have more information on the outcome of the summit.
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