Fans Say Anime Brings a Deeper Appreciation for Japan

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 Brittany J. Terrazas, 24, is unapologetically obsessed with all things anime and her stockpile of films in her California home is evidence of that.

Her collection is swelling with Ghibli films, Fruits Basket, Marmalade Boy, Yu Yu Hakusho, Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon, Gundam Wing and more.

Terrazas says her passion for anime and manga has piqued her interest in Japanese culture.

“My interest in anime has most definitely influenced a greater appreciation of the Japanese culture,” says Terrazas, a Hispanic from West Covina, Calif. “You can say I’m a bit obsessed with it. In high school my friends used to say I should have been born Asian.”

Anime fans like Terrazas are gearing up for the Anime Expo in Los Angeles, Calif., which is scheduled for July 1 to 4. Expo officials are expecting some 125,000 attendees this year, an increase of 16,000 from last year’s event.

The expo, which is one of the massive anime conventions in California, began in 1992 in San Jose, attracting some 1,750 attendees. But event officials say the attendance is only one of the ways the Anime Expo has changed over the years.

“Like time and tide, things always keep moving forward, AX is no different,” says Marc Perez, CEO and board chairman of the Society of the Promotion of Japanese Animation, or SPJA. “We have moved from Northern California to Southern California, grown from 1,000 attendees to 109,000 in 2010 and we offer more programming and unique events then ever before. If you name it we have probably changed it.”

Working on the weekends as a cashier has kept Terrazas from attending the past few expos. But Terrazas can always get the inside scoop from her fellow anime friends like Cody Holt, who is making plans to attend the event.

“I am attending this year’s expo, however I’m only going for two things this year. The first and most important reason is the debut of Hatsune Miku,” says Holt, 23, of the virtual singer developed by Crypton Future Media. “I want to be there on this historic day when a hologram takes the stage. The second thing is just to enjoy all the custom made costumes by other anime lovers.”

Cosplay, or costume play, is perhaps what most people outside of the anime community associate most with the fans of the Japanese anime and manga. At anime conventions like Fanime Con and Anime Los Angeles fans don their favorite costumes in homage to anime characters like Sailor Moon or Simon from Gurren Lagann.  Read more here.