Simply put, AniMatsuri is a festival for those interested in the Japanese culture. The emphasis is on the Japanese pop culture – anime, manga (Japanese comic), music, video games, fashion, etc. This is a two-day festival organized and run by volunteers with the goal to bring together Japanese culture enthusiasts from Estonia, its neighbors, and even farther. During this weekend the visitors can listen to presentations, take part in various workshops, witness or even participate in multiple competitions and most important, interact with other culture enthusiasts. The organizers are all fans of the Japanese culture and want to provide a safe and cozy place for others like them, be they just started anime fans or serious japanophiles. While the event is mainly aimed at teens, even adults will have something to enjoy in the programme. The goal of AniMatsuri is to provide entertainment and fun activities to the awesome community without whom the festival would not be happening.
And as two days are clearly not enough to introduce the Japanese culture, a new festival has emerged in the past few years – Japan Month. For four weeks in September and October we organize interesting events in Tartu and Tallinn for Japanese culture enthusiasts of all ages. There will be presentations, workshops, movie nights, video game and board game evenings, demonstrations and concerts.
What is anime and what is manga?
Anime (animation) and manga (comics) are a few of the most well-known terms one could use to describe the contemporary Japanese youth culture. What differentiates these two definitions from the animations or comics produced in the west is a broader selection of genres (from kids’ shows to science fiction, from comedy to martial arts), a beautiful and detailed visual side, and the versatility of the characters (the world is not always a black and white battle between good and evil). Such versatility has also inspired Hollywood. The creators of the famous Matrix movie trilogy, The Wachowski Brothers have said that a huge inspiration for the movie series has been Mamoru Oshii’s cult anime Ghost in the Shell released in 1995.
As a result of the cooperation between Hollywood and the Japanese animators, a number of works based on the heroes of DC and Marvel comics have been brought to the audiences, for example Batman, Wolverine, and Iron Man, to name a few. Japan is also one of the largest and most successful animation producers in the world. The commercial value of the anime in USA alone is estimated to be 334 million euros. The mangas are on a similar position, although less popular. In Japan, however, the manga market is considerably broader, in 2007 being 3,2 billion euros.
In addition to anime and manga, the Japanese game developers also have a remarkable influence. Many are familiar with game consoles like Sony PlayStation or Nintendo Wii, and games such as Super Mario, Final Fantasy (one of the most successful standard setters in the fantasy genre), Pokémon, Resident Evil, MegaMan, and many others.
The organizer of AniMatsuri is NPO Japanese Culture Club Asashio founded in 2005 in Tartu.