Oct 12 / Sozoroo TEAM

The State of Anime Merchandise in the U.S.: The Fusion of Art and Business

Section 1: The American Art Scene
The anime and merchandise market in the United States is a noteworthy phenomenon with an enthusiastic fan base, much like its Japanese counterpart. Even at American anime events, there is an area reminiscent of Japan's Comic Market, that supports the fans' creative endeavors.

Section 2: Artist Alley
Artist Alley is an immensely popular section at American anime events. Here, fans have the opportunity to sell their own creations, primarily consisting of doujinshi (zines) and fanart merchandise. Unlike Japan's doujinshi market, you'll find a diverse range of items, including posters, stickers, zines, and various merchandise. Prices tend to be higher, with fanzines garnering significant attention. The American doujinshi market, while less known compared to Japan, holds promise for future growth.

Section 3: The Landscape of Zine Printing
The situation of zine printing in the United States is characterized by relatively higher prices compared to Japan. While quality remains somewhat uncharted territory, it is a reliable choice for American zine creators. Additionally, there is a high level of trust in Japanese printing technology, even abroad.

Section 4: American Anime Fans and Art
American anime fans exhibit unique artistic styles, distinguished by their exposure to both American animation and comics (anime and manga, or "anime" and "comics"). As a result, distinct characteristics, such as unique character illustrations and bold, masculine lines, are prevalent in the works of American artists. These artists bring a unique perspective to the anime art scene, offering different visual elements to explore.

Section 5: Corporate Booths - Exhibition Hall
Corporate booths are a significant attraction at American anime events. In this section, commercial enterprises and fan creators sell official merchandise to fans. American corporate booths also feature exclusive merchandise not available in Japan. However, it's important to note that prices and quality may not always align with Japanese standards, requiring fans to exercise caution in their purchases.

Section 6: Commission Systems - A New Business Model
American anime events commonly feature commission systems, where artists charge for sketches or "sketchbooks" (often referred to as "skebs" in Japan). Some artists offer this service for a fee, allowing fans to request custom illustrations. While this approach is prevalent, it has raised discussions due to its commercial nature. The higher prices have led to debates concerning the shift towards a more commercialized interaction between fans and artists.
The landscape of anime and merchandise in the United States is marked by unique features and a different approach compared to Japan. The convergence of art and business is an ongoing trend, and there is optimism for its future development.