Since our founding sixteen years ago, AnimeChicago has grown from a small group of friends to a vibrant and engaged community of anime fans. The world is truly different now—and so are we. In 2022, we doubled down on our most popular initiatives, trimmed unpopular programs, and embraced hybrid events. But what hasn’t changed is our commitment to educating our community on Japanese pop culture and anime.
I’m delighted to share our wins today and what’s on the horizon for AnimeChicago.
What we achieved in 2022
Increased activity by 20% – a new record!
Membership grew thanks to marketing improvements, Meetup search upgrades, and Chicago’s revived social calendar. 431 folks joined. 1434 RSVP’d. Discord activity doubled while staying charming and kind. I appreciate the quality blend of anime trash scattered between psychological analyses of Evangelion. Thanks for being here!
Evolved the hybrid format
We successfully hosted six Mixers and some bigger events at physical locations. Our 1:4 ratio of offline-to-online meetups boosted attendance, improved access for folks with travel concerns, and simplified team duties.
We’re podcasters now
JPod and Neil launched the pilot episode of Anime’s Game Changers to honor trash titan Hiroyuki Imaishi. Each episode is a large research project which will help establish our new education program. Listen now, and check back next week for Episode 2.
- Celebrated our 16th year with ramen lunch
- Hosted 8+ meetups every month
- Published 4 Anthology issues
- Continued Wednesday night Art Circles
- Organized our first Cosplay Parade at Anime Central
- Tested Watchalongs and Anime Circle upgrades
- Rebuilt our promotion pipeline to reach more people
- Raised $2,127 to support our costs
What’s coming in 2023
Continued hybrid format
We’re assessing our online-to-offline meetup ratio for Spring quarter. But we’ve already penciled in six IRL Mixers, beach and picnic outings, and convention weekends for C2E2, Anime Central, and Anime Magic. Expect some impromptu meetups as we learn what films are coming to theaters.
Growing educational catalog
Ironically, the Streaming Era has expanded educational access and shortened attention spans. Con panels now skew towards entertainment in a post-Lockdown world, so we’re pausing panel applications and recording our content instead. The new podcast is one part of that goal! Stay tuned for an update around Summer.
Boosting local creators
We’re exploring new ways to establish, promote, and fund Chicago’s anime-inspired artists and creators now that Art Circle and Anthologies have taken off. Interested in shaping this program? Please get in touch with us for more details.
Also in the works…
- Fundraising for our $2000 goal to cover daily costs, podcast tools, subscription hikes, and a new artist program to be announced
- Expanding promotion to reach more people across different channels
- Improving our No Show policies to give Waitlisters better odds of attending
- Testing different ways to increase weekly engagement on Discord
- Trying some edutainment options to inform a bigger audience
State of Chicago’s Anime Scene
New film celebrations
Fathom Events, Ghibli Fest, and Crunchyroll Nights have brought anime titles to U.S. theaters for over a decade. Now local nonprofits Japanese Arts Foundation and Facets will host monthly screenings and occasional celebrations supporting local art house theaters. Let’s pack those events!
The elephant in the air
Con Crud was already gross before Covid hit the scene. Sadly, big cons dropped most safety measures last year. Protect yourself and your community with these simple but unpopular practices: mask indoors, avoid risky people, and request rapid tests before your party.
Our predictions for 2023
- The golden age of panel programming is over. Streaming platforms and infectious diseases have reset priorities. Expect fewer critical-thinking panels and more influencer-entertainment panels at cons across the nation.
- Less choice for consumers. Major conglomerates will continue absorbing every profitable anime producer, licensor, distributor, and media outlet. Expect more sameness and less weirdness under their leadership.
- Return of the social club. As if to spite “Big Anime,” there’s a boom of small anime groups catering to particular niches like cosplay, anisong, and fitness. This is a much-needed trend, given how Lockdown impacted friendships over the last three years.
- Increased fury over AI-generated goods. AI creators chose a strange hill to die on since mass-generated graphics only dilute the value of struggling Artist Alleys. Fortunately, artists making human connections on the canvas and at their booths will triumph.
- Japan will get pricier. Covid did a number on Japanese tourism in 2020, the Yen’s value plunged in 2021, and borders reopened in October 2022 in time for hanami planning. Expect your Japan-loving friends to book travel soon.
From growing our membership to launching our podcast, AnimeChicago has never been stronger or more committed to our mission of celebrating Japanese animation.
Sixteen years is a long time to be doing anything. I’m grateful to build and serve this wonderful community with the best crew possible. The entire team appreciates your continued enthusiasm for making Chicago one of the best cities for anime fans in the U.S.
Impressed? Please support our efforts with a $5 donation today.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!