Gunsmith Cats Bg Chicago
Gunsmith Cats Bg Chicago

2023 Annual Report: My Kind of Town

Here at AnimeChicago, we’re serious about connecting our local anime community and celebrating the best of Japanese pop culture. That’s been our mission for 17 years now.

Last year was no different. Let’s dive into how we accomplished that and what’s to come!

What we achieved in 2023

8 Impactful Highlights

Last year, we worked hard to:

  • continue hosting over 8 meetups every month for our members
  • present Melanated & Animated with the Japanese Arts Foundation at Logan Theatre
  • introduce the works of Studio Ghibli to Chicago Public School’s online anime club
  • educate attendees during Japan Fest at the Chicago Cultural Center
  • host several meetups to C2E2, Anime Central, and Anime Magic
  • promote and gather at our C2E2 booth, inviting con-goers to contribute their anime memories to our Story Boards
  • live-record a podcast episode during our C2E2 Watanabe panel
  • produced 4 episodes of our essay-style podcast Anime’s Game Changers

Membership: It’s Over 3000!

Our recruitment, attendance, and member activity broke records. That’s 17% growth across the year! We’re especially grateful for the 35+ donors that helped us raise over $2000.

4.8 Stars!

We hear you and are staying the course in 2024. About 80% of our 140+ events will stay online to give you multiple chances to connect regardless of your location and needs. We’re retaining current leadership, educational programs, and fan-favorite socials like At-Con Mixers, Beach Day, Picnic Day, and our Holiday Exchange.

What’s coming in 2024

The team’s moving forward on these improvements:

  • announce our event schedule quarterly so you can plan ahead
  • open RSVPs for in-person meetups 2 weeks out to reduce No Shows  
  • shorten online mixers to 1.5 hours to keep social energy high
  • resolve hardware and chat issues for Anime Samplers to improve the experience
  • make Bingo an official Sampler activity to help folks identify common tropes
  • move Anime Circle to Thursday evenings with less “homework” to increase attendance
  • reboot Art Anthology pitches on a triannual schedule to increase submissions
  • syndicate Anime’s Game Changers on popular podcasters to reach more listeners
  • overhaul AnimeChicago.com articles and guides to help and educate more readers
  • experiment with new ways to show everything AnimeChicago offers to newcomers
  • lean into that “Big Chicago Energy” to showcase our city pride

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State of Chicago’s Anime Scene

  • We loved Kinokuniya’s expansion, new gashapon machines, and Bandai’s One Piece TCG pop-up at Mitsuwa. More of that, please!
  • Local malls like Woodfield are catering to niche fandoms, fueling a resurgence in anime-focused pop culture stores – more figures, more apparel, more food options.
  • We’re hopeful for the next generation of manga-bingers as they swarm 3 new Barnes & Noble locations opening in Chicago.
  • Art house theaters could take Facets’ lead in establishing anime-focused memberships for viewers in walking distance.
  • Local businesses are embracing Japanese pop culture vibes: anime screenings, manga libraries, anime murals, and anisong tunes are just the start.

Our 2024 predictions

  • If you haven’t noticed, liking anime is the thing right now. Big companies will pander to the 42% of Gen Z who watch weekly. So brace yourself for cringey execs who don’t get it, but also look forward to your favorite celebrities coming out of the anime closet.
  • And it’s not just watchers. The entire Japanese anime industry might grow another 6% – likely because of the downright abusive practices of production committees and studios. We hope animation talent will push to unionize so they can collectively improve their physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Monthly anime streaming subscriptions will raise prices again as competition continues to shrink. We just watched Funimation’s streaming service fold into Crunchyroll and anger their customers. Yeah, it’s gonna be like that.
  • More random tie-ins will hit theaters with zero fanfare. You’ll likely hear about these anime films days after screenings end, which is a terrible outcome if you really do want to support creators and theaters directly. We hope U.S. film distributors like GKIDS, Fathom, and Crunchyroll get this message and improve their promotion efforts across Chicago specifically.
  • Pop culture cons will lose their luster as convention centers, exhibition installers, hospitality industries, and industry guests hike their fees. These big shows will need to innovate or downsize to generate pre-pandemic revenue.

Onward!

I’m personally proud of the great work our team accomplished in 2023, and honored for your continued support. It’d be impossible to do this without the overwhelming appreciation and positivity of our community members.

If you enjoy our work, even $20 helps fund our social outreach, educational programs, art initiatives, and more behind the scenes.

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Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

Featured Image: Gunsmith Cats