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Northern Utah Just Became More Japanese

Thousands of costumed anime enthusiasts converged on the Davis Conference Center in Layton, Utah, for the 8th installment of Anime Banzai. Event organizers peg the convention as “an educational convention focusing on Japanese anime (animation), manga (comics) and culture. The convention started with an opening attendance of just 600 fans in 2005 and has grown to over 5,000 attendees for this year’s event.

BEAU, Anime BonzaiThe convention’s goal “is to bring an event to Utah where fans can come together to celebrate Japan and Japanese Culture in a fun, safe, family-friendly atmosphere.” Over the three day exhibition, attendees took part in cosplay contests, drawing competitions, dance parties and panels.

“Some people are Eastern Manga fans and some are Western Comic Book fans (it’s like asking ‘Do you like Elvis or The Beatles?’), but all of them respect the art and story that goes into the respected genres that these forms of entertainment are produced in,” says BEAU Comic and Sequential Art Program Chair Garrick Dean. “And that is what Anime Bonzai is—entertainment.”

BEAU, Anime BonzaiBEAU was proud to sponsor Anime Banzai for the third year in a row and take part in the festivities. BEAU also ran its annual panel. This year the university’s topic was “Turning Your Passion into a Profession.” Faculty talked about how individuals could turn their fan passion for Anime into a viable profession. Included on the panel were BEAU faculty members Rando Schmook, Garrick Dean, Mark Sorenson and Doug Wagner.

While the convention lacks in size compared to Salt Lake Comic Con, the event draws a passionate and loyal following. Many attendees have been coming to the event for years and find it a more intimate and specialized event. The Anime culture tends to focus more on books, comics and television shows, opposed to pop culture and blockbuster movies. It’s an underground culture that BEAU loves to support and help grow in Utah.

“Being an art school we support all forms of art in our community, whether it is fine art, comic art, sound art, entertainment art, etc.,” added Dean. “BEAU strives to be a part of this community and to show our support for those that wish to dedicate their lives in the pursuit of art.”