Animated business at Tokyo fair

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Exhibitors, visitors and organizers reported a larger turnout and increased business at the sixth annual Tokyo International Anime Fair, which ended its four-day run Sunday at the Big Sight exhibition center.

"The buyers' room has definitely been used a lot more this year, and we're very happy about that," fair representative Sunja Kunimoto said.

"There have been more than 50 meetings about all sorts of business collaborations, but our aim is to be more of a bridge before and after the show to provide the links throughout the year."

Organizers remained unwilling to reveal the details of deals that had been signed during the festival but were confident that "several arrangements will be signed in the coming months" as a result of meetings held at the event.

More than 25,000 people attended the first two days of the festival, set aside for industry visitors and the media, marking a substantial increase over the previous year. With the visitors from the public days Saturday and Sunday included, the total number of visitors surpassed last year's figure of 100,000, organizers said.

"We are very optimistic that good things are going to come out of this for us, although no deals have been finalized yet," said Asako Tomura, vp at Aniplex Inc. "Our meeting room has been fully occupied with clients, mainly discussing licensing possibilities, from Asia and Hollywood."

A producer of animated television series and movies, including "Blood: The Last Vampire" and "Naruto: The Movie," Aniplex has taken part in the previous Tokyo anime fairs, but Tomura said that this year was "far more active" than previous events, with a particularly noticeable increase in young women with an interest in anime.

Studio Ghibli's booth was among the busiest as it promoted the March release of Aleksandr Petrov's latest feature, "My Love," which was released March 17 in Japan.

"We've had a lot of public interest in the film, and there were several meetings with clients on the first day of the festival," said Junichi Nishioka, manager of the studio's public relations division. "But because we already have extensive links with licensees and distributors, the main aim of our presence here is to show the public what we are working on right now."

Francesco Prandoni, of the international operations division at Production I.G., said more interest was being shown in Japanese products by European and Asian companies, adding that agreements have been decided on a number of the company's properties. Upcoming Production I.G. releases include "Ghost Hound," directed by Ryutaro Nakamura.

A number of film schools, both Japan- and U.S.-based, were represented, with USC keen to promote a new bachelor's program in its School of Cinematic Arts.

Chris Kardy, director of U.S. operations for manga distributor Japanime Co., also reported a "high level of interest from clients."
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