[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]’ve been attending Anime Expo since 2003 and have loved each and every event. Along with getting bigger, moving to different venues, and drawing ever-increasing crowds of fans, the convention has also seen an increase in video game-related content. Sure, games might not be anime, but there’s a huge crossover between both forms of media. The weirdest thing to me was that Anime Expo 2015 in particular was party to multiple massive Kickstarter announcements for video games. Sure, there was also big news in the anime and Japanese music sphere, but my personal interest was in all the crowdfunding goings on. It was surprising, but in a good way!
The first piece of news, which would have been a megaton announcement if kept private, was the reveal that visual novels Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative were going to Kickstarter for localization. A press release went out prior to the press meeting, which is how sites learned of it beforehand and then posted the news. In any case, the news itself was still pretty darn exciting! These visual novels spurred an immensely popular franchise in Japan that many English-speaking folks have been waiting on. Unfortunately, the Kickstarter is still a ways away (planned for August or September) so excitement is going to simmer down for a while before we get a chance to throw our wallets at it.
In another, and much more surprising twist (to me, anyway), Keiji Inafune announced his next game as RED ASH during a panel. Now, this wasn’t a complete surprise, as Inafune teased that something was coming a few days prior, but it shocked a lot of crowdfunding fans due to the fact that Mighty No. 9 is still not out! This successfully-crowdfunded title has basically completed development, but is still a few months off from getting into the hands of everyday gamers. Now, I’ve actually already played it thanks to my time at E3, and I can at least share that the title does feel like it’s in finished form aside from some last minute bug fixes. The Kickstarter for RED ASH is succeeding, though definitely at a pace much slower than his past campaign.
So, somehow two gigantic events in Kickstarter history were announced fully at Anime Expo 2015 despite this being a convention designed around anime and not games. It’s because of that I have to expect we’ll see even more of this via panels and press events in the future. For those who are unaware, Anime Expo is the largest anime convention in North America which likely explains why companies waited to share such news there, rather than any other anime convention since there are tons across the states. But, that wasn’t the only place where crowdfunding showed up.
Even on the exhibit hall floor, where copious booths showcased their latest Blu-Ray discs, figures, doujin comics, and more, there were crowdfunding games to be found. It might be obvious but Sekai Project’s booth was a hotbed for them. Although they obviously didn’t have the games available, they did sell posters and postcards for Starlight Vega and The Human Reignition Project. Both of these games were picked up by Sekai Project so it was nice to see that they were featured alongside their own, non-crowdfunded visual novel releases such as Nekopara Vol. 1.
Then there was Artist Alley – a massive, congested space where artists of various types sell their posters, shirts, plushies, buttons, and more. Throughout all of this I somehow stumbled upon Animal Lover, a visual novel which succeeded on Kickstarter that we’ve covered previously on Cliqist. They had a demo available (alongside their unrelated artwork). It was great to see this there, as the visual novel and anime crowd definitely seem to mingle quite a bit.
In all, I was very excited by the fact that any portion of Anime Expo related to crowdfunding as I didn’t expect it in the least. My personal hope is that even more Artist Alley participants will bring their own crowdfunding projects along for the trip because that’s where my affection really lies. Sure, huge announcements are awesome, but it’s likely via the smaller projects that I tend to fall in love.