Last year Los Angeles’ Anime Expo was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the organizers shifting focus to a 2021 event. The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation’s Ray Chiang has now announced that the event will not go ahead in LA this year either, with the organization planning another “Anime Expo Lite” online event instead, as reported by Anime News Network.
“With the continued uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it is apparent that we will not be able to safely hold a physical show this July for Anime Expo 2021,” the statement by Chiang reads. “Anime Expo Lite will return on July 4th weekend! While we know that nothing can ever fully replicate the magic of in-person events, we recognize that online communities have long been an integral part of Anime Expo’s culture. Anime Expo has been streamed since 2017 and will continue to be part of the experience.”
2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the USA’s largest anime convention, and while there won’t be a physical event to mark the occasion, the SPJA has invited Anime Expo’s fans and past attendees to continue to use the hashtag #AnimeExpo30th to celebrate their memories of the convention throughout the year.
The SPJA hosted an Anime Expo Lite event online last year with over 50 hours of content including panels, interviews, and new announcements from game and anime-related companies including Square Enix, Crunchyroll, Viz Media, and more. The event saw over 500,000 views from virtual attendees spread across more than 70 countries.