by Bruce Rutledge
The third annual Japanese Anime and Manga Arts Festival at Everett Community College drew crowds of enthusiasts and curious shoppers to the campus on May 19-20. The festival, known by its acronym JAMAF, is quickly becoming a mainstay event in Everett, growing substantially in each of its three years.
The event featured panels by expert manga artists and designers, a screening of Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, a tea ceremony, a cosplay contest, taiko performances and many other cultural panels for a healthy mix of traditional and modern Japan. A marketplace featured the works of artists and illustrators inspired in one way or another by the Japanese art scene.
Heather Jean Uhl, a librarian at the college and an adviser to its Japanese club, is one of the main forces behind the event. She kicked off the Friday panels with a lecture on folklore in the anime classic Spirited Away. Kenneth and Kumiko Lawrence of Soju Projekt Seattle spoke about traditional Asian music and theater in anime. And Lynn Miyauchi of the Japanese consulate showed everyone how samurai used to put on all that armor.
The convention drew mostly students in cosplay, but a few curious locals also stopped by. Each year, the event seems to draw more people and cover more of the campus, starting at the Jackson Center, but this year expanding into the Gray Wolf Hall. It just goes to show how much interest there is in Japan among young Americans and how Japanese culture and storytelling have engaged these Americans in ways that Western pop culture hasn’t been able to.