Wisconsin’s largest Anime and Japanese cultural event, Anime Milwaukee (AMKE), hosted its 12th annual gathering from February 15 to 17 at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee and Wisconsin Center, welcoming more than 10,000 guests from the area, around the country, and overseas.

According to an economic impact study by the Greater Milwaukee area’s convention & visitors bureau, VISIT Milwaukee, AMKE 2019 was expected to reach the $4 million mark of bringing revenue to the city.

Attendees of the three-day tribute to Japanese entertainment traveled from across the Midwest, the United States, and internationally. Anime Milwaukee was founded by the Japanese Animation Association at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2007. It grew exponentially each year until by 2011 it had to move to Milwaukee’s largest convention space.

The 2019 AMKE ushered in a series of new experiences, including recognition as the first convention to share its event coverage over a streaming service. The Japanese visual kei band ACME アクメ also made its first overseas appearance and first concert in America. Artists like P-Shinobi traveled from North Carolina to connect with Milwaukee enthusiasts, sharing his original anime-style brand Boomslank.

Offering 24-hour entertainment for early risers and late sleepers, a perennial favorite was the Cosplay Competition Masquerade and the Charity Ball, that supported the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center.

La Parfait Maid Café, a small business based in Indiana, hosted its authentic Maid and Butler cafe experience, modeled after those in Akihabara, Japan, in the VUE ballroom at the top of the Hyatt.

The Japanese cultural event offered something of interest for all ages, and has become an important multicultural venue for Milwaukee because Anime removes racial and gender barriers for fans of the illustrated stories.

This photo essay highlights some of the sights and participants who celebrated and shared their love for Japanese culture and entertainment at AMKE 2019.