KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Anime fans are heading to downtown Kansas City for the first ever Planet Anime this weekend. The event began Friday and will go through Sunday.

The expo celebrates the artform that’s expanded into comics, video games and movies.

Sometimes it’s popped up into the cultural mainstream with products like Pokémon, but some say it also got a lot more popular when everyone was locked inside during COVID.

“I think COVID had a very big part to do with it,” said Raven Vorhees of Jay’s CD and Hobby. “Everyone was reading manga online. Everyone was staying inside and watching anime and demon slayer.”

Organizers decided to dedicate a whole weekend to anime after seeing how popular that genre is during Comicon Kansas City every year. It honors the historic, hand-drawn, artform that’s been modernized with computer generated comics and games.

“Anime is deeply rooted in comics in the arts and dates all the way back to the early 1900’s from japan,” event organizer Chris Phelan said ,”one of the biggest cultural exports that japan has created and it’s a global phenomenon.”

Logan Jensen and his game development group are based in Overland Park and have been creating an anime street fighting game for mobile devices.

“We designed this for phones to feel good with a touch screen which was really hard to do,” Jensen said.

Organizers say you can find all different parts of the anime culture around the convention center this weekend. They also have famous voice actors and cosplayers in town.

“The artform of anime is hand drawn, and then computer graphics that combine to create a vibrant energy, lots of beautiful colors and the stories are full of fantasy,” Phelan said.

Purchase tickets at the Planet Anime Kansas City website. It will end at 7 p.m. on Saturday and go from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.