On Aug. 30, a small contingent of Japanese animation producers, animators, licensors and voice actors descended on San Jose, California, to attend the weekend's Crunchyroll Expo, a convention run by anime streaming service Crunchyroll that's now in its third year.

American anime conventions took root in the 1990s, growing from small gatherings to major events, the largest of which now attract tens of thousands of visitors. They take place in local convention centers and airport hotels across the country, and allow fans to come together and cosplay, game, dance, meet their favorite anime creators and otherwise bask in a heightened state of Japanese pop culture bliss.

These conventions have traditionally been organized on the grassroots level by fans. But for Crunchyroll, which was rolled into AT&T's WarnerMedia conglomerate this year, it made sense to get in on the convention game. The company keeps a close eye on the online movements of its 50 million registered users — but for instant feedback, there's nothing quite like assembling a few thousand fans in the same place at the same time.