The third annual Animation Is Film festival kicked off on Oct. 18 in Los Angeles with the United States premiere of Makoto Shinkai's latest Japan box-office hit, "Weathering With You," followed by an onstage Q&A with Shinkai, who flew in from Tokyo for the event. Demand for tickets was so fierce that organizers added a second overflow screening at the city's historic TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

According to festival founder Eric Beckman, CEO of U.S. distributor GKIDS, tickets to the second screening sold out in "less than three minutes."

Six years after the global anime industry was jolted by the retirement of its most loved and bankable artist, Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki, developments in the North American market are transforming 2019 into a banner year. Through consolidation, the flowering of streaming media platforms and unexpected cash infusions, the anime business on the other side of the Pacific is rising to new levels of maturation and scale.