On this past 14th of October, Kadokawa Games announced they were producing an anime based on their smartphone game “STARLY GIRLS”.
Let’s take a look at 2 of this project’s unique points, namely “① Content development” and “② Expansion into China”.
■Content development – from mixed to parallel
The mainstream way of approaching content development these days is to develop a wide variety of media such as movies, novels, games, merchandise, etc. This is the so-called “media mix” method.
It is said that Japan’s first large-scale media mix was 1973’s “Nippon Chinbotsu” (Japan Sinks). Just after being released as a novel, it immediately became a movie, then a radio drama, a TV series, and was successively adapted to a variety of formats. All this created so much synergy that it became a best seller. It is a well-known fact that Kadokawa Shoten has turned out many of its hits by using the same style of development.
Since those days, this method of development has continued to be used on many different works, starting with the “Yo-kai Watch” series, and it makes me think that even nowadays it will continue to be the mainstream way of developing media.
“STARLY GIRLS”, this recent announcement by Kadokawa Games, is a training simulation game centered around a cast of female characters who are personifications of different stars. This game was born out of a capital and business tie-up between Kadokawa Games and the Chinese company Alpha Games. It was developed by Kadokawa Games, then the expansion into the Chinese market was conducted by Alpha Games, and the expansion into all other markets was conducted by Kadokawa Games. They simultaneously produced the “Hoshimusu” anime based on “STARLY GIRLS”, and Alpha Games has arranged to distribute it online in China. (If it becomes successful in China, it might be reimported back into Japan)
The crucial point is that Mr. Yasuda, president of Kadokawa Games, has given Alpha Games permission to freely develop merchandise and other games in China based on the “Hoshimusu” anime. Until now, media mix has been done by a production committee, under the direction of the copyright holders, mainly the original author, and allows copyright holders to keep the copyright revenue.
In contrast to this, the development of “Hoshimusu” will not be interfered with by the copyright holders since it is an original Chinese production, so in a sense it could be called a “parallel development” method.
Of course, this isn’t the first production to use this method of parallel development, but it is rare to see cases like these where companies develop without being bound to their copyright holders, dividing their development into different categories in a parallel way depending on the locality or the type of media, and making it their policy to allow the creation of a large volume of content as a result of this process.
Recently Pikotaro has become popular on YouTube, and due to this there have been a lot of related videos being uploaded which imitate Pikotaro. Lately YouTube’s related videos function has been evolving a lot, so the copyright holder can decide to delete certain related videos, or even to acquire the advertising revenue from those videos. It is said that Pikotaro has made a great profit from the ad revenue derived from these related videos.
In the middle of all this, Nintendo has attempted a unique experiment. If a user makes a Let’s Play video or a video related to one of their own games, they return a 60~70% of ad revenue to the uploader (they need to be registered). By doing this they make the uploaders happy, and help them increase their video productivity even further.
As with the previously mentioned case of Kadokada Games, Nintendo are establishing a win-win situation in relation to the copyright profits by creating policies which aim towards spreading awareness of their content. I think this method of content creation will probably become more popular in the future.
■Market expansion! Expanding into China
I’d like to focus on the topic of “Hoshimusu” from yet another perspective. It’s an anime produced with Chinese capital, but the director and all the staff are Japanese, so it’s actually an entirely Japanese production. It is thought that the manga and anime market in China made one hundred billion yuan in 2014 (approximately 1500 billion yen, according to JETRO), and Alpha Games is planning on growing even further in the coming years. Also, when taking into account that Japanese anime and manga are gaining popularity in China, bringing the Japanese sensibility directly to that market with no change is thought to be a sure way of achieving success.
If this initiative is successful, it might become a model case for future productions of Japanese games and anime developed with Chinese capital, and could suppose an expansion into the Chinese market.
The “STARLY GIRLS” official website
(Article by: Kenichi Nakamura)
Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.