Hiroaki Taira of Goopa, Inc. shares how his team uses Conyac to rapidly localize Anipipo, a crowdfunding service for the animation field.
Mr. Hiroaki Taira is the CEO of Goopa, Inc., which manages Anipipo, a crowdsourcing service for the animation industry. Born in 1985, Mr. Taira graduated from Tokyo Polytechnic University, majoring in art and joined Amana Holdings in 2009. He then left and established his own company in 2011. His motto, "Always have fun in life," inspires his approach to business.
Having been a user of our crowdsourcing service, Conyac, for several years, and having watched it grow, he decided he’d like to meet the people behind it and kindly visited our office to meet face-to-face.
What Kind of Service is Anipipo?
It's an online crowdfunding service that specializes in the animation field. It is a platform for collecting money from fans for new animation projects. We act as a "hub" for connecting creators with fans.
Although crowd-funding tends to be thought of most often as something for raising money, we believe it's important to express from the very start of a project that by connecting creators with fans it is not just financial but that it also shares what creators are thinking of doing.
Furthermore, we can connect more than just creators with fans/investors but also help get them media attention. Domestically, we prepare and issue press releases. For international promotion, we approach the foreign media ourselves.
Are there many people from overseas among your creators/investors?
Currently, Anipipo is based in Japan and Bangkok, so we get all our creators from those two countries. However, we have many supporters participating from eight countries right now: Japan, Thailand, Singapore, France, America, as well as Brazil.
We also have site visitors from Arabic countries. We're on the site AnimeArab but have no idea what's written there other than "Anipipo" (laughs). We're also on many other sites, and presently we have people participating who want to support Japanese animation.
How do you bridge the gap between the creators and their fans?
Until now it's felt like all at once we raised the money, produced, released, and then finally could get a response. In short, at the production level, we didn't know if it would sell or not. Movies especially cost hundreds of millions of yen (millions of US dollars) and even making one story in just a 30-minute anime would cost about 15 or 18 million yen ($150-180,000). It was extremely risky to start without knowing how it would sell. So the trend nowadays is to make a successfully-selling manga into an anime.
We had to be conservative. For example, it’s currently not feasible to sell five or ten-minute animations, even if they are exciting and avant-garde. I think that, as smartphone and tablet penetration grows, the need for short-form content will rise, but with our current structure, we can't sell it. Many customers are still in the mindset of buying DVDs, and they certainly don’t want to go to all that trouble for content that is only five minutes long.
So our approach with creators of original anime is to advise them to put their foot in the door with short-form, and that can open up to the next steps.
Is animation a difficult industry?
Yes. We're in a state where, in a 20 or 30-year time period, creators live on a monthly income of tens of thousands of yen (hundreds of dollars) and then finally maybe one or two people can become directors. Moreover, whether or not they can sell after that is another story entirely. We only notice the success stories, but it's still tough. Above anything else, even if you had the money, skills, and you made an anime, it was a problem if you didn't know to whom and to where to bring it from there. I think it's important to connect to the places out on the internet now.
From the animation industry's perspective, what country is "hot" now?
We're gaining in popularity in the Middle East, but it's difficult to navigate at times because some types of Japanese animations are deemed offensive by local cultural standards.
There are manga that Arabs create and Japanese draw, and they're amazingly popular! There are Arabs who are rich but have nowhere to spend their money. For example, due to the local culture, most people don’t drink alcohol, and women's make-up is only used around the eyes. So, they use their money for entertainment. They have places like manga cafes and people who like animation readily invest in them.
Most Japanese know little about Arab countries, but they're trail-blazers when it comes to anime. So, we’ll use Conyac for Arabic and perhaps it might become your main language!
How have you been using Conyac?
We prepare the wording in Japanese and English and have the project drafters create the sentences in Japanese, and then after that, we use Conyac. Also, we use it a lot for website localization or during press releases.
It is mainly English. The good thing about Conyac is its speed. It seems insignificant but getting translations in 30 minutes to an hour has been a life-saver. Also, I like that we get two translations per request.
I lived in Silicon Valley during elementary, middle, and high school, so I don't have a particular problem with English. However, it would take a lot of time to translate each project page entirely by myself, so I use Conyac as a time-saver. From there I can take what I like from the two translations I get and finalize the sentences.
I love the Conyac service and look forward to watching it evolve further.
Who would you recommend Conyac to?
Sometimes we show a finished animation in a film festival while the project is going on, but then we have the problem of what to do about the English subtitles. We ask the project drafters for subtitles but this is a bit expensive, and there might be no space after a comma or a small mistake... And if you then think of showing Japanese animation overseas then aren't these important?
The creators are pros at art. We also thought along those lines, and with promotions or when you can't collect money, we show fans the creative parts well and connect the fans. I would recommend Conyac to those in development after that, especially when translating to English, making pamphlets, or when they're showing a scene that needs a translation.
Currently, we've been getting questions from fans overseas from the moment we draft a project. We do--a lot. My drafters ask, "What should we do?" and the first thing I do is recommend Conyac to them. Many different people use it, and it's super easy to use, so why don’t we all work hard together?
The Xtra, Inc. blog brings you inspiration and tips on how to achieve more while reducing costs and growing profits. Be the first to get our latest content by subscribing to our newsletter (scroll down to sign up). Or, if you're listening to this article off-site, visit xtra.global (that's "xtra-dot-global") to join.
Interviewer: Miho Nakano (anydooR, Inc.)
Photographer: Takuya Hashimoto