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Kadokawa believes that the isekai genre will be vital in its international expansion

The gender “Isekai (Another world)”Has been gaining followers all over the world, and the producers of Kadokawa They couldn’t be more pleased. At the seminar of TIFFCOM, “KADOKAWA Anime’s Overseas Business Strategy, Case of ISEKAI. and Future Prospects“, The executive director of Kadokawa, Takeshi kikuchi, and the CEO, Seiji Kiyohara, shared their views on the current state of the company’s anime business strategy and how they intend to expand their properties overseas.

In Japan, Kadokawa follows an easy-to-understand formula for success: By investing in multiple media (called “the media mix”), the company can continually promote original novels and extend the life cycle of an intellectual property. Kadokawa typically begins promoting novels from the source material in Japanese bookstores three months to a year before the animated adaptation comes out. The adaptation then becomes the “nexus” that supports subsequent developments around the franchise, while also introducing fans to the novels.

When there is a considerable “gap” between developments in the animated adaptation department, Kadokawa can maintain the relevance of the franchise by introducing other forms of media. As an example of this, the seminar mentioned the series Re: Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu and how the anime Isekai Quartet it was produced between the first and second seasons.

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The advantage of Kadokawa is that it can take care of everything from planning, promotion, packaging, domestic broadcast, music, overseas licensing, etc. However, Kikuchi noted that the company’s dominance only applies within Japan. Overseas, the media mix strategy doesn’t seem to work as well. This is something the company has been questioning for the past 2-3 years, as it tried to hone its promotion strategies abroad.

Kadokawa has identified “isekai” light novels as a major source of growth over the past decade. The common denominator is their origin as web novels, which are later reissued as books and adapted to animation. Kadokawa identifies Re: Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu, Overlord, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, Youjo senki and Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari as titles “pioneers” in that business strategy.

Kiyohara hopes that these types of light novels, which are also popular abroad, can serve as a springboard for the company’s activities abroad. Kadokawa has been able to do simultaneous global releases of his anime titles, but he also wants to be able to effectively push his novels and other forms of media overseas. When the COVID-19 pandemic ends, Kadokawa intends to aggressively tackle the global market. Kikuchi noted that while Kadokawa’s e-books experienced tremendous growth in Japan during COVID-19, the publisher remains miniscule in the international market, indicating huge untapped potential.

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Kiyohara stressed the importance of working with foreign partners to help promote intellectual property. «We should not be content with selling our content at a high price to licensees“, said. «They have to work closely with marketing as well to ensure that content reaches as many people as possible».

Kikuchi admitted that before he was on the side of “sell the property to the highest bidder“, But now understands the importance of optimizing profits beyond the Minimum Guarantee (MG) and working with partners who can allow it. As an example of a highly successful partnership, they both pointed to the anime Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka? (So I’m a Spider, So What?), which was a co-production with Crunchyroll and became part of the line Crunchyroll Originals. The series was determined to have higher growth potential overseas compared to Japan, and by closely cooperating with Crunchyroll on the marketing side, the anime was able to reach its full potential.

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According to Kiyohara, the commercialization of Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka? (So I’m a Spider, So What?), was successful because Kadokawa was able to satisfy the usual requests from overseas marketing licensees: Permission to release title information at the same time as in Japan, access to a wide range of visual resources and the ability to freely use them, speed of approval, contact with production staff, etc.. Another example of success was that of Sentouin, Hakenshimasu! (Combatants Will Be Dispatched!), in which multiple promotion arms of various companies intervened, such as Funimation, GeeX +, Yen Press and BookWalker Global.

For Kadokawa, facilitating this level of freedom represented a big change in his international collaborations. Thanks to these experiences, Kiyohara said that he learned new marketing strategies and to interact better with foreign audiences. Moving forward, he intends to push this angle even further as the company brings more content to light. Despite changes in Chinese regulations and the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Kiyohara is confident that Kadokawa can maintain its goal of producing 40 new anime in the next fiscal year.

Source: ANN

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