Interviewer: Miho Nakano (AnyDoor Inc.)
Photographer: Takuya Hashimoto (see above)
[What Kind of Service is Anipipo?]
[Official Site] Anipipo
Nakano: What kind of service is Anipipo, which is managed by Goopa Inc.?
Taira: It's a crowd-funding service (meaning a platform for collecting money online) that specializes in the animation field.
Nakano: Do you mean that Anipipo recruits investors?
Taira: That's right. We act as a "hub" for connecting creators with fans.
Speaking of which, although crowd-funding tends to be thought of most often as something for raising money, we think 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, from there we can approach a variety of different media.
Nakano: So you mean you can connect more than just creators with fans (investors) but also can call the press to media?
Taira: That's exactly right. For drafting a project we prepare statements and release them to the press but basically we're able to approach the foreign media ourselves.
Nakano: Are there many people from overseas among your creators/investors?
Taira: 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 8 countries right now: Japan, Thailand, Singapore, France, America, as well as Brazil.
As far as access goes, there are also some from Arabic countries. We're on the site animearab.com but I 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.
Nakano: When I hear "anime" I get the image of a big company that employs a lot of creators making it. Have you discovered something new to closing the gap between the creators and their fans?
Taira: Up 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 actually 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 succesfully-selling manga into an anime.
Nakano: So it was like you had to be conservative? Taira: Exactly. As such, there's no way we can make 5 or 10-minute interesting, avant-garde animations. I think as smart phones and tablets grow, the need for short content will rise higher than now but with our current structure we can't get the money for it. Even if it gets ask, "Could we get all the money we need? What about KPI?" how should I answer with something that's 5 or 10 minutes...? And if you were to make that into a DVD then people would say, "I'm not buying something that's 5 minutes long." So we'd like to make it so that in making an original anime, you put your foot in the door with something 5 or 10 minutes long and then we're the first recipients as a communication tool for you to move on to the next step.
Nakano: Although production software is getting cheaper and there are many people who are trying to go "pro," I assume it must still be quite a difficult industry?
Taira: That's right, 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 difficult. 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?]
Nakano: Is there a "hot" country these days? Taira: Well, we're fairly hot in the Middle East! But it's hard with religious problems and showing Japanese anime as it is now.
There are manga that Arabs create and Japanese draw and they're amazingly popular! There are Arabs who are rich but have no place to use it. They can't drink alcohol because of religious reasons and women's make-up is only for around the eyes and so they use their money for entertainment. They have places like manga cafes and people who like animation readily invest in them... On the other hand, Japanese have a lot of stereotypes toward them like they only believe in Islam or it's a dangerous country but they're trail-blazing the market. Their country is a well-kept secret.
Nakano: Then you'll use Conyac for this...?
Taira: Arabic might become our main language (laughs)
[How Anipipo Uses Conyac]
Nakano: How are you using Conyac? Is there something you like a lot about it?
Taira: Basically 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.
Nakano: Is it mainly English for you?
Taira: Yeah, definitely 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 really like that we get two translations per request.
Nakano: Thank you! We've heard some say it's hard to know which to use between the two translations but I'm happy that you see it as an advantage.
Taira: 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.
Nakano: I see! So you use it to save time rather than because you're bad at English and need a translation.
Taira: But there have been times when neither of the two were good. That gave me some trouble...
Nakano: I see, so the "first-come, first-served" system can be hit-or-miss at times.
Taira: But only occasionally!
Nakano: Thank you (laughs) To maintain the high quality of translations even we are trying to come up with ratings for our translators, further expand their profiles and we were thinking of having you make the evaluation criteria for when there's a request made.
I'm sure there are still many inconveniences but when we identify problems we work hard everyday to improve them.
Taira: I really love the Conyac service itself so I look forward to future quality control measures!
Conversely, what do you think about us requesters being able to add tags? Like mark them as "for a blog post" or "for a release" or "for daily email..."
Nakano: Currently we have a section for notes on the request page for you to write freely but would it be easier to understand by choosing from option buttons?
Taira: Well, I think it would be good even from the translator's side to present information as a self-assessment like "I'm good at blog posts!" or "I'm good at concise statements for releases" and for then the requesters to review them and know "this is perfect!" or "no, no, this isn't for me." Then the translators could raise their status in each field and the translators' skills would be accurately reflected. I think it'd be good to see that and then request for them directly.
Nakano: What a great idea to combine a self-assessment with the assessment from others! I'll pass that on to development right away!
[I'd Recommend Conyac to These People]
Nakano: Is there anyone you would like to recommend Conyac to?
Taira: 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?
Nakano: Of course, this depends on the creator but they're good at everything whereas with language.... I'm not good at English either so I can't judge anyone (laughs)
Taira: That's right, they're 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 really recommend Conyac to those in development after that, especially when translating to English, making pamphlets, or when they're showing a scene that really needs a translation.
Nakano: Thank you! I really hope you would recommend us!
Taira: Currently we've been getting questions from fans overseas from the moment we draft a project.
Nakano: That soon?!
Taira: Yeah! We do--a lot! So my drafters ask, "What should we do?" and the first thing I do is recommend Conyac to them. Many different people use it and I myself think it's very easy to use so why not all of us work hard together?
[Ending the Interview]
Mr. Taira, a representative of Goopa Inc., is an acquaintance with Yamada, a representative from our company. He has been using Conyac for many years after thinking to himself, "I want to use a service that's face-to-face." He has watched us grow from the start of this service and given us his lovingly candid advice on how to evaluate translators and how to manage it.
Mr. Taira is a person with a playful, service-oriented spirit. He gave me an Anipipo sticker as a souvenir and boasted, "A plosive is easily left in people's minds! In Anipipo, there are two!" (laughs) I immediately stuck it to my laptop.
Thank you so much for all your stories on the anime industry and your passion-filled tales of love for Conyac even in this dreadful rain.
Born in 1985
Graduated from Tokyo Polytechnic University in Art
Joined Amana Holdings in 2009
Established his company as the representative company president in 2011
"Always Have Fun in Life."
Always enjoy your life. And always seek pleasure.
With these beliefs and attitude he continues to make services.