Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Straight from Akihabara it's Akiba-Anime Art Magazine!

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be talking to the team at JH Lab about their first Kickstarter: Akiba Anime Art Magazine Vol. 00.  Thank you for joining us today.

Hello everyone! We are a team “JH lab” from Akihabara, Japan, the only professional Otaku Researching group in the world.

Let me start off by congratulating you on a great opening to your project!  You quickly reached your goal and are approaching 10 times your original goal with around a month left.  Can you tell us about your project and why you think it has done so well?  

Before we launched our project we did a lot of research into Akihabara (Akiba) pop culture on tons of blogs, magazines, and SNS.  We understood that what many people thought of as Anime, Manga, and Otaku things in the world outside of Japan weren’t authentic but were merely imitations of what we had.  So we decided to try and introduce the real Akiba culture to the world!  This includes all of the so-called “Otaku” stuff such as Japanimation, Manga, “Moe,” robots, and other high tech electrical appliances that don’t show up much outside Japan.

We called this first order of the project our “Akiba Project” and the first challenge of that project was to share the art aspect of Akiba culture. As we are the first professional Otaku researching group in the world our main tasks are researching on Otaku and implementing the Akiba Project.  We decided the best way to do this was to develop the idea of a AAA magazine (our second order project).  

Kickstarter is a great platform to discover the consumers needs directly before the official start of publishing a AAA magazine series.  So we created the vol. 00 project on Kickstarter to judge the consumer interest.  Based on our previous research on the scarcity of real Akiba art publications we expected to reach our base goal of $4500, but approaching nearly ten times that amount has far outstripped our expectations!

The art on your campaign page is just gorgeous.  How’d you get such talented artists onboard for this project?  

Some of our fellow researchers are artists themselves, as well as their friends so we have lots of resources of artists and art. Even big name artists will join us starting with the vol.01 issue!!

What artists can we expect to see in the final release?  

John Hathway (John Hathway has been featured in TOKYO OTAKU MODE!), RCO WADA, FUJICHOKO, MATAYOSHI, YUKO TSUKISHIMA, HASHIMOTO SHIN, HIME+YOU, KEI (famous for Original illustration of Miku Hatsune), Julie Watai and other artists (Depending on stretch goals)

Being a Japanese company how hard is it to create an English language magazine?  Why go for an English market?  

There are crowdfunding sites also in Japan. However the goal of our professional group is to spread the real Akiba culture to the world, so we should go global!!!!

Your $35,000 stretch goal lists a special textbook, will this be a separate companion book or inline with the Kickstarter exclusive magazines?  

It will be a separate one, and this textbook is Kickstarer exclusive reward. Welcome to the world of Nippongo!

Why is their a warning label on your campaign?

Even nowadays when Anime and Manga things became major popular culture, we think a large number of Not-Otaku-people regard Anime art as something like porn stuff, at least in Japan. We believe Akiba culture should be put as universal concept and design, without notions of religions, human races, nor specific languages.

Did you get a lot of questions about this at launch or did Kickstarter ask you to put this in before launch?  How annoying is it that you needed this kind of label for your project?  

Yes we did, but because it was a requirement for launching the project on Kickstarter, which makes the crowdfunding platform safe, it is acceptable.

What kind of fun stories of Akihabara life can we expect to read in this issue?  What other articles can we expect beyond the illustrations?  

It will be a variety of Otaku life styles. Needless to say, there are many portraits of cosplayers, news articles about Akiba trend, introduction of art-working progress from begin to end by starring artists, short-novels, and how to make “Chara-ben” etc., Moreover, a special "Akiba Paranoia" page has some exciting content: The concept of "Akiba Paranoia" is more Classic-Manga-art rather than modern-Anime-art, focusing on illustrations involving AAA magazines’ Otaku readers and interactive contents. The special page will add tastes of Akiba “sub-” culture.

Since this is Volume 00 does that mean Volume 1 and beyond are already in the planning stages?  Will there be subscriptions available or are you working on this one magazine at a time?  

Since the vol.00 is Kickstarted successfully, vol.01 and beyond volume are already planned and will be published! The AAA magazine will be a quarterly. We also have a plan to translate to other languages, though it depends on distributors in each country. Now, we are looking for publishers to be our official agent especially in the US, the UK, Canada, Latin America, and EU countries.

As someone who watches a lot of Kickstarter projects one of my biggest concerns are projects that do extremely well.  By hitting multiple stretch goals quickly it often spins out of the creator’s control.  One thing I like to see to alleviate these concerns are budget breakdowns to see how well planned out a project is.  Why doesn’t your campaign have a budget breakdown?  How much has the speed in which you’ve hit your goals affected your budget planning?  

Actually we have lots of exciting stretch goal ideas along with budget breakdown in each stage (total pledge amount). Though the most fluctuated factor is absolutely printing cost, the total pledge amount is including many of add-on items. So, at regular intervals, we check the total number of magazines and 3-D books (thus, “add-on effect” is excluded) and dynamically adjusting upcoming stretch goal rewards which is associated with total pledge amount.

How did you discover Kickstarter?

Some of our fellows have been backers of Kickstarter since a few years ago. Through market analyzing, we thought KS was the best platform for the AAA magazine project at the present.

A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

We think stretch goal and its exclusivity is one of keys to success on KS (needless to say, beautiful design of the main page and detailed setting of pledge level are basic requirements). However, to reaching stretch goal require actual number of backers and total pledge amount. Therefore, it can be forecasted that early-bird pledge level does work well in this mechanism at “recently launched” period. The early-bird backers will be an initial influencer.

Then, after passing start-up period, frequent contact with a real backer and potential backers through BBS, press release, and other SNS. But, we also haven’t found exactly the best way to let potential backers to know of the project. We hope this interview becomes a chance to let more people know of our cool project!

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

We are trying to spread out the project through fans of Artists, using SNS such as FB and Twitter,  the Japanese medias is also interested in our project; but we haven’t succeeded very much to reach media in the US and other countries.

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

1. Have a good project of course.
2. Beautiful editorial design of the main page.  
3. Detailed classification of pledge levels (but not too complicated!)
4. Contents of video must explain the project well and fit the taste of the project (Cool? Elegance? Scary? Funny? )  
5. Early-bird level
6. Unique stretch goals to reward your amazing backers!

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Thank you for the interview, we are looking forward to realizing our amazing magazine! We believe the AAA magazine series will be a coolest representative of Akiba, Otaku and Anime- culture in the world. So the vol.00 is very limited premium edition. Don’t miss it!

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

Best regards!

JH lab : The professional Otaku researching group

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