This articles features the exclusive interview between Hexieshe and the Chief Executive / Co-founder of Tokyo Otaku Mode, Tomo Kamei.
★ What inspired you to start Tokyo Otaku Mode? Is there any special meaning to it?
Kamei: I wanted to introduce Japanese culture to the world. Originally, I had thought about sharing traditional Japanese culture. However, Japanese traditional culture hasn’t changed for the past millennium. So, I decided to look for a different way to introduce Japan to the world, and thus chose the otaku culture of Japan.
I enjoy visiting foreign countries, and observing their culture and people. Sometimes when I have traveled, I have dropped by stores to buy goods from the country I was visiting. I was surprised to find out that the prices of items were a tenth of what they are in Japan! I felt those in the production line were not receiving any profit and I came to a starting point when I asked myself what I would do about that. It was then that I came up with the idea for an online business that aims for a profitable and sustainable future.
On my travels, I also learned that Japanese content is very popular among foreigners. However, the content was being shared and translated only by foreigners outside of Japan. Japanese people were not the ones sharing this content with the world. However, since we are familiar with the content, as it is all around us in Japan, I started then asking myself what could we do as Japanese people. I then thought of using Facebook, especially due to its popularity and ease-of-use. From that, Tokyo Otaku Mode was born.
★ What difficulties have you faced as you’ve developed Tokyo Otaku Mode?
Kamei: Tokyo Otaku Mode was actually a form of media, but when we started, no one knew what TOM was. They’d say, “Is it media, a production company, or a store?” The most difficult part in the beginning was enhancing our recognition and helping people gain an understanding of TOM. Just like March of last year, it was a tough period.
★ Why Tokyo Otaku Mode instead of “Anime Mode”?
Kamei: Besides anime, we also focus on manga and games. By focusing on these three areas, were able to give the latest news. We mostly focus on these three categories. In fact, we also have different information to cater to both our female in male fans. For example, we feature both Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon content. In addition to that, there is game content to attract even more fans to TOM.
Before April 2012, TOM was not even a company. It was just a group of friends. So when we attempted to contact production companies, they questioned are intentions. They’d say, “Who are you?” and, “Why do you need this information?” It was a very difficult process, similar to a negotiation or transaction, because they didn’t know who we were. If we used information that wasn’t approved by the corresponding company, it could be regarded as breaking the law. Therefore, in order to avoid these problems, I paid a great amount of attention to copyright law and protecting the provided content.
★ What kind of community would you like Tokyo Otaku Mode to develop into?
Kamei: The world has many different communities and different interests attract different fans. Of course, there are also different languages as well. We’ve developed the TOM community
★ What can we expect in the future?
Kamei: A portal site [now already created] where otaku information on manga, anime, and games is accessible. For example, if you like Naruto, you could search Naturo on the site and retrieve information related to Naruto from the formerly mentioned three categories. Creating a modern Japanese content portal is our future image for Tokyo Otaku Mode. Another point we are focusing on is branding. We want to establish a cool brand image, so when you hear Tokyo Otaku Mode, it is not just a form of media, but something cool. This is also one of our objectives.
★ What do you expect for the future of anime?
Kamei: Currently, we don’t have a clear picture of the future. Business in this era will changes automatically and related commercial businesses convert as societies change. When there are demands, there are changes. At this time, our position as a form of media is to share information with others. In the future, we will probably think of some production or collaborative work beyond the traditional media style, since it may slowly decline. We want to work with changes in society and people’s demands.
Do you know of [the company] Netflix from America? It was an online company that started from scratch, but it is always changing and constantly modifying itself according to the market, society, and people’s demands. Tokyo Otaku Mode needs to be flexible with such changes as well.
★ In the future, can we expect TOM to collaborate with artists? Can we expect a dedicated mobile app?
Kamei: We would be more than pleased to collaborate with artists, but we don’t know what type of collaborations may occur, when they will happen, or who they may happen with just yet. We want others to know we already have a large number of fans, readership, and a social circle so that people will consider working with us. Enhancing our image so that companies and artists will be interested in working with us in the future is another goal we are striving for.
★ In regards to TOM, what do you feel you have accomplished or achieved thus far?
Kamei: Previously, I worked at an advertising company where I didn’t have any contact with consumers. So when I first started using Facebook, I was rather surprised by all the responses I got from my posts. It was a form of direct contact and communication with the consumers while at the same time, being a consumer yourself. I am fascinated with the fact that if you post a New Year’s greeting, for example, it may not be the New Year yet in Brazil because of the time difference. I’m very impressed by the dynamics and power of communicating with Facebook. It’s very exciting.
Also, I was so surprised when I came across someone who knew about Tokyo Otaku Mode at the time we were barely known. It was a great encouragement for me. Only a tiny percent of the six billion people on Earth know of Tokyo Otaku Mode. However, when I go abroad, I still happen to meet people who know about TOM. It inspires me; it’s a huge surprise, a big encouragement, and a driving force to keep me developing Tokyo Otaku Mode.
★ Do you have any future development you would like to share with your fans? Do you have any words for them?
Kamei: Our ultimate goal is to share the Japanese modern culture, as I mentioned earlier. In order to achieve that goal, we will advance in the following areas.
In regards to production, we would like to launch our own products, which are also an important element of branding, and discuss effective ways and plans to reach that goal. The TOM Facebook page is a news site that combines participation with dissemination. By taking advantage of these characteristics, we hope to promote new artists from Japan to fans overseas. There is also the potential opportunity to make an animation or movie that conveys more about TOM’s content and Japanese culture.
Another objective of ours is to create an ideal home for artists where they can proudly share their work to a large audience. In order to increase this audience, we decided to participate in otaku conventions and activities. Not everyone uses the internet, so such PR activities were also very important in order to become known by the public.
★ About Tokyo Otaku Mode
Tokyo Otaku Mode is an interactive media platform that shares Japanese otaku culture through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. TOM was created with the aim to share Japanese otaku culture with the world. TOM shares the latest information and content about otaku handmade goods, anime, manga, cosplay, games, and more, straight from the otaku heart of Japan, Akihabara, where it all began. TOM also has a photo app called Otaku Camera.
Founded in March 2011, Tokyo Otaku Mode began sharing otaku culture to the world via Facebook. In less than a year, Tokyo Otaku Mode grew from being unknown to one of the fastest on-the-rise entertainment media pages on Facebook.
At the time of this writing, Tokyo Otaku Mode was well over eight million fans. In just two months from the time this interview was conducted, TOM’s fan base grew to 10 million fans, and needless to say, started turning some heads. TOM has now become the talk of the town and hottest “must like page” among the otaku community. Is it also the largest Facebook page managed in Japan.
★ Why Tokyo Otaku Mode?
Tokyo Otaku Mode is a great place for like-minded people to meet and look for great content related to their favorite games, anime, or manga. TOM also gives users the ability to look up the latest news on their recently launched news section, which includes 12 categories.
In addition to that, TOM also as a forum for fans to communicate freely with people from all over the world. Users can share news or have a discussion on any topic. The site also has a gallery, where content is posted and shared with the global community. If that wasn’t enough, there is also a weekly TOM newsletter highlighting the content of the week and latest must-know information, such as upcoming events or products. For Twitter fans, there is also an option to keep updated with TOM via Facebook. Are you an Otaku? If so, check out the link below to join the TOM community today!
★★ Bonus Questions
★ Do you intend to add a share function to Otaku Camera?
Kamei: This is already kind of a new tool beyond the one-on-one interface. For example, computers or regular types of mobile phones usually are just a one-on-one interface. But I thought to myself, why don’t we enjoy this kind of novelty among a social circle? Otaku Camera was made with the purpose of sharing the enjoyment of Japanese culture with more people.
★ Live streaming is popular these days, do you intend on making an augmented reality app?
Kamei: TOM’s Facebook page has almost eight millions fans, so if you show a specific title, only a certain group of people will react to it. Our target is to have 100 million fans react.
So we took an approach that would broaden our target audience, that being creating Otaku Camera. Facebook is not in China right? So of our eight million fans, seven million are probably not Chinese. China is huge and those who live there don’t know about TOM yet. If we were able to share Japanese modern culture in China, we could reach this goal and enlarge our target audience. Our goal is to introduce Japan to the entire world.
★ “Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo” will release soon. What is your view on the film?
A broadcast of the movie trailer aired on a high-rise building in Shinjuku. I saw the excitement of the people who were holding high expectations for the movie, anxiously awaiting it even though the trailer was just being shown on a wall.
★ With the popularity of Sword Art Online, can we expect any related mobile app soon?
After the trailer was posted on YouTube, it got the world excited as well. Personally, I am looking forward to it because the movie will have new roles. That may be one of the reasons why fans are reacting to it with such passion.
Kamei: Sword Art Online!? SAO!! Kirito! Asuna! In fact, I am also looking forward to such an app. It would be amazing. SAO is an anime that is well-known by so many people. I expect that users are also looking forward to such an app, so I will pay special attention to it.
★ What is your favorite anime?
Kamei: When I was a child, I loved Dragon Ball, which led me to practice Kamehameha with my brother back then. Now, I really like Uchuu Kyoudai, it may not be suited to younger people, but I like it a lot. I also like Nodame Cantabile, but I feel that Uchuu Kyoudai has a more detailed story, which is what I like about anime.