AX: Where We’ve Come and Where We’ll Go – MangaGamer Panel Pt. 2

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

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MangaGamer | Header

MangaGamer brought three guests to its industry panel at Anime Expo, and there was quite a lot they had to talk to us about.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed as part of this panel recap are those of the writer and do not reflect those of oprainfall as a whole.

During MangaGamer’s Annual Anime Expo panel, we were fortunate enough to have MangaGamer’s three Guests of Honor attend the panel and speak a little bit. These three people were Shigeo Hamashima, the Concept Artist and Graphic Designer for such games as No, Thank You!!!, EROGE! Sex and Games Make Sexy Games, and the recently announced Maggot baits. Nobukazu “nbkz” Sakai, the President and Artistic Director at minori. And Bamboo, Founder of OVERDRIVE and MangaGamer’s President. As I mentioned before in the article about MangaGamer’s announcements, the title of this panel was “The Now & Future of Visual Novels.” Bamboo started us off by delving into that, but first he wanted to show us just how far MangaGamer had come in its 9 years.

Bamboo – Expanding in the West

MangaGamer | Bamboo

MangaGamer’s President, or if you’d like the official Japanese title 代表取締役 (Daihyoutorishimariyaku)

MangaGamer was founded on July 10, 2008. Since then the company has put out over 180 titles and localized 80. Currently they have more than 15 translations running and more than 60 staff and freelancers working on these various projects. They also have more than 30 Japanese partners as well as more than 10 English Visual Novel studios they work with. That’s quite a long way to come when you consider the originally only had five to start with. Bamboo also thanked all the translators who helped to make this possible over the years. Next, we turned to something I found quite fascinating, which was the state of the Eroge market in Japan.

MangaGamer | Cho Dengeki Stryker

Cho Dengeki Stryker is one of the games Bamboo worked on.

According to Bamboo, the Japanese Eroge market hasn’t been doing all that well. More and more the focus is starting to become how to expand abroad. He pointed to the fact that both Front Wing and Visual Arts were looking at the foreign market. I can attest to this, as both Front Wing and Key had booths at Anime Expo that were across from each other no less. Bamboo noted that when MangaGamer formed, it was hard to convince Japan that there were Visual Novel fans outside of Japan. In the past nine years, thankfully, this thinking has undergone a 180-degree shift. Now they are seriously looking to market outside of Japan. He credited this shift to the fans and their support, thanking them before moving on to wrap up his talk.

He closed his section of the panel by telling the fans that MangaGamer is part platform, part localization house, and part community, and urging them to keep giving more suggestions on what they want to see. Next, after going over recent releases and physical copies, which were covered in the announcement article, we had Nobukazu Sakai speak about Supipara.

Nobukazu Sakai – Supipara and Paying it Forward

MangaGamer | Nobukazu Sakai

Known online as “nbkz”, Nobukazu Sakai is not only minori’s President, but does a little bit of everything at the company.

Sakai-Sensei started out by detailing his job at minori. In particular, that he does just about everything for the company, from accounting to quality assurance. He was very surprised at the amount of people who came to see the MangaGamer panel. He reiterated what Bamboo said regarding the Japanese Eroge market shrinking. While currently the focus is in Japan, with the enthusiasm he saw in the audience he pointed out that the foreign market may soon overtake Japan. He pointed out that minori had worked with MangaGamer in the past when they released eden* PLUS+MOSAIC last year. With that lead in, it was time to talk about minori’s current project, Supipara – Alice the Magical Conductor.

MangaGamer | Supipara

While the first two chapters of Supipara were released in Japan, the remaining three never saw the light of day. Now the West has a chance to change that

Supipara is a game that’s divided into five chapters, with each chapter focusing on a different heroine. In Japan, the first two chapters were released. However, they sadly did not sell well in Japan. Since then, as many of you know, MangaGamer partnered with minori to attempt to raise the funds needed to localize the first two chapters, and complete the game. Sakai-Sensei announced that story for parts 3-5 were already laid out, meaning at this point all they are waiting to see are the sales for parts one and two.

MangaGamer | Supipara 2

Whether or not we’ll see the remaining chapters of Supipara depends on sales, but if we do, we will get them before Japan.

Sakai-Sensei stated that if the sales for parts one and two are enough in Europe and the US to fund development of the remaining portions of the game, those would be released in the West before Japan. The reason for this is because we would then be considered the larger market and Sakai-Sensei would want to reward that faith by paying it forward. He also promised that they would start to think of different titles and genres to sell in the West. He concluded by promising to work closely with Bamboo and MangaGamer, before inviting everyone to his panel on July 4th and telling them to ask him any questions if they saw him at their booth. With Sakai-Sensei’s talk concluded, we moved onto new announcements before a few short words from Hamashima-Sensei.

Hamashima-Sensei, and my thoughts on the panel as a whole on page 2

About Benny Carrillo

A gamer since the days of the NES, this professional otaku adores Mega Man, Super Robot Wars, Yuri, Visual Novels, the Slice of Life anime genre, and of course Hyperdimension Neptunia. His mission on oprainfall is to help deliver the news straight to you.


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  • Nin

    The VN market suffering in Japan is something I’ve heard rumors about, but it’s nice to see it directly confirmed.

    The market in the West has grown a lot the past few years, even for the little while I’ve been a part of it (4 years IIRC). There will be a few growing cramps as Japanese companies learn how to directly interact with the Western VN market, but it’s a great time to play visual novels.

  • DizzyGear

    You just had to remind me of the Eden* PLUS+MOSAIC expansion. Seriously who thought that was a good idea? They could have used the expansion to expand the story little. Like seeing the story from another character’s perspective after a certain event but nooo instead we got some goddamn useless porn scenes.
    ‘Man I’m the mood for a fap’ said no one ever after finishing Eden*.
    /salt

    Do you think the over saturation of Eroge has to do with the decline as well? Having seen some CG rips I can tell allot of them have some pretty horrible art and probably equally horrible writing. From what I heard most of them are not exactly cheap either in Japan.

  • Panpopo

    Nice write-up! Sounds like a good time there.

    One of the biggest opportunities for growth in the West, imo, is the Otome market. Out of all the genres, it seems that it is the one that is neglected the most. As I understand it, Ozmafia (MangaGamer’s first Otome game) was a success. We will probably see more of those titles come west (Akys is already jumping on that with their recent announcements).

    • DizzyGear

      I’d argue the Yuri genre is more neglected.
      At least the Otome genre has some games on Vita (and PSP) while I doubt we will ever see that Vita version of Flowers localized.

      The complete radio silence from manga gamer regarding the rest of the Sonohana titles is making me worry as well.

    • Panpopo

      Oh there needs to be more yuri too. Kindred Spirits on the Roof seemed to do pretty well, so I don’t think that is a genre going away. MangaGamer (and their employees) seem to be pretty open about answering questions, so maybe ask them about Sonohana titles to see if there is a response.

    • Nin

      Considering how well Kindred Spirits did, I doubt Mangagamer is actively trying to avoid the yuri genre. Maybe Otakon will bring good news. One month will be a long wait …