By Benny Carrillo / July 13th, 2016
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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