Interview with Katsuharu Nagata, President of Overlap, on Launching a New Light Novel Label [2/2]

Continuing on our previous installment, we bring you an interview with Katsuharu Nagata, president of Overlap and editor-in-chief of its light novel label, Overlap Bunko.

TOM: You’ve made publishing and visual work the cornerstone of your company’s vision. Could you share your reasons for choosing these?
Nagata: We went with those two upon thinking about the balance of costs of production and the product quantity. You can create novels through the combined efforts of the writer and the publisher, and one label can go from releasing dozens of titles in a year to hundreds. On the other hand, with visual work, even if you have a large number of people working on a production, the most a company could do in a year is about two to three titles. By choosing novels from the field of publishing that are geared toward visuals and adapting them into a visual medium, you can get a bigger response. That response will elevate the brand and bring about an environment where even better titles can be created. We’ve made publishing and graphics the center of our operations with the goal of creating this positive cycle.

TOM: It’s interesting that you put this plan to actively incorporate a mixing of media at the forefront of your business strategy from the beginning.
Nagata: Yes. We started the company not with the intention of being a publishing company or a graphics company, but rather with the intention of publishing our own content in a variety of forms, such as novels or anime and comics, and to always actively expand our content possibilities, so having a mixed media business strategy has been extremely important.

TOM: Since starting Overlap Bunko, you’ve already released several light novels. Do you have a strategy in place to some extent to expand into other types of media for all of your titles?
Nagata: We have different goals for each title, and I think the ideal would be to be able to take on a new challenge with each one. I think we have cases where we look at all the steps at the start in terms of anime adaptations and such, and there are times where we release the book and watch the responses to figure out the timing of adapting to other media. So we don’t necessarily publish everything after having decided how we’re going to expand it.

TOM: I took a look at the writers of the light novels that are currently out from Overlap Bunko and there are some who have worked in other industries, such as the game industry and the anime industry. Was this because you are looking beyond light novels to other types of media?
Nagata: That wasn’t due to the media mixing so much as it was due to the fact that I wanted to remove industry barriers and create more and more interesting content. We had this expectation that if we gather the minds of not just writers but people from a variety of industries, we’ll have a chemical reaction of sorts, and so we’ve actively reached out to people from industries outside of publishing. Through this, I’d like Overlap Bunko to emit more than anyone else a kind of talent that only we could be known to unearth. As a company, Overlap will continue to put a lot of effort into being a place that both the creators and the users of our content believe is doing the most interesting things at the moment.

TOM: When you say users, are you also referring to users in other countries?
Nagata: Certainly in the future, as we expand our content, they will become a target as well, I think. However, since we just started Overlap Bunko, we haven’t yet reached the point where we can expand to other countries right now.

TOM: When it comes to consumers abroad, I’ve felt that while anime has a very strong influence at the moment, light novels have not yet been noticed. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Nagata: There’s a trend not just in our company, but in the industry as a whole where light novels are licensed out mostly to Asian countries, and there are almost no licensing contracts with countries in North America and Europe. Which means, in other words, the demand hasn’t been that high. On the other hand, I know that anime has gained an audience all over the world, including in North America and Europe. In light of that, it may be possible to have it so that after a series becomes popular as an anime, the light novel the anime is based on could be translated and more readers could enjoy it. Lately, I’ve been getting a sense of the popularity of light novels in Asia daily by the growth of the market and by the amount of questions we have been getting from customers.

TOM: Occultic;Nine, the first novel from the creator of the globally popular Steins;Gate, Chiyomaru Shikura, seems to have demand in regions outside of Asia as well.
Nagata: Occultic;Nine was originally released as a light novel, but I think we were able to create fans of the work around the world when we showed that we would expand into anime and game adaptations. Therefore, we want to take on various approaches to creating titles that will be loved by people all over the world, including Chiyomaru’s Occultic;Nine.

TOM: Would you like to give a final message to readers overseas?
Nagata: Though the Overlap Bunko label has only just been created, Overlap will continue to create enticing content that isn’t exclusive to one type of media. I hope you look forward to all of the various kinds of content we will be releasing in different media from here on out. Our first step will be Infinite Stratos, and we have many more titles planned as well. We really appreciate your support.

Overlap Inc. Offical Site (Japanese)

Occultic;Nine Official Site (Japanese)

This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.

Interview with Katsuharu Nagata, President of Overlap, on Launching a New Light Novel Label [2/2] 1
Interview with Katsuharu Nagata, President of Overlap, on Launching a New Light Novel Label [2/2] 2

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