A New Era in the World of Anime: Two Anime Fanatics Send a Message with the CHIKA*CHIKA IDOL Project

A New Era in the World of Anime: Two Anime Fanatics Send a Message with the CHIKA*CHIKA IDOL Project

CHIKA*CHIKA IDOL is an original 3DCG animation project which will begin a crowdfunding campaign via U.S. company Kickstarter and Makuake in Japan from February 2016. The project will use the same “cel look” 3DCG animation as the popular TV anime Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova and will focus on the everyday life of the “underground Idols” 1. CHIKA*CHIKA IDOL is not a normal project produced by an existing anime studio or production house; it is produced by the creators themselves and is appealing for investment through crowdfunding.

Yasutake Honjo, the project’s producer and managing director of the animation studio set up for this production, Symphonium, and its director Hiroshi Nishikiori who has handled so many popular franchises including A Certain Magical Index and Azumanga Daioh, talked to us about their feelings towards the project.

The Best Way of Delivering Movies to Anime Fans Throughout the World

— Could you give us an outline of the project?

Nishikiori (N): The CHIKA*CHIKA IDOL project will look for investment through crowdfunding to develop a 3DCG anime which will be produced in Japanese and English simultaneously. Those are the three biggest features to begin with. We’re also developing a 4-minute PV for the crowdfunding campaign. You can see it’s still in production from the hand-drawn original artwork and it’s hard to get an idea of the finished CG animation, so it’s not very convincing. That’s why we’re working so hard on being able to show you the finished PV. As we’re still in production and we can’t let you see the full video, we’re quite anxious about getting it done (laughs).

While he grumbles that the production process is difficult, Nishikiori smiles as he says, “We want to deliver something that people throughout the world can all enjoy at the same time.”

Honjo (H): CHIKA*CHIKA IDOL is a model that the director and I came up with together. I put together the original idea and the business plan and the director handled the design of the anime.

— Could you talk a little about deciding to set up a new company and your aim for finding investment through crowdfunding in both the Japanese- and English-speaking world?

H: This is the age of the internet. We were afraid that the time difference in the development of the project itself would remarkably decrease the audience’s satisfaction level. I think our viewers really want to be able to get excited and enjoy the show throughout the world at the same time without having to wait for a translation. Precisely because of that I think not just Japanese and English but developing in many languages at the same time will become the standard way of producing anime.

— Developing for the whole world at the same time makes sense.

H: Yes, anime is already familiar to people throughout the world. Even the anime that’s broadcast in the middle of the night in Japan can be enjoyed on English-language streaming sites not long after with English subtitles. How can you produce anime without harnessing the promotional power it has throughout the world? I want improve the reception of creators in the widening international marketplace, and in the future I want to be able to rival Hollywood and Disney by challenging ourselves to make movies with luxurious budgets.

With a piercing look, Honjo talks passionately about Japanese anime.

N: Until recently, anime has been something which has attained a certain level of appreciation in Japan only, but there has also been a trend of developing it overseas. Now, however, there are so many avenues for distribution online, if we can consider doing it that way we can deliver a lot more movies throughout the world. In spite of that, the organisations which can distribute the movies still aren’t set up yet. People often talk about this within the industry, but it’s still the case that we can’t embark on a scheme to actually produce the work. As for myself, rather than gritting my teeth about the future and saying, “What’s going to happen now,” I wanted to actually try to do something. It wasn’t because we had a connection with the English-speaking world or that we could speak English well. How could we deliver our products, start to share them in a way that people throughout the world could watch? The two of us got together to talk about the best way to do that and ended up founding Symphonium.

H: The crew for this project including current freelancers is almost 100% creators. Simply put, when we creators are thinking about the ideal developments from the point of view of the audience, I think that’s the most natural form it can take. It’s a “zero base” company that just the two of us have invested the capital in, but including overseas and various media developments, if we manage the project properly as far as we can see within our area then I want to maintain the quality going forward.

— What are the ideal developments from the fans’ point of view?

H: Anime fans enjoy sharing their impressions, even up to the voice actor’s characters and relationships on social networks and video sharing sites. As anime has all the facets of a complete artwork, the ways of enjoying it can be complex. Even with the ripple effect, it’s entertainment. When thinking about how to increase that, we arrived at the idea of setting up a creator company. Without squeezing out the people in the middle, it’s the most simple way.

All kinds of otaku are welcome at the TOM Fan Club! Join here: https://otakumode.com/fb/8iy