Japan Content Showcase: Fun but Fuzzy

It’s been four years since TIFFCOM, Tokyo’s annual film and TV market, joined forces with affiliated music and animation fairs to create the Japan Content Showcase (Oct 20-22, 2015).

Now held at the bayside Grand Pacific Le Daiba hotel in the Japanese capital’s watery Odaiba district, the event is certainly more colorful, with musicians and costumed characters roaming the floor. Yet it’s not always clear what exhibitors are getting out of it all.

TIFFCOM organizer Yuko Yamada said that a quarter of the 347 exhibitors at this year’s JCS were from the music and animation industries.

“I think there’s a real synergy when everybody comes together at a single market like this,” she said, explaining that music industry representatives at JCS may be more concerned with promoting artists than securing sales. “Everyone’s on the look-out for new business opportunities.”

Asobi System, an events and management company based in Tokyo’s hip Harajuku neighborhood, is back for a second year, occupying a prominent spot on the concourse outside the main exhibition hall.

“We’re consciously promoting content overseas, so it’s attractive to be somewhere with a lot of foreign buyers,” said the company’s Sayuri Mizuno.

Just next door, an enormous screen broadcasts live footage of Sekai No Owari, the chart-topping J-pop band that supplied the theme songs for Shinji Higuchi’s recent “Attack on Titan” films.

According to Jimmy Kitaji, who works for a subsidiary of the band’s management company, Amuse, Inc., participating in JCS is about “increasing the profile, but hopefully the sales will catch up.”

“It’s the same for everyone, I think. We’re trying to expand globally,” Kitaji said.

200 buyers from JCS attended a Sekai no Owari concert held Tuesday at a nearby venue, Zepp DiverCity Tokyo.
Anime is also part of the JCS ticket, and many booths have been doing a brisk trade.

“Buyers aren’t just interested in film trades, but also licensing and merchandising,” said Chisato Kuroda of the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA), 15 of whose members are at JCS this year.

At Tokyo Creators Next, an exhibition of eight independent animators selected by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, things were rather quieter. The section was a new addition to the JCS lineup for 2015. “We’re not sure if we’ll do it next year,” said one of the staff on the booth.

Perhaps the most incongruous exhibitor, soft-porn company Rire Inc., has been on board since the TIFFCOM days. “We’re careful not to screen anything too hardcore here,” said sales manager Kenichiro Suzuki, as mildly titillating footage played on a TV next to him. Unlike other Japanese porn channels, Rire produces its own content, so is better positioned for overseas sales.

“The Japanese population is shrinking, so we have to think internationally,” said Suzuki.

Staff at Nippon Columbia’s booth echoed that sentiment. The venerable Japanese record label was promoting acts ranging from idol groups to traditional musicians, as well as Kumamon, the costumed mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture.

“Unfortunately, domestic sales keep declining, so we have to think about global sales,” said the company’s Dan Torigoe.
Elsewhere, the message wasn’t so clear. At a booth promoting tourist spots and local specialties from Kyushu, in southern Japan, even the staff couldn’t say what they were doing there.

“I’m not sure,” said a representative. “This is a little bit vague.”

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