Offering visual and music entertainment through a variety of outletsKazumi Kawashiro President and Representative Director, BANDAI VISUAL CO., LTD.
- April 1982
- Starts at Canyon Records Inc. (currently Pony Canyon Inc.)
- July 1989
- Starts at BANDAI CO., LTD.
- April 1994
- Starts at BANDAI VISUAL CO., LTD.
- May 1999
- Director at BANDAI VISUAL CO., LTD.
- May 2003
- President and Representative Director at BANDAI VISUAL CO., LTD.
- June 2007
- Director at BANDAI NAMCO Holdings Inc.
- April 2010
- Executive Vice President at BANDAI VISUAL CO., LTD.
- April 2012
- President and Representative Director at BANDAI VISUAL CO., LTD. (current position)
- April 2015
- Executive Officer at BANDAI NAMCO Holdings Inc.
- June 2015
- Director in charge of Visual and Music Production SBU at BANDAI NAMCO Holdings Inc. (current position)
The Visual and Music Production SBU is working to diversify entertainment, expanding business fields beyond package-centric business models and tackling new ventures, such as the live event business. Kazumi Kawashiro, President and Representative Director of BANDAI VISUAL CO., LTD., speaks on the status of each business and IP creation efforts, as well as the inclination of the next Mid-term Plan.
What is the current status and future outlook for the packaged product market?
Kawashiro: Net sales for the market as a whole have been declining for over ten years. On the other hand, we have had a number of hit products that have earned the support of our customers. For instance, the animated feature film In This Corner of the World garnered high praise from all sides, winning the 40th annual Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year and becoming a hit product for our company, selling more than 100,000 movie packages. There will always be a need for high quality products. By further increasing the value added by bundling extras into movie packages, we strive to offer an enjoyable experience not available through other means.
In This Corner of the World
How are the live event and music businesses performing as the focus of initiatives to secure new outlets?
Kawashiro: Both businesses are performing well. In line with the vision of the current Mid-term Plan, the Visual and Music Production SBU strives to be the “No. 1 Group in Animation, Visual, and Music Products.” In order to grow all our businesses, we are actively working to expand our business fields, with visual and music products at the center. Results have been promising. In particular, while creating conventional monetization mechanisms for the overseas live event business has not been easy, the live Anisong World Matsuri event for songs from animated movies and TV programs held in Shanghai and two cities in the United States had a positive impact on earnings. This contribution to earnings has been a significant step forward in proving the great potential of the overseas live event business.
To successfully offer visual and music entertainment to our customers, in both video packages and live event experiences, it is important to remain flexible while not vacillating more than necessary in response to media and market changes.
What is being done for IP fans overseas?
Kawashiro: We are expanding our live events in various countries by actively participating in large events, such as trade fairs and Anime Expo in the United States. We are also working on improving live viewing mechanisms so fans that cannot attend live events can enjoy them in real time. Such mechanisms have proven incredibly popular, with tickets for Love Live! events selling out quickly in Asia after their introduction. In Europe, Lantis Co., Ltd. Joined with AMUSE INC. to establish a joint venture company that distributes contents, particularly animation and songs from animated movies and TV programs, in April 2016. I would like to work toward business expansion in Europe, where interest in Japanese anime is quite high.
What is the status of Actas Inc., which became a subsidiary in September?
Kawashiro: Actas Inc. produces the popular IP GIRLS und PANZER, among other animation titles. Close collaboration with animation production is essential in creating and cultivating IP, including maintaining schedules for the development of products and other items as well as reviewing and reworking contents in response to trends among fans. The addition of Actas to the Group has made further integration of animation production and related businesses in IP development possible. The significance of this is considerable. While Actas is a small company, they are a studio committed to creating high quality products. In the production of animation, there are times when quality must be set aside in the interest of efficiency, but studios that remain highly motivated to create quality products under those circumstances are priceless. Moving forward, I would like to see production that makes free use of the BANDAI NAMCO Group’s IP outlets while maintaining quality.
What are the key titles for the second half?
Kawashiro: In Actas animation products, the first stage of six of GIRLS und PANZER: The Final Chapter will open in December. In conjunction with this release, we are planning to hold a large-scale exhibition of original GIRLS und PANZER illustrations at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro, Japan, in late December. Through such activities, we hope to garner excitement for GIRLS und PANZER and its fifth anniversary. In addition, due to the positive reception of Princess Principal, which aired this summer and in whose production Actas was participating, I would like to see further expansion of this program as new IP and development of relevant promotional measures.
In products the Group was involved in, the second stage of the animated Love Live! Sunshine!! TV program, which began broadcasting in October, is already receiving significant support from fans. In theatrical releases, Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: Bandit Flower and Mobile Suit Gundam Twilight Axis: Red Trace were jointly launched on November 18th. The fourth chapter of Space Battleship Yamato 2202: Warriors of Love will be released in January 2018. Also in January, the animated TV program based on BANDAI NAMCO Online Inc.’s IDOLiSH7 game app for smartphones will begin. We are releasing a lot of key titles to look forward to.
Our biggest challenge is IP creation Cultivating IP to take advantage of our abundant outlets
What are the strengths of the Group as a whole in terms of IP creation?
Kawashiro: We have many types of IP, including game IP, animated movie and TV program IP, and a variety of others. As such, compatibility with outlets is highly important for both creation and utilization. Entertainment at the BANDAI NAMCO Group is a broad business, and its abundance of outlets is one of its strengths. By that I mean not only the number of outlets for IP utilization, but that we possess ground fertile for producing IP befitting of those outlets. Each business has a unique soil in which it cultivates Group IP. The Visual and Music Production SBU cultivates its own seeds, creating IP that can be utilized by other SBUs laterally. These IP are then cultivated by each SBU, making the entire Group stronger.
What direction will the next Mid-term Plan take?
Kawashiro: Our biggest challenge is IP creation. IP creation and utilization work hand in hand. Without IP, the business as a whole cannot expand. The influence gained in creating a powerful new IP that generates buzz throughout society will likely be a significant theme in the next Mid-term Plan.
What is your motto for the human side of things?
Kawashiro: I believe that when it comes to human resources, “enjoyment predicts aptitude.” Liking what you do is important in everything including production, utilization, management and customer support. I want our employees to take on the challenges that interest them. It has always been my intention to ensure that this is a company where employees like to work. A top-down approach to making important decisions is all well and good as a governance mechanism, but in terms of IP creation and planning, I strongly believe that such an approach tends to lead to complacency rather than a search for the interesting and challenges to the status quo. In my mind, people who like what they do build productive environments on their own and I would like to see systems suitable to that goal included in the next Midterm Plan. For that reason, I am advocating bold changes, such as widespread decentralization of authority. I want to create an environment where employees take responsibility for the projects they choose and where people are interested in and want to do what they are working on.
This article is an extract from the Newsletter, BANDAI NAMCO News, which was published in December, 2017 and partially re-edited.