The newest issue of Keizaikai (Economic World) magazine carries the interesting headline “The Secrets of How Akihabara, The Neighborhood Prime Minster Aso Loves, Can Teach Us to Beat the Recession,” with photographs of Rozen Aso himself adorning the cover, along with images of the otaku Holy Land scattered throughout.
The feature article of the magazine is centered around interviews with various financial leaders of Akiba-related businesses, including the CEOs of Onoden (an electronics store chain), Takarada Duty Free Shops, and the chief of otaku mega-store Tora no Ana, among several others.
The business tycoons appear to be giving their own personal interpretations of why their businesses are suceeding, although the general themes seem to be of Akiba “following the pulse of the public” and of providing its customers with what they desire most.
The magazine’s index, with the majority of the pictured interviewees being part of the feature topic.
The fourth person from the right happens to be Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, president of Production IG, creators of such TV shows as Ghost in the Shell and the currently airing Eden of the East.
The tagline on this page roughly translates as:
“The ‘Otaku Holy Land’ whose battle strategy for the future is giving itself the economic branding as the launchpad of Anime.”
Kazushi Ono, director of Onoden, has this to say:
“I would like to seek the the revival of the “Main Street” of Pop-Culture.”
(The reference to a “Main Street” above is only an approximation, the original term refers to a street or crossroads that is restricted to vehicular traffic at a certain point in the week and opened to pedestrians. The gist of his statement is along the lines of Akiba serving as the packed market square of pop-culture.)
The small text box on the left page quotes:
“A crossroad that doesn’t let you wander outside its main roads is meaningless.”
Hirotaka Fukuda, President of Tora no Ana, offers this:
“Ignoring the rise of the ‘Light User’ is a fatal mistake!”
The first of the two smaller quotation blurbs help put into context just what he means by “Light User”:
“You cannot treat your ‘Heavy User’ partners/customers lightly!”
In other words, a hardcore customer base requires special attention, something that the head of Tora no Ana must be quite familiar with.
“Video Delivery sites (online streaming) are not our enemy, but rather allies.”
This is fairly self-explanatory, if possibly improbable.
The financial magazine is also making a rare appearance at the Tora no Ana’s flagship store, due in no small part to the feature story, and perhaps the presence of the company’s head officer inside.
Despite recent reports of the anime production industry hitting a downturn, it does not strictly follow that the rest of the anime and manga-related industries are similarly afflicted, especially as something less than 20% of revenues produced by anime historically come from sales of the animation itself, with the remainder made up of the merchandising trinkets otaku are always so keen to purchase.
In any case, statements from the Prime Minister himself proclaiming “Otaku Tourism Will Save Japan!“, do lend some credence to the notion that Akiba might just be on to something worth a closer look.
Via Akiba Blog.