Content Tokyo: A doorway for Indian companies into Japan

MUMBAI: Your breath is sucked out of your lungs as you walk through the sky walk from the 800 room Washington Ariake Hotel and set your eyes upon The Big Sight in the Ariake district of Tokyo. Home to some of the largest exhibitions in Tokyo, it is Japan’s largest and most impressive exhibition and convention centre; its scale is something we Indians are not quite used to.

From the outside it looks like two gigantic inverted funnel cones have been placed side by side and connected easily and invisibly. Its geometry grabs you and makes you look again and again.

And when you step into its portals, its scale is what grabs you and then you hear that there is the east side and the west side to the Big Sight. How much bigger than that can you get? and Animationxpress were the sole Indian invitees to Reed Exhibitions Content Tokyo, which took place over last weekend over three days between 29 June and 1 July.

A very Japan focused event, Content Tokyo had six different exhibitions under its umbrella – Production Companies Expo, Creators’ Expo, Licensing Japan, Advanced Content Technology Expo, Content Solutions Expo and Content Marketing Expo. An amazing number of showcases from game creators, licensors and merchandising companies, virtual reality producers, artificial intelligence ventures, content marketing online, animation studios brand solutions for digital advertisers, artists, photographers, illustrators, caricaturists, game creators, comic artists, Japanese majors such as Panasonic, Nissan Motor Co, NTT Communications, Sony Music and Akamai, and event exhibition solutions providers made the event extremely interesting.

Altogether some 1,530 exhibitors, of which about 100 were from other Asian countries from South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, China, Indonesia had pitched their stands over the two floors of Big Sight. The three day event had 40,000 footfalls from qualified business visitors, and Reed Exhibitions Japan director, group VP, international, sales and marketing division Hajime Suzuki says that there was a 25-30 per cent hike in attendance this year. And that the international visitors are around 8-10 per cent.

There was something for everybody in the various zones which included: The Video/CG Zone, Video Marketing Zone, Marketing Technology Zone, Anime/Manga Zone, Web/App Zone, Advertising/Design Printing Zone, Music/Sound Zone, the Robot Zone, Management/Dsitribution solution Zone, Content Business Supporting Zone, the local government zone, Content Production Tool Zone, ebook/epublishing zone, the Art &Design Café, and the Taiwan Pavilion.

The massive Creators Expo had more than 700 local Japanese creative professionals exhibiting their talents – designers, music/sound creators’ zone, video/animation/CG creator zone, Photographer zone, Author/Writer Zone, Calligrapher Zone, Game Centre Zone, Manga/Comic Artist Zone, Art Zone and the Picture Book Zone.

A standout was the virtual reality games solutions and software/Artificial Intelligence area where companies tested their new offerings, offered content production and data analysis and prediction services. The Licensing Zone attracted 220 exhibitors and the characters which were looking for licensees included: Godzilla, Detective Conan, Rilakkuma, Hanakappa, Kanahei’s Small Animals, Monchhichi, Peko, The PowerPuff Girls, The Smurfs, Beavis and Butthead, Where’s Wally, Ghostbusters, and Rody. Nissan, Rover, Japan Airlines, Hershey’s, Laura Ashley, Lamborghini, and Jeep were some of the brands offering licensing partnerships.

The Creators’ Zone with its mind warping display of Japan’s emerging talent in every creative space kept you engrossed and left you open mouthed. Reed Exhibitions’ Suzuki revealed that this zone offered the talented creators an opportunity to get in direct contact with clients and has been growing annually.

So does it make sense for Indian – and South Asian - entertainment companies to attend Content Tokyo? From our perspective, will definitely go again. Even exhibit, if possible. If there is a short coming of Content Tokyo, it is the fact it is very Japan focused, but given Suzuki’s intention to attract more international players that could change over time. The positive of the Japan focus is that it will help South Asian or Indian companies to get a deep dive into the Japanese entertainment market. However, they would do well to have an interpreter or someone with Japanese proficiency along. Almost 90 per cent of exhibitors and attendees speak Japanese and sparing English, though more of them are hiring an interpreter themselves to accelerate the internationalization that’s set to hit Content Tokyo.

Suzuki explained that he has been tasked with the responsibility of bringing in more international participation and he is quite bullish about India.

“Animation, gaming companies from India and Japan can work together,” he said. “Indian studios should take advantage of this opportunity and exhibit here. India and Japan are working closely together in many sectors. The media and entertainment sector could be given closer collaborative attention by companies from both countries.”

Will his intention become a reality? It’s over to industry now.

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