Japan’s status as a soft power has been growing since the turn of the century, and recently the national government has increased its support of Japan’s culture industry. Not to be left behind, Ibaraki has also fortified its efforts to promote the local content industry.
The Ibaraki Prefectural Government launched the Ibaraki Contents Business Evolution Project in 2014, with the aim of supporting and nurturing creators in Ibaraki and developing the local content industry. Its activities include the establishment of the Ibaraki Creators’ House, a base for content production activities and the nurturing of young creators in Ibaraki managed by the Tsukuba Incubation Laboratory. The house currently hosts 12 creators. The project also aims to support the exhibition of Ibaraki creators’ works with the organization of the Ibaraki Contents Collection exhibition in Akihabara UDX, held on Sunday March 6th, and the Ibaraki Contents Software Awards, the ceremony for which was held during the exhibition.
The idea behind the Ibaraki Contents Collection was 「あ、こんなのも作ってるんだ」 (‘Oh, they’re making things like this too?’), and it was held with the aim of increasing interest in and knowledge of the content industry in Ibaraki. Two of Ibaraki’s CIRs decided to take the opportunity to discover what creators in Ibaraki are up to, and attended the event.
38 booths featuring writers, animators, illustrators, comic artists, character designers, game designers, performers, and more were set up in two halls. On a stage set up in a separate room, a number of events were held throughout the day, kicking off with the Ibaraki Contents Software Awards 2015. The awards were separated into a smartphone app category and an animation category. A number of winning animated shorts were screened during the animation category, including some impressive works produced by high school students. The contestants were lucky enough to receive some feedback from the judges and special guests, who included Tomoya Aoki, the freelance blogger behind Ibaraking, and Production I.G. screenwriter Junichi Fujisaku, whose credits include Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Blood+, and Blood-C. After the awards were presented, Toru Noguchi, Director General of the Ibaraki Prefectural Government Planning Division gave a short address, in which he expressed his desire for content to become one of Ibaraki’s industries. There was also a special guest appearance from Ibaraki’s unofficial mascot Nebaru-kun!
Touring the booths was an exciting journey of discovery. Although I knew that there are many creators from Ibaraki who have successful careers in the content industry, I knew very little about local indie creators. There were too many interesting people to discuss them all here, so I have included a list of the booths below with links to the creators’ websites.
One of the main features of the Ibaraki Contents Collection was a special talk show on the theme ‘What it takes to make it as a creator’ by Shinji Higuchi, a film and special effects director best known as one of the founding members of Daicon Film (now Gainax) and director of Shingeki no Kyojin: Attack on Titan, and Ryusuke Hikawa, a researcher of animation and tokusatsu. They discussed Mr. Higuchi’s early career. It was very interesting to hear how his passion for film making as a student led to a successful directing career.
A second talk session featured professionals from the fields of comics, games, and characters providing information on the current state of these industries and advice for amateurs looking to debut as indie creators. I was particularly interested to hear from Kei Otomo, a producer from the company NHN comico, developer of the smart device web comic and web novel reader app comico. He discussed how developing comics to be read on smart phones requires creators to take the scrolling top to bottom format into consideration when choosing how to lay out their works. The other presenters also discussed how changing technology has affected their industries.
Unfortunately we were unable to stay for the final part of the evening, the Ibaraki Creators Stage, featuring performances from the band Denshi Jision, screenings of short animations, a hero show using CG to introduce traditional Japanese performing arts, and more.
The Ibaraki Contents Collection was a wonderful opportunity to learn about creators in Ibaraki. If you are interested in their work, please take a look at the list below and check out their websites. Hopefully these government initiatives achieve their goal of raising the profile of the local content industry. I am certainly looking forward to more events like this in the future.
What is the Ibaraki Contents Business Evolution Project?
Aim: Strive to promote the content industry by nurturing creators and creating a base for the production of content.
1. Manage the Ibaraki Creators House
2. Hold information sessions for residents and uncover talented creators
Create a network of creators, businesses, and organisations involved in the content industry, link with universities and hold seminars etc. in order to increase their knowledge and motivation as creators.
3. Support the exhibition of creators’ works
Match residents of the Ibaraki Creators House with companies and local industries and encourage the production of a variety of content through collaboration among creators. Display the results of this at the Ibaraki Contents Collection and link it to the development of business following the exhibition.
4. Hold the Ibaraki Contents Software Awards
Recognise anime and apps linked to the area, discover related talent and ideas, and promote the creation of an IT community.
Ibaraki Contents Software Awards 2015
Smart Phone App Category
Smart Phone Apps
Winner: Nobase! Nebaru-kun (Nebaru-kun wo Nobasu Shimin no Kai)
Runner Up: Hirameki Ibatouch!! (SHiFT-UP)
Runner Up: Ibachara Zukan (Ibaraki Prefectural Ryugasaki 2nd High School Commerce Department)
Smart Phone App Ideas
Winner: Omoidearimasu in Kasama (Kasama Omoide Seisaku Iiinkai)
Runner Up: Ryotei Fukuroda no Taki Keiei Simulation (Okawa Yosuke)
Runner Up: Ibaraki Yorimichi Navigation (Ishihara Hidemi)
Animated Short (Free theme)
Winner: Horikawa Demizu Hairu (Tani Yosuke)
Encouragement Award: ÉMIGRÉ (Nakajima Wataru)
Encouragement Award: Kami no Ue no Arty to Bit (Azuma Misaki)
Fighting Spirit Award: Gourmet Bancho (Champon)
Judges Special Award: Series Otomodachi (Nagaya Masaharu/Ishimatsu)
Animated Short (Ibaraki Theme)
Encouragement Award: Hajimete no Oryori Suteki na Natto (Takeko Denno Sosakudan)
Fighting Spirit Award: Natto Nostalgia (Sakata Ryo)
Winner: Nobara (An)
Second Place: Mitona (Nakano Sanae)
Ibaraki Contents Collection Booths
A group of students from Tsukuba University who got together with the common goal of making games. Their work includes the PC mystery visual novel game series ‘Campus Notes’, which is set at Tsukuba University. They are currently working on a smart phone RPG.
ICH Manga-ka Group
A combined exhibition of Ibaraki manga artists, including Aoyama Takanori from the manga production unit RusuKey, whose manga B is currently being serialised on MangaBox, Kino Hinata, who penned the Manga Junior Meisaku work Night on the Galactic Railroad, based on the famous novel by Miyazawa Kenji, and Yokoi Sanpo, who adapts games into comic form for magazines including Famitsu DS+Wii, Terebi Game Magazine, and Pikopuri.
Categories: Game, Illustration
Otasaku has managed the original character store ‘Otasaku Shop’ in Tsukuba since 2006. She produces cheerful and lighthearted merchandise and clothing using Otasaku characters, who are based on cats.
Categories: Character, Merchandise
Geek House Tsukuba
A Geek House is a share house comprising mostly of tenants who are NEETs or engineers. Geek House Tsukuba is working on an apiary based on the IoT method. They commenced preparations in November 2015, and have since held study and hive making sessions.
Categories: Sharehouse, Apiculture
A manga artist who debuted in 2010 with Pachinko Fever (Issuisha). They have since published several works including Pachipro7 (Tatsumi Shuppan), Pachinko Dairensho (Nippon Bungeisha), and Nekodamashii, and Nekopuni (Mediax). In November 2015, their work Kazoku ga Inakunatta Hi was published as a book.
A manga artist from Tsukuba who attended Azuma Kindergarten, Elementary, and Junior High School and Takezono High School. She graduated from the Department of Law at Chiba University then honed her design skills in the Planning and Design Section of Kinmei Graphic Art. She currently resides in Tsukuba, working as a freelance manga artist and illustrator.
Categories: Manga, Illustration
Matsuri Hero Project
The Matsuri Hero Project began as Tsukuba Hatsu! Matsuri Hero Soran Dragon in 2010. They have held hero shows and traditional Japanese performing arts shows all around the country and even overseas. They offer a range of action entertainment, including 3D collaborative shows and education packages.
Categories: Performance, Action
Hitachi Risshi Juku Business Journal Session
A workers’ group where young owners, successors, and field managers of small and medium sized businesses in Hitachi and Hitachinaka of various fields, ages, and genders come together for study sessions. They shared ideas with local university students and created their own character and LINE stamps.
This enterprise began as Studio Index in Hitach in 2003, and was primarily engaged in web design. After touring an overseas company, they began to design gaming apps. In 2015 they re-launched as SHiFT-UP, a smart phone entertainment app developer.
Local Animation Production Project
A project launched from an Ibaraki Creators’ Network volunteer workshop to produce animation with a close link to the local area. They are striving to gain a wide network of supporters and have the animations they produce used to promote Ibaraki.
Categories: Animation, Tram
An independent animator who produces animations that resemble silhouettes. He also takes on character design and illustration work.
An illustrator and comic artist who enjoys drawing young characters and machinery such as planes and rockets. They want to create works that can be enjoyed by many people.
A literary circle consisting of Tsukuba University students and alumni.
Noriko Senju: Involved in a variety of writing projects such as publishing stories online and in pamphlets and writing game scenarios and popular fiction
Yowa Shido: Writes novels and game scenarios. Was a short-listed candidate for the 21st Dengeki Awards Comic Writing category.
Kugai Iori: Writes novels, comics, and game scenarios. Author of Kakuheki no Make Doll (Ponican Books) Yoneura Yuu: The youngest member, representing the next generation!
Isekai Toukei Kazoeuta
A collaboration project connecting a serial novel with the Ibaraki Prefectural Government Statistics Division’s twitter. The project was planned by the Statistics Division. Yotagarasu from the Ibaraki Creators’ House writes the story and Tsunayama draws the main characters for use on twitter and the covers. The story currently has three chapters. It is uploaded every two weeks to the writing website Shosetsuka ni Narou.
Categories: Statistics, Novel
Kakkoi Rikei Yogo de Koi Shiyou!
Bikkuri Suru Hodo Yaku ni Tatanai! Rikei Kudoki Monku Shuu (A Collection of Incredibly Useless Scientific Pick Up Lines). This book features highly specific scientific vocab and a clumsy male scientist. A collaboration between Noriko Senju of Yotagarasu and Natsumi Furuyama.
Categories: Illustration, original work
A freelance illustrator specialising in illustration and character design active in Tokyo and Tsukuba since 2013. She recently illustrated the medical textbook Kanja to Kazoku ni Todoku Kanwa Care.
Categories: Illustration, Design
3D Girl Miri
A project by the Ibaraki Creators House illustrator Natsumi Furuyama, CG designer Akira Souma, and musicians Denshi Jision produce a 3D CG music video. Miri is the image character for Denshi Jision’s song ‘3 Jigen no Ano Musume to Kisu ga Shitai’.
A white-clad ‘scientific’ entertainment group/band active in Tsukuba Science City. As the members are scientists, their unique electronic music influenced by modern culture features Tsukuba and scientific vocabulary.
Categories: Science, Band
A graphic design company. They design brand logos, posters, pamphlets, websites, stickers, and more. They will commence the sale of a 3D projection experience kit for smart phones from April. The prototype was on display at the Ibaraki Contents Collection exhibition.
Categories: Design, merchandise
Studio Nibun no Ichi
A group consisting of a CG creator, graphic designer, and system engineer/ integrator. They are involved in a variety of production projects including videos, games, merchandise, apps, and illustrations in the pursuit of the concept of multi-use, which is one of the advantages of 3DCG.
Categories: 3D content production, video
The event producer Realize+ was established in 2015. They are working on an event for late July. Specialising in music and video, they have undertaken a new goal of treasuring their connections with people so that everyone they come in contact with can become a ‘plus’.
Categories: Event, Music
Studio Kinako is a studio based in rural Chikusei. They run classes and workshops for DJing, VJing, drums, keyboard, and DTM, produce music, and participate in events. They have participated in Comitia, Gallery Art Point Ginza, and Design Festa Harajuku.
Categories: DJ, Event
This company is engaged in the provision of services and development of apps for stores using SoftBank Robotics’ product Pepper. They are currently also in possession of Pepper’s older brother Nao.
Categories: App development
Began working as an illustrator in April 2013. Has worked on individual and collaboration projects including ‘Kinder Book 3 2014 April Volume’, ‘Mushikui Note’ (Kanzen) ‘Fukashigi Plants Zukan’ (Seibundo Shinkosha), and ‘Watashi no Hatake no Chiisa na Sekai’ (Express Media Publishing, to be published).
Categories: Illustration, Insects
Organiser of ‘Moeshu Summit’, and event held every year in Akihabara attracting around 30,000 attendees, this company produces sake for a variety of contents. Their shochu ‘Vocaloid Lilly’ won the special aware Lilly Frankie at the 2010 Bin Awards.
Penton Kikaku Shitsu
The owner of this toy design enterprise started it as a post retirement project, making use of their experience as a toy maker. Their interest in carpentry lead them to start making wooden toys using a 3D CAD and CNC tool. They won the Hyogo Governor’s Award at the 2014 Hyogo Prefectural Tanba Nenrin no Sato Woodwork Exhibition in 2014.
Categories: 3D CAD, Toys
Born and raised in Tsukuba, Eiko Kuriu graduated from the University of Tsukuba College of Comparative Culture and Kuwasawa Design School. After working for companies involved in editing temple publications, lighting, and IT, she started working as a freelance illustrator in 2009. She mainly creates illustrations for books, magazines, and websites.
Joined a printing company after graduation. After 10 years working as a designer, they went freelance. In addition to graphic design, they also do illustration and character design.
Tag: Character, illustration
Ibaraki Prefectural Ryugasaki 2nd High School Commerce Department
The commerce department started a project called ‘The commerce department began to use NetCommons’ as a part of the 100 year anniversary celebrations for Ryugasaki 2nd High School. The project includes activities such as the creation of groupware by students in the commerce department, a parent and child programming class using Viscuit, and the development of smartphone apps using Monaca.
Categories: App, Character
Oarai Introduction Booth
Oarai is working hard to show the world why it’s a great place, with projects like a store in the Oarai Resort Outlet dedicated to displaying the things that make Oarai wonderful and events that allow as many people as possible to enjoy Oarai, the setting of Girls und Panzer.
Categories: Merchandise, sightseeing, event
Tsukuba Short Film Competition
The Tsukuba Short Film Competition (Tsukuppe for short) is a film festival that is held to share culture from Tsukuba, uncover new talent, and to be a fun event for residents to enjoy. This year is the third year that it has been held, and director Yoshihiro Nakamura, who is from Tsukuba, will be participating as a special judge.
Kenpoku Local Creative Project
This project seeks to create a new style of working by renovating vacant buildings in shopping areas into shared offices and supporting creators and creative enterprises so that they can work without worrying about time and their workspace.
Categories: Northern District Economic Development Division, supporting creators
An animation studio based in Tsukuba. They have worked on a variety of projects, notably Agukaru, the short film ‘Mobile Suit Gakuen G-Reko Koshien’ included on the Blu-ray for Gundam G no Reconguista, and the short film ‘Pure Pure Purea desu’ available on the official Overlord anime website.
Ibaraki Nurse Center
The Ibaraki Nurse Center is a support facility dedicated to utilizing the skills of those in the nursing field for society. They have created the characters Hapina-chan and Nurse Centre-kun, and are working to raise awareness of them and their work among those in the nursing profession.
Ibaraki wo Shirou! Dai Campaign
The slogan of this campaign is ‘Nobishiro Nihon Ichi. Ibaraki-ken’ (Ibaraki, the prefecture with the most potential in Japan). The Nobiru Ibaraki Senden Tai, a group made up on Yoshitimo celebrities lead by Yuuji Ayabe and Naomi Watanabe and assisted by Ibaraki’s unofficial mascot, the natto spirit Nebaru-kun, are working to spread Ibaraki’s appeal all around Japan.
Categories: Public Relations Division
Nebaru-kun is the unofficial mascot of Ibaraki. He is a natto spirit born to support Ibaraki, the home of natto, and all the children in the world.
Ibaraki Film Commission
The Ibaraki Film Commission assists in securing locations for the filming of movies and TV shows and in attracting projects to locations.
Ibaraki Digital Contents Software Awards
A contest honouring smartphone apps, short animated films, and character designs organized by the Ibaraki Prefectural Government, the Ibaraki Prefectural Sophisticated Information Society Promotion Council, and the Ibaraki Information Service Industry Association.
Categories: Ibaraki Prefectural Information Policy Division, Animation