Tokyo's Japan Content Showcase Boss Talks Growth, Future Plans

Courtesy of Japan Content Showcase
Japan Content Showcase CEO Yasushi Shiina

Yasushi Shiina says he wants to add business to consumer offerings and explains why Japanese films today often don't sell as well as other content.

The sixth edition of Tokyo's Japan Content Showcase, which will conclude Thursday, has set new records. 

The market that is affiliated with the Tokyo Film Festival attracted 371 exhibitors and 1,549 buyers, both high-water marks, plus it moved to a new venue in the Ikebukuro neighborhood of the Japanese capital.

Yasushi Shiina, CEO of the Japan Content Showcase, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about what is behind the growth, feedback he has received about the new venue and future plans for the market.

The market has set records again this year. What is driving the growth and attracting more exhibitors and buyers to the Japan Content Showcase?

First, I would say, it is Tokyo. People want to see what's going on in Tokyo. We also moved this year, so probably people were interested in how [the new venue] is. It is also the content — TV and animation, film and the technical. Many different things are important in our market.

Do you see any new competition for the Showcase in the region or somewhere else?

So far, no, nothing. There are film markets connected to the festivals. In our case, it's a content market, including film. That is quite different. The only markets like us are MIPCOM in France and FILMART in Hong Kong. We are also pushing the strong Japanese content, the best of content in anime and characters.   

Why do you think Japanese content, especially manga and anime, is so popular in many parts of the world? 

Somebody said that the characters are cute and the stories are quite different. 

Some people have wondered if the Busan market could be shut down one day. It was rather quiet this year. Would that benefit the Japan Content Showcase?

Busan is a film market, not a content market like we are. So maybe buyers are not so interested. We have different content to offer. Unfortunately, Japanese films are not so interesting to the international market, but other content is. 

What is the challenge for Japanese films?

Now in Japan, the mainstream is films based on Japanese comics. It's quite domestic, not understandable for foreign people. That is why Japanese films don't go to international markets so much.

What's the feedback you are getting for the new market venue, and will you return here next year? 

So far, we have gotten a good reaction from the buyers. Many proposed to go closer to the center of Tokyo. They said the old [venue] in Odaiba is a good place, but there are no good shops and restaurants. After the market, they want to go drinking sake or eat sushi or so. I think they want to enjoy the Tokyo nights.

Any plans for next year or beyond?

I would like to have something B2C, business to consumer. From [today], there is a cosplay event. We are now talking about doing our events together. We are also now talking about showing movies or animations. Ikebukuro [where the market moved this year] will have a new cinema complex with 12 screens in 2019, and in 2020 there are 10 more coming from [another company]. So we should show some films, some drama or something in the theaters to get regular people in. 

There is a history of a different guest country at the Cannes Film Festival's marche every year. I would like to do such things. You can then have a party and see a famous actor or actress who is not Japanese.