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Vol 6. The Japanese education system embodies Cool Japan

KADOKAWA Contents Academy Co., Ltd.

PROLOGUE

“I love anime and manga!” many young people say around the world, but few opportunities exist to learn about the production of these things. There is a school that offers the chance for young people to create and develop their own splendid work in Japan and around the world with the goal of contributing to the globalization and the development of Japan’s content industry. This school is KADOKAWA Contents Academy. Cool Japan Fund invested in the Academy. This is our first investment in the field of education. In September 2014 the Academy opened in Taiwan and has expanded into Singapore and Thailand. We interviewed the people who were involved in the expansion from the beginning.

(*Interviewed as of July 2016)


PROFILE

President and CEO,
KADOKAWA Contents Academy Co., Ltd.

Tetsuya Koga

Tetsuya Koga

Born in 1969. After graduating from university, he worked for a general trading company and comprehensive staffing service providers, then established Tempstaff Creative Co., Ltd. From 2009 to 2012, he was president and CEO of Digital Hollywood Co., Ltd., which operates a university and professional training college for creators. Since 2010, he has been the director of the professional soccer club, Tokyo Verdy 1969. In 2013, he established KADOKAWA Contents Academy Co., Ltd. and took office as President and CEO.

General Manager,
KADOKAWA International Edutainment
(TAIWAN). Co., Ltd.

Taro Takeuchi

Taro Takeuchi

Born in 1969. After graduating from university, he worked for a securities company and then engaged in the staffing business, IoT, and school business specializing in the contents industry. In school management, he engaged in education consulting for corporations, the launch of a new educational business, and assumed the office of Chief of the Administration Bureau of a university. In 2013, he joined KADOKAWA Contents Academy Co., Ltd. In 2014, he was assigned to Taiwan and established the first school there.

Manager,School Operation Division /
Office of Business Coordination
KADOKAWA Contents Academy Co., Ltd.

Masashi Aoki

Masashi Aoki

Born in 1974. After graduating from university, he engaged in the human resources development of creators as well as management of schools and universities, career support, product development, etc. His experience in the industry extends over fifteen years. In 2014, he joined KADOKAWA Contents Academy and was engaged in system construction and curriculum development for overseas base schools. From 2016, he has proceeded to establish the system of support for overseas study and for employment in Japan for overseas students.

chapter1 Yearnings of young people from various countries sustained these efforts
KADOKAWA Contents Academy opened in Taiwan for the first time only one and a half years after the decision to launch it. In general, foreign-affiliated companies face difficulties starting educational businesses in any country and it can take two years or more to acquire a license. Nevertheless, the members who engaged in the launch of the school in Taiwan swiftly opened the school. Yearnings of young people from various countries sustained these efforts. Mr. Koga recalled that the government of each country was very cooperative as if they also understood such dreams.
Koga
From the beginning we were aware of the swiftness, but upon reflection, it was a quite daring schedule. When working at such a speed, I always felt the expectations of the young people abroad. Presently we go to a wide range of countries and directly receive inquiries about establishing a school from the young people and the governments of Indonesia, Vietnam, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. Many young people are waiting for our school.
Takeuchi
They also have strong wishes to become professionals and their dream is to debut in Japan. The school in Taiwan provides training courses on manga, character design, card game illustration, light novels (Japanese young-adult fiction) and 3DCG. Students enrolled in any courses love Japanese content and have nurtured a burning desire to create their own work. So, their skills are much better than we imagined.
Aoki
In the manga course, students are thoroughly taught the basic skills for drawing manga and the ways to use the necessary tools before actually creating their own work. At this stage, they may be able to draw manga, but the stories and expressions may lack appeal. Such points will be directly addressed by professional lecturers. For example, the element of moe (cute, charming) is a unique Japanese expression. Ways to express and add an element of moe will be taught. Likewise for improving color schemes or wider eyes, and other things. In this way, student work will be repeatedly corrected and students will be given constant advice.
Koga
The pictures favored by people will vary according to their ages, so no manuals are available. For example, the moe girl type and the pretty girl type are slightly different in terms of the size of the eyes and the thickness of the thighs. Lecturers are expected to teach the methods of drawing which are currently required, so they must be actively involved in the front lines. Accordingly, the selection of lecturers is also very important.
the academy in Taiwan

the academy in Taiwan

the opening ceremony of the academy in Thailand

the opening ceremony of the
academy in Thailand

students of the academy in Taiwan

students of the academy in Taiwan


chapter2 An important thing is that we can cultivate patience on students
The three people interviewed were formerly management at a university for digital content production in Japan. When considering taking on a new challenge by putting their management experience to use three years ago, they attempted to make a plan to establish schools around the world, beginning with KADOKAWA in Southeast Asia. KADOKAWA also considered developing creators overseas. The negotiations advanced smoothly. However, it takes extraordinary efforts to implement Japanese education abroad. What sustains the three people who proceeded with this business?

graduation works by students in Taiwan (©時七/©黒かぎ/©KADOKAWA Contents Academy)

Takeuchi
Our work gives us the opportunity to see with our own eyes how the actual educational service produced by us is received by the final consumers, the students. I think that it is unexpectedly valuable. Generally the producers of food cannot see with their own eyes the consumers that buy and eat the food. Watching the progress of each and every student in real time as a result of being taught by joyful teachers who go beyond the language barriers is a true pleasure for us.
Aoki
Hearing about the actual debut in Japan of our graduates gives us even more pleasure. But our work is not only education, but also the service industry, which must provide satisfaction to students. We always face difficulties in finding a way to maintain balance between the two. For instance, if a famous Japanese lecturer comes, students want to see his actual drawings as well as learn skills from him. The problem is how we can meet such demands in a limited amount of time.
Koga
While we are engaged in the service industry, we have to make students understand the reality. To be successful in this field, students are required to have considerable patience while training. Overseas students tend to think that they pay money, so they will be able to make their debut soon after graduation. I believe that the Japanese education system and quality embody Cool Japan and the most important thing is whether we can develop people who can persevere. This is common for any overseas expansion in the service industry, without exception. I think that this is the essence of the strategy behind Cool Japan.
Takeuchi
Indeed, although our students had rational thoughts originally, they have grown both in terms of skills and maturity when they graduate. During the graduation ceremony, they expressed their hearty gratitude to teachers and school staff. They made video messages as a present for teachers, cried, and talked with teachers, saying that they should work together professionally some time. Viewing such scenes, I really felt glad that our efforts were rewarded.
Koga
Such graduates become influencers and convey to local people that they had good experience in a Japanese school and that teachers with such characteristics came from Japan, and locals will become interested in Japanese content and become fans. This cycle can probably be seen at this school.
the Official site of “DAISUKI.net” (One-Punch Man becoming a phenomenal hit in US)

a classroom (Thailand)

People enjoying ramen outside Japan

a student involved in creation


chapter3 Pursuing a school brand recognized around the world
“Developing the content industry of each country is the goal of this business,” said Mr. Koga. When the markets of individual countries expand, there are more chances for Japanese content to expand into the overseas markets. If creators with a deep understanding of Japanese content increase around the world, they will become strong supporters of the Japanese content industry. The three people interviewed respectively have their own dreams which they want to achieve through this business, which will ultimately lead to the development of the Japanese content industry. Here are their wishes.
Takeuchi
A light novel written by our graduate sells and then that work is made into a manga by another graduate and then animated by another graduate and other graduates from the voice talent course are assigned to act and… If work made in such a way would be successful around the world, I couldn’t be happier.
Aoki
My first wish is that more students achieve success through our efforts. I want to establish a process for as many students as possible to get global jobs by improving the system for job matching and the support for debut after graduation.
Koga
I want to see the students nurtured in our schools in various countries getting together and jointly planning and producing work which sells in Asia, marketing it throughout the different Asian regions. I also want to collect donations to the school from various countries in the future to provide a chance in this field to young people from underprivileged backgrounds. Currently many students come from middle class backgrounds or above. There are many young people who really want to draw manga but are not allowed to do so by their parents because of a lack of money. I feel that we must firmly establish the brand of this school in the coming ten years or so in order to that we can receive support for all.
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