Anime Expo 2010 Hobby Japan Industry Panel
by Gia Manry,
Publisher Hobby Japan's panel was held by two representatives from Japan, Sakakima and Kawahara, as well as Miki Ogata and Rod Sampson, who work for the company's new U.S. endeavors. Hobby Japan has just celebrated their 40th anniversary of the Hobby Japan magazine, and this is their first panel at Anime Expo, where they will announce some new U.S.-based efforts.
The panel launched with an introduction to the company Hobby Japan, which began publishing its self-titled magazine in 1969, and now also publishes Arms Magazine and Game Japan, as well as the light novel imprint HJ Mini Paperback, which launched in 2006. The company is planning to expand their business, starting with more digital business (primarily via cel phone), the creation and licensing of properties, and the development and co-development of products.
Among the properties handled by Hobby Japan are Queen's Blade, Queen's Blae Rebellion, and Hyakka Ryoran. The Queen's Blade series are based on fighting game books featuring extensive illustrations and bishoujo pretty girls; the series has been adapted into two TV anime series and a new 6-episode OVA series. Queen's Blade Rebellion is a follow-up fighting game book series. Hyakka Ryoran, also known as Hyakka Ryoran: Samurai Girls, is a light novel and figurine series with an upcoming anime adaptation; it was noted that it was also the first franchise in Japan to release novels and figures at the same time.
Hobby Japan has plans to develop its US market business, including digital publishing, bundled sales, and an English website and fan events. This will launch with the release of all three properties' books published online, on their own website as well as the iPad app store and Amazon Kindle. Distribution will be free to begin as a promotion.
Printed versions of these books will also be bundled with figurines via specialty stores (via Diamond Distributors), Amazon, bookstore chains, and their own website.
The official English Hobby Japan website will launch "soon" with an online store and an official fan club for US fans to learn about upcoming events. They will also reach out to U.S. fans via collaborators CULT JAM, Media Blasters, Anime Jungle, and Manga Factory.
After these announcements, the panel went into Q&A.