Friday, July 09, 2010

Anime Avatars in the USA

SOFT POWER - HARD TRUTHS / Know thy audience

A few months ago in New York, I got wind of an enterprising new virtual reality game called TinierMe. The principal developer, the Japanese gaming company GCrest, a division of CyberAgent Inc., opened an office in San Francisco earlier this year for the U.S. launch of its virtual reality portal featuring anime -style visuals.

Imagine Second Life with avatars that look like anime characters, giving American and other English-speaking fans a chance to cosplay, to create their own anime-inspired avatars anytime they want, rather than waiting for the next area anime convention.

Amid the dissonance of declining anime DVD and manga book sales abroad and at home and the escalating numbers of overseas fans attending conventions and expos, entrepreneurs are beginning to see an opportunity: Reach the fans via new networks of accessibility, and you just might survive.

"We see tremendous opportunity for growth," says Masaru Ohnogi, who heads GCrest America in San Francisco and is overseeing the launch of TinierMe. We met in the parent company's Shibuya headquarters during his brief Tokyo business trek late last month. "Our goal is to become a virtual Disneyland," he says. "We want to entertain people all over the world, with music, games, anime...everything." [more HERE; & @ 3:AM HERE]

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