Evolving with Otaku Culture - Tokyo Otaku Mode Inc.

With over 14.5 million likes on Facebook, Tokyo Otaku Mode delivers the mainstream culture of Japanese manga and anime to the world. Its rapid growth is attested to in various media, yet the workings of the company still remain a mystery. To reveal its secret to success, we interviewed members of Tokyo Otaku Mode at their new office. (Last Update: April 10, 2014)

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Their new office, located in Omotesando, is located in a building that is well-known as a “Good-Luck-Building” that was once occupied by CyberAgent. The building is close to Omotesando Station and is surrounded by cool and modern architecture.

Omotesando

A big Tokyo Otaku Mode logo greets visitors at the office entrance. The four O’s are hollow so that you can peep through to the working space. Colorful illustrations from many artists are adorn the walls to the desk area.

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Art pieces and manga are neatly displayed on a striking red shelf.

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A product area for the Tokyo Otaku Mode Premium Shop make the room even livelier.

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Today, we talked with Co-Founder Mr. Akiyama on the details of the move and the inside scoop on Tokyo Otaku Mode.

Co-Founder Takuya AkiyamaCo-Founder Takuya Akiyama

Rapid Growth

Why did you decide to relocate?

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Our previous office was about 20 tsubo in size, but had over 20 people working in it. It was underground, so it almost felt like we didn’t have enough air. There was also no meeting space, so we had to go out of the office to discuss our projects in cafes.
We realized that even that system wasn’t working when there was a line waiting for the sales staff to leave the office so that others can use their desks to work at.

How long did that situation last?

Probably for about four to five months. Our office was way too small even at the time when we just started to search for a space to relocate. Also, because we offer e-commerce and carry goods, we had to secure a fair amount of stock space. The volume of the goods and our company were both growing more than what we expected, and our new double-size office is starting to feel a bit small already.

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Choosing the Right Office

What did you look for in your new office?

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Many employees voiced their opinions, and it was hard to find a balance, but a convenient location was a must since our clients are practically all over Tokyo. There’s an anime studio in Tachikawa, a manga publisher in Kanda and Jinbocho, a record label in Aoyama, and so on.
Our last office was located in Aoyama-Itchome, and to keep our image high, we continued to search in the Shibuya-Harajuku area. This building was one of the first candidates, and I was pretty sure that we were going to find the right building in this area.

What type of “image” do you value?

We handle entertainment and creativity and our office is a place that creators and creative clients visit, so it had to be filled with a sense of enthusiasm and joy that matched our online presence. We didn’t want to disappoint them with a dull and old office.

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How is your new office?

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The location is superb, so I think it’s more easily accessible for our clients and it’s a nicer place to visit than our previous office.
Also, our last office was on two floors, underground and ground level, but our new office is bigger with only one floor, which makes it easier for employees to communicate and collaborate together. One tiny downside is that the lunch costs are higher. Still, it’s always fun to search for reasonable and delicious restaurants.

The Beginning of Tokyo Otaku Mode

How did your company operate in its earlier days?

We only had five starting members. We all had different jobs, and gathered on weeknights and weekends to start a Facebook page on a hobby basis. None of us were so-called “otaku”; we didn’t have an interest in anime and didn’t go to Akihabara often. However, we all wanted to spread something made in Japan worldwide.
Luckily, Japanese manga and anime were very popular around the globe, and we decided to send out “otaku culture” to those both inside and outside Japan. At first, we didn’t know what people wanted, so we asked them. We went to Akihabara to research what kind of goods were popular on the market, and attended Figure Expo to see who bought what. If we were too obsessed about it, we probably wouldn’t have made it this far.

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What paths did you take to expand your company?

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We started off meeting after work and on weekdays, attending events, and posting on Facebook. After a while, likes gradually started to increase, and we started gathering attention from different industries. Eventually, we were recognized as an influential media, and various individuals and companies offered to share information with us.
Along with these changes, we prepared interview teams, user support teams, and growth teams. As for the Facebook page, the algorithm on Facebook is highly calculated and there is a countless amount of trial and error that is needed to produce a successful page. I believe it would be hard for someone else to copy what we have accomplished.

The Future of Tokyo Otaku Mode

What are you aiming for?

We want to deliver Japanese manga, anime, and other unique aspects of Japanese culture like J-Pop music to foreign soil using the right means. We want to build a platform where users can feel as if they are in Japan experiencing its unique and attractive content. We want to be able to give profits back to the creators.
And, we want to be in the middle of users and creators, as well as for Tokyo Otaku Mode to be the most famous brand to buy manga and anime goods from.

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What is it that you want to achieve by supporting the creators?

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By supporting the creators, we are hoping that we can help find the next Hayao Miyazaki or the next Katsuhiro Otomo. For example, if corresponding in English is difficult for creators, we are here to offer support. If foreign companies request jobs, Tokyo Otaku Mode comes in as a mediator.
We will continue to help Japanese creators spread their wings, dreaming of a day when a world-renowned creator is born from the support of Tokyo Otaku Mode.

Thank you for the interview!

CEO Tomo Kamei and Co-Founder Takuya AkiyamaCEO Tomo Kamei and Co-Founder Takuya Akiyama

Photo Album

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Tokyo Otaku Mode Inc.

Tokyo Otaku Mode Inc.

Representative: Tomo Kamei
Headquarters: 444 Castro Street, Suite 1200. Mountain View, CA 94041
Branch Office: 3-5-30, Kitaaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Founded: April 2012
URL http://otakumode.com/about

From 47

I first came across Tokyo Otaku Mode through Facebook’s success story on companies that create popular pages. With the release of “The Tokyo Otaku Mode Premium Shop”, I was aware of their expansion, but had a little knowledge of who they actually were before going on the interview. Their office was filled with enthusiasm wanting to spread the Japanese culture to the world. I am looking forward to their further development and growth. Thank you very much for your time and cooperation!

Interviewer: RyoharaInterviewer: Ryohara