Japanese pop-culture is an incredibly fan-driven, participatory space. This is one reason why I love analyzing this culture, and always keep tabs on it for my classes and research. One technological development that could potential facilitate more co-creation in anime is Blockchain. This technology that is radically revising how we do business but also how we share decisions and create content. Let me give you some cool examples of how this tech is being used in Japan, and worldwide, to connect more with fans.
MINDOL: Anime on the Blockchain
Project MINDOL is a real-time, blockchain based technology that connects fans. This project is related to Cool Japan, the MINDOL project has been established. The goal is to put new content in anime, cinema, games, manga, and music on the Ethereum blockchain. This comes with huge advantages for copyright management (also of fan productions) and transparency of votes/donations in the production process. This is the tokenization of Japanese pop-culture. The Next Web writes:
‘Another unique feature of this project is its progressive model, which is based on the Ethereum blockchain. Although the choice to use blockchain is monumental for many reasons, it will highly support two facets of MINDOL — copyright management and transparency of votes and donations.’
A top team of industry professionals is working on MINDOL – Fumihiro Fukukara functions as its CEO. Primary advisors include Koichi Ishizuka, Neal Schaffer, Tatsuya Ariga from Touch Planning Group, and Terry Ito from Locomotion, Inc.
Fans and influencers matter to MINDOL and are its main holders. MINDOL launched an art platform, amongst others, with many illustration contests. Fans can choose the winners. Another aspect that was launched was an influencer voting system, details here.
But the most interesting project is a collaboration with Ministry of Defense, a co-created anime called “Sora No Oshigoto.” The work will be an action youth fantasy martial arts cartoon. I have done a rough translation of the website, which states:
‘In the process of animation production, MINDOL holders can vote for character designs and voice actors, donate and show support (with their name in the credits), and engage in special visits such as after-recording scenes.’
Cosplay Token: Tokenization and Creative Business in Fandom
What if we could support the fans that produce beautiful cosplays? What if we could show value in other ways than a compliment at a conventions? What if we could make cosplay even more global? Cosplay Token aims to resolve such problems in the cosplay community by launching a global cryptocurrency. Whether this is truly a good coin to invest in, I leave up to you, but I’ll share it anyway because it’s a very interesting case. This is a highly fan-driven coin, aimed at sharing at encouraging cosplayers, creating trust and safety, aimed at creating value around the cosplay industry.
The platform Cure WorldCosplay is behind this initiative – a fan-driven platform to upload cosplay photographs. Different cosplay from China to Canada have shown support for this coin, such as SeeU, Rikachuu and Maridah.
The platform has many advantages, which are aimed at supporting cosplayers in their craft and even business, creating visibility around the subculture, and regulating the culture (e.g. illegal images).
This relates to creative business so much – we see new, fan-driven and global initiatives emerge to create actual economic value around existing practices. We see an ambition to professionalize a subculture and to create a healthy, self-sustaining environment around it. Much of this is possible in fandom already, but this gives a bit of that added (economic) support and appreciation that some cosplayers truly need.
- Otaku Coin planned by Tokyo Otaku Mode in Japan, a popular pop-culture e-commerce site. The coins will be accepted at stores geared toward otaku, such as anime shops. At least, that’s the plan.
- Animecoin (ANIME, a relaunch of the ANI coin) has been launched this summer. It is aimed at collecting art and supporting artists. Collectors see high-res art in their wallet of all purchased art. The website states: ‘The basic value proposition of ANIME to an anime fan is that a collector of anime art can see the art available for sale on the decentralized ANIME exchange and can purchase them in return for ANIME coins’