On Thursday we saw two special Tokyo based companies: Ghibli, the ‘Disney of Japan’, and DeNA, a giant social gaming developer. Both companies have precisely defined models and are supremely self confident in their ability to satisfy the demanding Japanese consumer. Comprehension of their core markets has lead to ubiquity nationally and significant awareness beyond.
I had never heard of Ghibli (despite them having won an Oscar) but visiting their museum was like being teleported into an enchanting snow globe. Designed as a child’s wonderland, the house exemplifies the magic and richness of Ghibli animations. In a industry driven by stratospheric budgets and technological wizardry, Ghibli’s animations are the aesthete’s pure choice. At around 300 employees, Ghibli is a tight knit operation revolving around a couple of key individuals. Strong ties with distributors and licensors ensure the movies and brand are presented just so. Ghibli understands its raison d’être to be enchanting viewers with its magical animations, which is does with aplomb.
DeNA social gaming was a demonstration of how fads can generate traction in Japan years ahead of the rest of the world. Penetration rates and expenditure by mobile gaming consumers in Japan show a glimpse of might be in store for the west. Not all Japanese fads are likely to make it across the Pacific – for example maid cafes.
– Robert Habib –