26 CommentsEditorials / By Scamp /

Masaaki Yuasa’s “Kick-Heart” Kickstarter anime project

The facts: Masaaki Yuasa, the director of Tatami Galaxy, Kaiba, Mind Game etc, launched a kickstarter for a short anime movie called Kick-Heart. The goal is $150,000 and they’ve managed to raise 2/3rds of the funds required after half of the time period they had open to donate. I’ve waited until now to post about it, because I didn’t want it to get swamped under first impressions posts. If you somehow hadn’t heard of this so far, I strongly recommend you head over now and make your donation. If I can get at least one other person to donate with this post, then it will have been worth it.

The most appealing description of Kickstarter I’ve heard is comparing it to the Renaissance Era patronage system. One rich bloke pays a painter a load of money to create art, usually of himself or his wife. This eventually gave way to the investment system where rich blokes put money into a project with a guarantee they’ll get a percentage of the profits. Both cases result in widely different forms of art being made. The issue with the investment system is it tends to favour populist stuff, despite the fact there are projects a small group of people would be willing to pay large amounts of money to see come into fruition. This is Kickstarter, in a not-perfectly-defined nutshell.

I’ve never donated any money to a Kickstarter. I’ve always liked the idea, but nothing came up that I was devoted enough to the idea of to put my money on the table for it to be made. I was mainly waiting for someone to put up a Kickstarter for Satoshi Kon’s last movie to be finalised. Instead though, we’ve got some weird Yuasa anime. He explains his idea in the video on the Kickstarter page, but the basic gist of it is some goofy love story between BDSM wrestlers. I like that the he acknowledges that he’s been criticised for not having a proper emphasis on the story in his previous anime and that he’s trying to focus more on the story this time around. I’ve felt with his previous works that he’s best when there’s someone else there to hold back his crazy side on a leash.

The thing is though, supporting Kick-Heart isn’t mainly to simply see this short movie be made. Oh sure, Yuasa is the perfect director to try fund using Kickstarter, and I’m really interested in seeing this bizarre movie of his. But it’s more about supporting the concept of funding anime through Kickstarter-esque projects. One of the issues with piracy is people outside Japan have to wait a rather large amount of time for a DVD/BD of something they’ve already seen. With Kickstarter, there’s a clear line between the money they put on the table and the thing they want to see existing at all. If you think about it, with the huge prices a small amount of people pay for anime in Japan, the industry basically runs on a patronage system already, so it’s really not much of a change. If Kick-Heart reaches its goal, they’ll almost certainly up the ante and try to fund way more anime through this method, stuff that otherwise might not ever be made. It’s a long shot, but if Kick-Heart succeeds,  maybe some crazy exec in Japan might decide to try raise the money through Kickstarter to fund Satoshi Kon’s final film.

Or maybe they’ll use Kickstarter to fund a dating sim for WHO IS IMOUTO. That honestly sounds more likely…

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  1. Posted October 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    If you thought $400 was a hefty sum to pay for Kara no Kyoukai or half of Fate/Zero bluray, you’d be shocked by how much I have invested in just 10 minutes of a foreign cartoon…

  2. Posted October 13, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    The Kickstarter prize packages also offer a lot of nice extras that you wouldn’t normally get with a DVD release. Heck, if you donate enough, they will even FLY YOU OUT THERE TO EAT DINNER WITH THE STAFF. Offering interesting funding incentives like this, or more simple ones like the wrestling masks or illustration prints, is good for drumming up fan excitement and make you feel like you’re getting something for your money beyond a physical copy of a show you’ve already seen before.

    One of the other exciting things about Kickstarter is that it gives Western fans a more direct chance to take part in the industry’s de-facto patronage system as well. The Kickstarter site is in English, the prizes will be region-free and subtitled, and in general they seem to be pushing this more to a Western audience than your typical anime would. If this sort of thing takes off, I’d like to hope that studios would continue to use these Kickstarter projects for similarly globally-oriented projects, and help offset the risk of making something like Redline that clearly has more appeal overseas.

    Or The Dream Machine. If anything raises our chances of seeing Satoshi Kon’s last movie, it is a worthy cause. That we’re getting a Yuasa short in the process would be the delicious icing on the delicious cake.

    • Scamp
      Posted October 13, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

      The thing is flat out only interested in non-Japanese audiences. The page is written in english and french only. It’s kind of fascinating how that happened. There’s an ANNCast where they interview the Production IG guys about the project, so I’m sure some of my questions are answered there. I need to listen to it first though…

      • Posted October 14, 2012 at 12:14 am | Permalink

        Once I got over the high of seeing Yuasa’s name attached to another project, that was one of the first things I noticed – it’s all in English. Although the Twitter account does post in both English and Japanese.

  3. Posted October 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    The problem is, that not enough Japanese people know about Kickstarter. For some reason it mostly grew up to be an indie PC gamer thing.

    I’m mostly hyped about Kickstarter for breaking up the AAA gaming industry to smaller segments, and giving niche fandoms what they always wanted, instead of the

    But I’m not sure if it’s really needed in the Anime industry. Maybe becasue as you said, it is already kind of a patronage system anyways. Anime is already a very niche thing, and it is usually made on a shoestring budget, relying on the most hardcore fandom. If something is even more niche than these, it likely can’t be made at all.

    All the things that the anime fandom hates about anime (ecchi, moe, harem comedies, whatever) are not the symptoms of a harmful business model dumbing anime down to “the Lowest Common Denominator”, but the negative end results of Japanese culture.

    If anything, crowdfunding should be used to Kickstart a mature western animation industry. Now, THAT has a very similar problem to gaming. All the talent is sucked up by big studios that only care about making shows that can be featured on mainstream children’s TV channels, while animation is too expensive for one or two indie guys to do on their own from zero budget, yet there IS a nerd culture that can’t wait to throw their money at some kick-ass animated action series.

    • Scamp
      Posted October 13, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      I get where you’re coming from, but the point here is to bypass the Japanese altogether and give an international audience a chance to help make the anime they want to see get made

      • Posted October 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

        Being made by Japanese people, and for Japanese people, is kinda the point of Anime.

        If international audiences want to see international cartoons, then they should internationally make their own cartoons. Japanese artists can join in on that too, I guess.

        But that’s not something that should be organized by turning a chunk of the existing Japanese anime industry into international studios, or by the anime fandom collectively funding an episode “out of principle”, to support such a goal.

        I’m an anime fan in large part because I like anime’s Japaneseness. I like it’s arts style, it’s senses of humor, it’s genres, it’s ideals, it’s religious views, it’s character archetypes, etc. over much of western media.

        If you are not like that, and you are just looking for interesting cartoons and the Japanese ones happened to be the best right now, than I guess this is good news for you.

        I will also back cartoon projects, if there will be ones interesting me on their own right, but not for generally “supporting the concept” of making the anime industry less Japanese.

      • LordOmnit
        Posted October 14, 2012 at 3:08 am | Permalink

        I’m trying to wrap my head around what you are saying and can only come up with two possible conclusions: 1) you don’t support the idea of kickstarting a wildly out of the ordinary anime project because you like the way anime normally being produced are, or 2) … argument for argument’s sake?
        I had an actual number two, but I think I fused them into that first one. Either way the idea behind it is that by using kickstarter it will either succeed or not mostly irrespective of it’s origins or the business normally around anime because it is prefunded. Now I’m an anime fan for the same reasons you outlined, but seeing new things out of something I like whether or not I like those new things is always a welcome sight to me because so long as new things are coming out of it there is a chance for something new that I do like a lot to come out of it.
        Because of the model that Scamp outlined in the post the anime that you and I like that drew us in aren’t going to disappear or stop being produced and if at the same time something new and imaginative comes out for it then I’m all for that.

        I feel something weird happened in this response so I’ll sum it up as: I support this kind of innovation and don’t care where it comes from because it’s not going to destroy what I already like and is highly, wildly, ridiculously unlikely to stop more of it from being made anyways so it’s more or less all positive from my viewpoint.

      • Posted October 14, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        I’m interested in the idea of the traditional Anime consumer base migrating over to Kickstarter. I’m intersted in western animators kicstarting cartoons that much of the western fandom would like. As I’m said, I’m not even opposed to Japanese animators occasionally pitching for western fans. (after all, I’m not a racist to draw lines of segregation based on some sort of “blood purity”).

        The Kickstarter Revolution WILL happen, along with all three of these possibilities.

        I’m just not particularly enthusiastic about that third one. I didn’t ever like OELM, or OELVN, the 80′ and 90’s anime classics supported by the western fandom never amused me, not to mention the recent Japanese gaming industry.

        And that is what this project indirectly represents. With gaming, I didn’t back the Double fine Adventure pitch, I waited until Planetary Annihilation, because I didn’t like the presentation of “give us money, and we will make… err… some sort of game!” Even if I knew that more pitches like that will come, and some of theirr end results might even be good, I could afford myself to fund the ones that even more accurately conform to my wishes.

        It’s a similar same thing. I’m with Kickstarter, I just don’t like the specific system presented here.

  4. Gunslinger
    Posted October 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Well guess what, this is gonna be the first anime i have ever paid for. Now i feel bad about downloading over the internet :(

    • Scamp
      Posted October 13, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Yay, I got someone to donate! Post already worth it

  5. Haruki
    Posted October 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Heck, I can afford giving them at least 15 bucks for this, being the new-student that I am, I’ll just have to wait until I get new monies :D

    • Scamp
      Posted October 13, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

      Wooh 2 people donating from this post, I should get personal thanks from Yuasa because I’m so cool please pay attention to be Production IG guys

      • Posted October 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Scamp for your help. We really appreciate it!! ;) Yes you are cool.

        Justin Leach

  6. luffyluffy
    Posted October 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Permalink


  7. Posted October 14, 2012 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Glad to see someone else making a post on this (was planning to do mine this week, actually). It really is a project to support, since it may somewhat change the anime climate. Hopefully.

    If you think about it, with the huge prices a small amount of people pay for anime in Japan, the industry basically runs on a patronage system already, so it’s really not much of a change

    I may be dumb, but how would it be like that? When it comes to Kickstarter, you give money to something you’re interested in and as a result is is created. Normally, however, studios create something and HOPE there will be money.

    • Scamp
      Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Because it’s a small group of enthusiasts who pay more than something is actually worth in order for it to get made. The difference is whether the money goes to them before it’s made or after

  8. leokiko
    Posted October 14, 2012 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    I might donate them 100$ in a few days. Let’s see if I can, otherwise it will be only 50$ or so.

    • leokiko
      Posted October 14, 2012 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      ^well, 60$ since that’s the one available.

  9. Chocolate Toothpaste
    Posted October 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Hells yes, I have only a little money but I’m going to give the $60 option. If I had $10,000 to spare I totally would – translating the costs into pounds makes me far more relieved though, yet I wonder how much money they’re getting from this with all the swag they’re shipping out for free.

    • Gunslinger
      Posted October 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      True, even the 5 dollar reward includes a poster, the video, etc and even includes shipping charges. Its hard to see where they will make their profit.

  10. SQA
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    One of the interesting bits, if you think about it, with the Kickstarter approach is that the fan base can actually funnel more money directly into a series. There’s a massive amount of middle men cut out of the process. Someone has already dropped 10k to have a tour of Production IG with most of the key staff of the company. I know of at least a few Ghost in the Shell fans that would drop that type of money for time with Oshii alone (if they had it).

    Though this is more limited to OVAs or original Movies. If this works, I expect to see it confined mostly to those 2 areas. Madhouse & Production IG’s movie divisions could be much better funded this way. If you think of what Redline did in Japan, it could make some sense to go this route for the production funding.

    • Scamp
      Posted October 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      The middlemen in this case is Kickstarter itself, who do take a percentage of the money raised. Probably still better than previous systems, but worth still keeping in mind

  11. Johnny Joestar
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Sorry if it’s a dumb question, but is it too late to support this somehow? I only found out about this recently.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 12:38 am | Permalink

      Yes it is. It’s been made and is out there. Not sure how you can watch it though, as it’s still currently doing the festival circuits.

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