The Strength of Soft Power
When you think of Japan, various images cruise through the mind’s eye. Cars, electronics, robots, spotlessly clean surroundings, Anime and Manga, elegant temples, serene gardens, and more. Aficionados of Japanese culture in other countries always want more content, but this can be difficult thanks to Japan’s relatively isolated nature by comparison with their neighbors China and South Korea. Fortunately, that’s about to change thanks to the Japanese government’s “Cool Japan” initiative in partnership with the blockchain startup MINDOL.
For decades, Japan has been known as a land of technological expertise and strong design sensibilities, but increasingly, its cultural output in the form of Manga (comics) and Anime (animation) is reaching a global audience. Part of the Cool in Japan initiative’s first volley involves the production of an original anime series called “Sora no Oshigoto“, a drama concerning a group of girls going through flight training school. In a recurring theme throughout Cool Japan content, the anime dovetails with the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Cool Japan is also working with MINDOL to launch a slate of TV shows in partnership with Japanese production agencies that are responsible for popular variety shows within the country. The aim here is to spread global awareness of forms of television entertainment that are popular with a domestic audience, but haven’t reached other countries in the same way as anime.
Finally, the Cool Japan initiative is planning a MINDOL Japan Festival, where lovers of Japanese subcultures can get together and nerd out, ala the various ComicCons in the United States. Keeping with the theme of global outreach, the festival will be held in Paris, Los Angeles, and Germany. The festival is divided into five areas: a promotional space for MINDOL, an area where fans can meet and listen to Japanese creators and celebrities, and anime, cosplay, and gaming areas.
Japan to the Future
Promoting Japanese pop culture to a global audience requires an extensive digital push in this day and age. Many of Japan’s anime producers who rely on TV are seeing diminishing returns, for instance. They realize they need to build a robust digital content distribution strategy that extends far beyond Japanese borders. Additionally, the state of modern media involves a razor thin separation between content creators and content consumers. Services like YouTube Red and Twitch offer real time interaction and a chance for fans to influence their favorite programs like never before. MINDOL is leveraging the blockchain to embrace both of these trends for the Cool Japan Initiative.
MINDOL’s blockchain content distribution platform (eMINDOL) is built on the Ethereum network and their ERC20 token is eponymously named. Consumers can use the token to buy content or invest in projects they care about. The platform promises to serve as a launchpad for up and coming artists, who fans will have a chance to donate to. Token holders can vote and participate in planning and the production of new content, obliterating the divide between those who make and those who take content.
The blockchain gives MINDOL the privilege of operating as a decentralized content distribution platform; neither the creators nor the audience need worry about the shadowy practices of more centralized platforms, where revenue tampering and artist exploitation is rife. The immutable record of the blockchain also helps tamp down on copyright infringement to an extent, although no blockchain can prevent all privacy.
MINDOL has an impressive team, and Fumihiro Fukukara, their president, has proven himself a high achiever over his long, distinguished business career. They count Neal Schaffer, a renowned marketing thought leader, and Gil Junger, a famous Hollywood producer, among their advisors. The company has raised US $42 million in a private token sale confined to Japan, using the funds to start various projects. They plan to conduct a public sale of their token for a global audience in the future.
Like fragrant flowers brewing in hot water, Cool Japan’s mixture of the country’s forward thinking approach to crypto, the blockchain’s transformative potential, and a rich heritage of illustration, animation, and entertainment all promise to increase Japan’s cultural standing throughout the world. By the time the 2020 Tokyo Olympics arrive, we’ll all be toasting each other with boxes of unfiltered sake.