As reported by Anime News Network and others, Japanese animation studio TRIGGER’s Kickstarter campaign to make a sequel episode to their Little Witch Academia OAV met its goal of $150.000 in less than five hours. The Kickstarter is at $285.000 right now, with a whopping 28 days still left to go.
In the Kickstarter video, TRIGGER co-founder Masahiko Otsuka explains that after the studio uploaded the single-episode anime on YouTube, they got an unexpected flood of comments from overseas fans, many urging them to hold a Kickstarter campaign so they could make more episodes. TRIGGER looked into this Kickstarter thing and decided to give it a go.
TRIGGER was only asking for $150.000 to make one episode, not 2 million like the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter. I think it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to compare the potential effect of the Little Witch Academia campaign on that other now justifiably famous and much-discussed fan funding success, though. TRIGGER has raised almost twice what they asked for already, and the Kickstarter isn’t nearly done.
On the English-speaking part of the Internet, where the concept of using Kickstarter to raise money for creative projects is already very familiar in and of itself, The Veronica Mars campaign fueled a lot of talk about the ethics of pro creators asking fans for money (for a product that they will end up paying for again once it’s ready for sale). I reckon that the discussions surrounding the Little Witch Academia campaign will be more about how Kickstarter could enable overseas fans to support the Japanese anime industry. Overseas fans not only motivated TRIGGER to start the Kickstarter in the first place; they were probably also largely responsible for its smashing success. It sounds like Japanese fans can also participate in Kickstarter campaigns via their Amazon accounts, so there’s no way to tell for sure how many of the people who participated in the Kickstarter were non-Japanese fans, but the comment section seems to be almost entirely in English.
In the video, TRIGGER’s Otsuka urges other Japanese creators to consider Kickstarter as a way to raise funds for projects among overseas fans. I wonder if any anime studios, game studios, or other individuals or companies will follow TRIGGER’s lead soon. Fan funding in and of itself isn’t a new thing in Japan, of course; Ken Akamatsu’s J-Comi, for instance, regularly holds very successful “fanding” FANディング campaigns to raise money to re-issue out-of-print manga, special sets of manga that include material previously issued only in dojinshi, and so on. These campaigns are aimed at Japanese fans, though. I don’t remember any examples of Japanese creators aiming directly for overseas fans with a fan funding campaign. The success of the Little Witch Academia campaign should certainly give ideas to other studios.
(On a totally different note, I’m no doubt the millionth person to mention this, but could anyone point me to a discussion of how Little Witch Academia is a cross between maho shojo and Harry Potter? There’s a lot of meta in there. Here is TRIGGER’s YouTube upload.)