Japanese publisher Kadokawa begins Thai language content business

BANGKOK, NNA - Leading Japanese content and media producer Kadokawa Corp. has launched a joint venture with Thailand's largest publisher, Amarin Printing and Publishing PCL, foraying into its sixth overseas content market.

The joint venture, Kadokawa Amarin Co., follows investments in the publishing and content business in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and the United States.

Kadokawa Amarin was set up in September to develop a digital platform and distribute in the Thai language Japanese content licensed from the Kadokawa group.

Officially launched last Saturday, the joint venture has an authorized capital of 30 million baht ($840,000), 49 percent owned by Kadokawa Holdings Asia Ltd., 46 percent by Amarin and the remaining 5 percent by Bangkok BTMU Co.

A publishing house named "Phoenix" was established at the same time to produce Thai versions of Japanese novellas and manga comics, targeting readers ranging from high school students to 30-year-olds. Products are expected to be released simultaneously in the Japanese and Thai markets in the future.

Kadokawa has long been interested in the Thai-language content market, as Thailand was often ranked among its top five markets by sales, Kadokawa Amarin's Chief Operating Officer Taro Iwasaki told a press conference. In April, the company also opened the Kadokawa Animation and Design School in Bangkok, the first branch in Southeast Asia of its art academy.

The new company also aims to produce magazines, e-books, websites, animation, licensed merchandise and character goods under a "media mix" strategy, and market that content through online and other channels, Iwasaki added.

The Thai version of a novella written by Makoto Shinkai based on "Your Name" (Kimi no Na wa) -- the Japanese mega-hit animated fantasy film now being shown in theaters and ranked No. 1 at the Thai box office the weekend it debuted there -- is the company's first product. Released on Thursday and priced at 275 baht, Thailand is the first foreign country where the novel has been translated.

Iwasaki said Amarin is a Thai mixed-media publisher which has a high-quality printing plant and strong distributing infrastructure while running other media businesses such as television channels, offering the joint venture several opportunities for releasing content.

"We hope to drive the Japanese light novel and manga market in Thailand and widen them to reach the mass market," said Ussanee Viratkaphan, Amarin's deputy managing director and Kadokawa Amarin's acting managing director. "Currently a few of them are available in general bookstores with non-outstanding display, but we will use Amarin's network to make them available at bookstores nationwide with better display."

Kadokawa Amarin is expected in three years to have all type of content as a fully mixed media provider. Next year it plans to launch nine light novels, three manga titles and a Thai-language version of Walker Magazine containing tourism information about Japan.

(NNA/Kyodo)