Popular manga and anime series often inspire a variety of derivative products, but not all of them have been made available outside of Japan. One such product that will soon be available in Indonesia, though, is the Haikyu!! Volleyball Card Game based on the popular volleyball manga and anime. In Indonesia, the manga has been released by the comic book publisher m&c!. The card game itself will be localized, featuring texts using Indonesian language.
So far, the distributor of the card game has been distributing free sample cards and holding some demonstrations in events. Our staff visited one of those demo events at Gramedia Matraman bookstore in Jakarta and Mr. Ardiatma Mardhika, a representative of the distribution company, welcomed us for an interview. We talked with Mr. Ardiatma about localizing the Haikyu!! card game, the card game market in Indonesia, and future projects from his company.
What is your role in the localization of this card game?
I’m here representing Brain Navi, a company that engages in contents business, such as producing card games, comics, and other merchandises. We are establishing a branch in Indonesia and our initial project is localizing the Haikyu!! card game. We are translating and going to distribute this card game to various retailers in Indonesia.
Who makes this card game?
It is made by Takara Tomy. Other than Haikyu!!, there are also other card games based on other Shounen Jump titles such as My Hero Academia.
Why do you choose to localize the Haikyu!! card game to Indonesia?
Card games are usually associated with “hardcore” TCGs like Cardfight!! Vanguard or Yu-Gi-Oh! with their very specific markets. This card game is different because it’s easier to play, so we believe the market won’t be limited to “hardcore” players only. Because it’s based on Haikyu!!, the card game has also attracted female players. It’s unlike the usual card games that are usually played by males. Some may only collect the cards, but that’s okay.
Can you explain more what the TCG market in Indonesia is like?
I have played TCGs since 2000 myself. When I started playing Magic about 18 years ago, there weren’t many sellers and no dedicated place to play TCGs either. But gradually, there are more hobby shops selling the cards, the products are getting more accessible, and the communities have formed. The product that we will distribute is kind of different from those kinds, though. We want to introduce product that not only TCG players can play, but also the general people. We are seeking our niche there. We also want to build a community because it’s difficult for a card game to survive without one.
Is localizing this card game considered risky?
Indonesia will be the second country where the Haikyu!! card game is released after Vietnam in October. Part of the deal with the developer of the card game is that the cards must be released using the language of the target country. Thus, the cards in Vietnam will be released in Vietnamese, while the cards in Indonesia released in Indonesian, and in Thailand later in Thai. I think the developer hopes for the product to be more easily accessible in each of the countries It’s our task to make the wordings on the cards in Indonesian without making them sound cringey or weird.
How will the cards be distributed?
We’re still in the process of working it out, but we have planned to release the cards through Gramedia book stores, and some toy stores because we also aim for children, as well as through online stores.
When will the cards be released?
The first starter deck featuring the Karasuno High School team has been planned for mid-December release. And then, early next year there will be the second starter deck as well as the booster packs.
How do you collaborate with m&c! to promote this card game? Will there be ads for the card game in the comics published by m&c! or will the cards also promote the Haikyu!! comics that has been published by m&c!?
To begin with, we and m&c! are both releasing products based on the same IP. The license holder in Japan has requested that the logo and other stuff in the card game are made similar to the ones used by the comics that has been published in Indonesia, so that people here can know that they are related products. Hence, we decided to collaborate with m&c!. For example, in the 14th volume of the Haikyu!! comic that has been released in Indonesia recently (12/9), there is a special chapter that discusses this card game. Then, we also plan to provide free samples through purchase of m&c!’s comics at Gramedia book stores. We have also began promoting the game through social media.
Other than m&c! do you also collaborate with other parties to promote this card game?
Of course. For now we have also collaborated with an Indonesian TCG community. They have received the sample cards in the recent C3 AFA event, and they have said that they will already hold a tournament even though only the “basic” cards have been available. We are supporting their tournament by providing the prizes.
As the distributor, will you hold your own official tournaments as well?
Certainly. Tournaments are necessary for card games to motivate the community to keep playing. But since the card still hasn’t been released yet, we are still yet to find out what the market will be like after the release. When we have sufficient data, then we will be ready to hold our own tournament in a relatively large scale.
As mentioned earlier, you will also support if other parties such as the aforementioned TCG community, or events such as school festivals, are holding their own tournaments, is that right?
That’s right. There is an upcoming festival in one university in Jakarta and they will provide tables for us. So, of course we will also support if school or university events are holding their own tournaments, to grow this game together. As the distributor, we will be happy if the customers are happy.
What kind of support will you provide?
Primarily in the form of prizes. For example, participants in today’s demo event are receiving a special play mat, and the winner receives a special card box and other items. We believe that players are happy to receive limited items more than prize money. As for other forms of support, like promoting the tournament, can be negotiated as well.
How are the responses to the card game during the demo campaigns so far?
Today’s event is very lively. Even though we are still in demonstration stage, there are already fans looking for opponents to play with here. We are also well received during our demo in C3 AFA. We also receive many questions about the release date of the cards on social media. So we really look forward for positive responses from Indonesian fans when the product has been properly released later.
Takara Tomy, the company that makes this card game, also makes card games based on other series such as My Hero Academia and [Cardcaptor] Sakura. Are there any plans to bring those card games as well to Indonesia?
Yes, we do have plans for other titles other than Haikyu!!. But our business is basically more about media contents, and the Haikyu!! card game is only a little portion of that. Next year, we may also release a mobile game. We can’t spoil the name of the mobile game yet for now, but when it’s official, we will inform it.
What are your expectations for the release of the Haikyu!! card game?
These days, many people spend a lot of their time on their gadgets. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but we believe playing analog games like this card game has its benefits. First, it drives us to socialize, since we need to meet up with other people to play it, and we communicate with our opponent while playing it. Second, the game has strategic aspects to it, so we believe it’s also suitable for children to develop their analytical skills. With those elements to consider, we hope the game can be well received.
The Indonesian Anime Times