Gracing Anime Expo 2018 was the CYBIRD Ikemen Series booth. Otome game fans may recognize such popular titles as “Ikemen Sengoku” and “Midnight Cinderella: Ikemen Royal Romances”. We had the chance to sit down with their booth boy Kuramasu Hiroto and learn more about his work at CYBIRD.
Interview with Hiroto Kuramasu from CYBIRD (Ikemen Series)
Would you like to introduce yourself?
My name is Hiroto Kuramasu and I’m the Ikemen Series English version producer and I’m also the official cosplayer.
What came first, cosplaying or your work with the series?
Cosplay was a small hobby of mine before I started working on the Ikemen Series. Then in 2016 I came to Anime Expo for the first time and I cosplayed for one of the Ikemen Series titles and that was really popular here and in Japan so that’s why I started doing it more constantly. And also, the company started to use me as the official cosplayer for events in Japan, Taiwan, and all over the world.
Do you see a difference between fans in the U.S., Japan, or other countries?
Yeah, all the countries are a little bit different. I would say America is like, the noisiest in a good way! Like, excited! Maybe Japan and Taiwan are the more shy ones, and Singapore is somewhere in the middle. They start as a shy people but when they know they can take photos or do kabedon with me, then they become very excited.
Overall, I think Ikemen Series fans are the same all over the world. They like their favorite guys.
How do you choose which characters to cosplay?
Usually, I pick the ones that I like, but I often I talk to the Japanese producer and director and discuss which one I should do cause they might want to use me for a certain character’s promotion. I tend to maybe lean to calm characters, but I’m doing two new characters this Anime Expo and they’re completely different. But it’s a secret for now!
(Writer’s note: We would come to find out these were Ray from Ikemen Revolution Isaac from Ikemen Vampire)
What led to you doing things like kabedon and whispering in fans’ ears?
So the kabedon started in 2017, the first time we had this huge booth. We had a team meeting where we wanted to think of something to make our booth more exciting and one of the members suggested kabedon event and at first, I was like “No I can’t do that!”. But they convinced me and I agreed to try and then a switch went on. But it’s really great so many people enjoy it!
Can you explain more the work side of what you do?
My role is producer so I do stuff like decide which game to localize next, allocation of staff, a lot of money related issues, management... and for these kinds of events I decide where to go next and come up with a marketing plan and how to achieve our goals. I also think of the kind of merch people want.
Can you tell us about your newest game, Ikemen Revolution?
Ok! Ikemen Revolution was released in Japanese in 2016. It’s called Revolution because we wanted a revolution for the Ikemen Series. The UI is different, the gameplay is a LITTLE different as it’s a card gacha type. It’s similar to current female-targeted games unlike how Ikemen Series was before. The theme is Alice in Wonderland, everyone’s familiar with the theme. I think Ikemen Revolution is my #1 or #2 game out of the whole series because it’s a fantasy and it’s similar to Sengoku and the protagonist is strong and independent, not like previous otome games. Whenever she wants to say something to the male characters she does, she fights back. It’s also different in that a lot of the characters have colorful hair, for example, Fenrir has purple hair. We wanted to appeal to more diverse tastes and have characters people wanted to cosplay. When you think of cosplay, you want to have colorful hair!
What goes into the decision process for route releases?
We don’t follow the Japanese order all the time, sometimes we’ll release a more popular character or if a character’s birthday is coming up and the timing is right, we do that.
With Revolution being one of your favorites, what’s your next-
Sengoku!! That’s everybody’s favorite. The heroine is probably the strongest one in the whole series. All the characters interact with each other, even in story events and other events. It’s not just between you and him, different characters do things together. In that way, you get to know more about the characters. And in every story, there’s always another character that will love you, so it will encourage you to play their routes too. It’s actually a little surprising that it’s as popular as it is around the world but it’s about more than just romance. It’s about life and surviving.
Throughout our talk, Hiroto kept mentioning how influential the fans are in decisions made by the company. He explained that even though it’s a niche market, there are so many wonderful, supportive fans than keep them going, and the English staff is extremely grateful. We left him to continue getting ready to thank those fans with kabedon and whispering sweet words in Japanese to waiting ears.
Hey friends! I reside in Georgia and use my degree in Japanese primarily to (barely) read doujinshi that hasn’t been translated. Beyond deciding who is best girl in whatever I happen to be watching, I really enjoy ballroom dancing, reading, crying over dating sims, karaoke, and being surrounded by beautiful things~ (You know, scenery, décor, boys, stuff like that). I also love talking about passions with others!