“Above everything, I didn’t want to lose that ‘sense of excitement’. That was probably the biggest reason for me.”
Leaving as editor in charge of the publisher of popular manga comics like ‘Vagabond’, ‘Dragon Zakura’ etc., Yohei Sadoshima set up a new business described as a “creator agent”. He explains how this came about to us.
“For 10 years, I worked at Kodansha, a company with an illustrious history in publishing. It was where I was able to meet a lot of people, build trust with my more senior colleagues and gain all kinds of experience. At one time, there was only the print form where writers could express themselves, but nowadays a variety of media has emerged and the need to be restricted to just magazines and comic books has all but disappeared. For myself, I thought that I wanted to explore these ‘other’ possibilities. However, when you are in a large organization like Kodansha, there is a feeling that the excitement and urgency that comes from challenging new things would be marred”.
“In times of change, there aren’t too many moments when the large size of an organization isn’t like a chain holding you back.
“In any action taken in life, I believe the ideas and feelings you want to create and what is important are in front of us. But for an organization, in some ways, tend to make a thing of whether they go against the organization’s traditions and existent manners beyond other ideas and concepts that may exist. To get something new done, first is to see whether there was a precedent, then get the opinions of the higher-ups in the organization, and how it is traced back to the ‘past’ so to speak before gaining approval. For myself, to confirm as to whether my ideas and actions were right, I went straight to the writers themselves, who wanted to make these ideas happen as soon as possible. I believe it is too late to wait for people stuck in the past to catch up.”
So for Yohei Sadoshima, he went directly to the writers, made agreements with them and subsequently launched ‘CORK’, an agent to support creativity. With a mere 3 members of staff including part-timers, there was talk that “there would be no work for first 2 to 3 years” at the beginning of its establishment.
“As a publishing man up to that point, I was now standing on the writer’s side, so it was going to take time to gain their trust. But a number of famous manga writers such as Moyoco Anno and Chuya Koyama agreed to this venture and immediately said they would sign up. Though I thought it was a little out of the ordinary, I felt with just that reaction that this was the kind of system that they as writers needed”.
The business of being a creator agent set forth by Yohei Sadoshima is to “maximize the value of the writer and their work”. In other words it is also to “maximize the feelings received by the reader”.
“A business is where by only through moving the feelings of people does money change hands. It is rather like that. For example in the case of a delivery service, willing to pay the fee through the feelings of gratitude that an urgent delivery was made on time, or in a restaurant where the joy of enjoying delicious food is equal to the cost of the meal.”
On the other hand, when considering the excess of 14 million copies of ‘Space Brothers’ sold in total, for some readers, they said the comic changed their lives. The value the reader is paying for that is one issue for 560 yen, and for all issues around 15,000 yen, as Yohei Sadoshima elaborates.
“It is not that the reader is satisfied with just that. In fact to match that experience, money is no object but they want something to savor again. Through getting hold of related merchandise, or taking part in events to experience the world of ‘Space Brothers’. Of course, the world of that manga comes from inside the writer’s head, and for the writer, the work was written as a manga in mind, but there are many other ways to spread those feelings and express that world. That’s why our role as an agent is to savor the feeling of that work before everyone else. Through anime, internet, electronic media, goods, events …… To spread feelings concurrently with the work, is I believe of great value for the writer and for the reader.”
There is no expense spared for people’s feelings. For that reason, we want to maximize the value and a feelings of the work, to expand the business is something to achieve as a business. That is the hypothesis set by Yohei Sadoshima.
“Though I thank you for coming here to do an interview, for CORK as a company it is just a stage/step to express/ declare the challenge. If someday the hypothesis I set myself is very successful, please come down again to cover us (laughs)”
A cheeky glint in his eye gives off an unmistakable “feeling of excitement”.
The magic of photos expressing that which defies language
“I was introduced to Yoshihiko Ueda through his wife Karen Kirishima. When he showed me his work when I visited him at home, I was shocked at how simple and yet amazing his images are. They were too great, actually — I wasn’t sure what it was that made them so outstanding. There’s something about them that sets them apart from other snapshot photographs, something I cannot express in words. Yoshihiko Ueda reminded me once again that the real magic of photography begins when words no longer suffice.” (Yohei Sadoshima)
Yoshihiko Ueda. Photographer & curator. Born in 1957 in Hyogo Prefecture. Began to work as an independent photographer in 1982. Ueda photographed for countless advertising campaigns and is the recipient of many Japanese and international awards such as the Tokyo ADC award, the New York ADC award and the Cannes graphic award. In 2015, Ueda published the photobook “A Life with Camera” featuring works from more than a thirty-year-long career.
Born in 1979. Spent junior high school years in South Africa. Entered Kodansha after graduating from Tokyo University. In charge of hits such as ‘Vagabond’ by Takehiko Inoue, ‘Dragon Zakura’ by Norifusa Mita, ‘Hataraki Man’ by Moyoco Anno, ‘Space Brothers’ by Chuya Koyama serialized in ‘Weekly Morning’ magazine. Left the company in 2012 to establish the writer agency ‘CORK’.