This may be of interest to regional readers only, as our special guest today, Shia, worked at the local anime firm ODEX and gained some very interesting experience.

Shia was a student of Singapore Polytechnic, in computer network technology course diploma and had the opportunity to work as an attachment student at local anime firm ODEX through which he gained inside experience of the anime industry far beyond what normal fans get. His ideas helped revolutionise the operating systems of the company and probably benefitted the local anime scene greatly. Till now, he keeps in close contact with his colleagues at ODEX.

tj han: Hello Shia! First, let’s talk a bit about yourself. When did you get into THIS ANIME SHIT and how did you go about enjoying this hobby?

Shia: I started watching anime when i was around Secondary 2 , I was drawn in by watching Digimon, somehow the OP songs drew me to somehow like japanese culture. I watch raws my friends  send me, subs , I buy chara goods that I can wear(cospa shirts), nice looking  posters and figures. I do a bit of subbing myself.

tj han: Shia is quite proficient in conversational Japanese apparently. And you earned an attachment at ODEX. Could you tell us how you got in, and perhaps some insight into how the company is like?

Shia: I didnt really earn it , it was a choice between a random company that could be at a worksite pulling network cables and a company where I would be working and still enjoying myself there. I applied there and they accepted me.

tj han: So it pays to be pro-active. Many I know did rubbish attachments where they were treated like slaves and didn’t learn much. Anyway, let’s talk more in-detail about ODEX. Being almost a monopoly here in Singapore, they are however still rumoured to be losing money. Is this true? What are their field of operations?

Shia: 禁則事件です :X (Trans: classified!)

tj han: PITY. Now that would’ve been interesting. Anyway, when you were there, I heard you introduced a few new initiatives to help boost the company’s output. What were some of these initiatives?

Shia
: Basically using my knowledge as a fansubber, I introduced some subbing methods to speed up processes. This greatly improved the work efficiency there. Instead of using MS Excel, I taught them the use of SSA, vobsub and other opensource programs which made for far less tedious subbing.

tj han: Being an insider, what do you think are some of the problems ODEX faces? How are they solving these problems?

Shia
: I dont see myself as a insider now , I see myself as someone who has dabbed in both subs and commerical work. As for problems I personally felt at that time was, how to  keep all those casual people that watched anime and became fans from becoming unwitting supporters of piracy. Sometimes bootlegs mimick the packaging of original goods and confuse these fans.

To me people who d/l fansubs are a lost cause, until the day where the internet “dies” (which I hope it will not), but then for piracy ODEX did all it could to fight piracy. There was this highly publicised case where TS (a VCD retail chain of stores) was brought up to court for infringing copyright, and there were some other smaller cases that were settled. For me , what could be done is to educate the fans, roadshows to say no to piracy, I feel that “re-education” is the best way instead of trying to bring it up to court. The target group of ODEX in their VCD/DVD sales are the casual viewers, who are either not IT-savvy enough to download or just want convenience.

tj han: Could you describe the process a title goes through, starting from the initial airing till it pops up on store shelves?

Shia: Well basically, ODEX buys rights for the region, once the deal is confirmed, we start dubbing and subtitling synchronously, while our designer will start designing covers and then we push it down to our distributors for distribution. Dubbing in mandarin is normally in Taiwan, while for English, sometimes American voice actors are flown in just for this.

The rights for the region also includes TV airing rights. So with the exception of Animax, all the anime you see on TV and in the region are actually licensed by ODEX and resold to these TV stations. For example, the recent publicity blitz of Mai-hime. This two pronged business approach (rights and VCDs/DVDs) is what keeps ODEX going.

Animax is actually bidding competition. As we know, Animax are backed by SONY and some studios but ODEX wins its fair share of rights. ODEX being such a regular customer of most studios, are treated very well by them. Bandai for example, gives ODEX licensing almost right away after an episode airs in Japan or sometimes even before. This shows how much trust they have, since giving the raws before the airing leaves them open to leakage and piracy.

tj han: Surprisingly large scale, ODEX is. Most people have the impression of them being involved in just the retail market here.How does ODEX go about picking titles for licensing? What are some of the major ones we can expect to see in the near future?

Shia: It’s a secret, but the list is pretty long, lets just say it’s usually the top rated shows in Japan.

tj han: Well it may be a secret here but from what you told me unofficially, there are certainly some HUGE shows involving a certain Data Entity. What were some of the perks of working there?

Shia: I got to go on a free trip with my boss to Japan,  I visited GONZO studios, I was at Tokyo International Anime Festival 2005.

tj han
: WOW! GONZO!! GATEKEEPERS LAST EXILE!!!!! Anyway, could you tell us more about how the work environment of these studios are like?

Shia: Hmm for GONZO, it’s nice to see Dengeki Moeoh (a lolicon magazine) strewn over the place and everywhere you see, desks have all sorts of Chara goods ^^ but then , their working hours are horrible 3 shifts, nonstop like a production line :( . I also visited Xebec studios and they are much cleaner in terms of work environment. At GONZO, I met up with the director of LAST EXILE where he explained to us how the concept of it was born and the process it went through before appearing on TV.




Production line


GONZO Guy showing how  the LAST EXILE OP was made


Shia: Someone’s reference materials :p

tj han: What about conventions? Which did you go to and how were they like?

Shia
: Oh , you mean the Tokyo International Anime Festival 2005, it was great, I got to see stuff that was going to be aired in the upcoming seasons, and when I was there I was on a press pass ^^meaning I could take photos when no one else could :X  It’s interesting how the vendors would shoo away photographers without a pass, stating no pictures, and then welcome us inviting us profusely to take as many as we want when they see the press pass.

I went there with a few boss-level guys and they were very kind. While I acted as a tour guide and translator of sorts, they treated me to expensive food.


1:1 Ren from Erementar Gerad on show at TIAF 2005


At the TIAF with Eva chicks


With Azuma Kazuma at the Yakitate Japan booth

tj han: Let’s conclude this by talking about your aspirations. What are your personal future plans?

Shia: i would like to further my studies by going overseas to study computer science, but I would hope to continue work with ODEX in the future after my studies.

tj han: Ok thanks Shia for your time! Hope some of you here learnt something! Too bad there was a lot of details he couldn’t go into, but here’s wishing you best of luck in your career!


27 Responses to “Interview with Shia and a Peek into ODEX”  

  1. 1 Lianyl

    Shia = Tripeman

  2. 2 shiachan

    yay for interview :D

  3. 3 bj0rN`-

    interesting interview. TJ doesn’t seem to fail at looking for interesting stuffs to do.

  4. 4 ~Lost

    >>At GONZO, I met up with the director of LAST EXILE where he explained to us how the concept of it was born and the process it went through before appearing on TV.

    ZOMG :LOVE: FOR GONZO. Lucky you, Shia. :)

    Anyway.. I’m wondering.. what stand does ODEX take with regard to S’poreans downloading fansubs of Anime series they own the regional rights for? Any intentions or leanings towards taking individuals to court?

  5. 5 kwok

    shia, didn’t you give me that FMA/Naruto bag?

  6. 6 Lianyl

    The picture with the “EVA chicks” is very disturbing. Very.

  7. 7 Cyberpukish

    Yeah i hope odex bring in some good shit. I bought bakuretsu tenshi and i was abit disappointed with the subs (font and some translation). Hope they improve on that. Other than that their packaging is quite impressive and also the price is really ideal. I would like to buy original stuff at reasonable rates. I hope they finish mai hime quick cos they still have quite a few dvds to go….

  8. 8 DrmChsr0

    >>To me people who d/l fansubs are a lost cause

    Damn straight. I personally know a few I would like to kill in the name of restoring balance to humanity.

    I still buy the odd title or two, though.

  9. 9 Orochi

    From what I know, ODEX had rights to the following show (if the sales person from ODEX isn’t bragging of course ) :-

    1.MARS
    2.Bleach
    3.Erementar Gerald
    4.Lyrical Nanoha
    5.Fate/Stay Night
    6.Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu

    Seems to me they are buying everything in hope of striking gold. Suprise that they didn’t get AIR or the upcoming KyoAni remake of Kanon.

  10. 10 T_T|||

    I can’t imagine a dubbed Haruhi airing on Kids Central. The thought of a Luffy’s voice saying “SOS-dan!” gives me shivers.

  11. 11 ~Lost

    OMG THEY CAN PROSECUTE ME FOR PIRATING SHnY online. :S Anyhow I just realised that Mango-man is trierecting.

  12. 12 wyred

    wow, Shia is one lucky person.

    Hmmm… There’s a few stuff I’d like to ask about ODEX’s anime DVDs. Like, does ODEX censor every little ecchi scene like what ChuangYi does in their manga releases?

    How accurate are their translations?

    I think if Shia would be kind enough to tell us more and if the answers are cool, I may just stop downloading DVD rips and go for the local DVDs. I’m getting lazy to burn them.

  13. 13 wyred

    Then again, these questions may be sensitive and prone to legal issues, if possible, can we(or maybe just me alone) drop Shia an email?

  14. 14 Timecal?

    “T_T|||: I can’t imagine a dubbed Haruhi airing on Kids Central. The thought of a Luffy’s voice saying “SOS-dan!” gives me shivers.”

    VERY NO!

    I haven’t watched anything broadcasted in years… so I can only imagine what the dubbed Luffy’s voice would sound like… T_T||| YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN! VERY VERY NO!

  15. 15 ~Lost

    >>wryed: How accurate are their translations?

    This wont exactly answer your question, but…

    Did you watch the Scrapped Princess run on ArtsCentral some months ago? I really hope that wasnt subbed by ODEX, because the some of translations were hilarious and it really detracted from the show. Even the subtitles of the VCD Box Volumes (which I’m sure were from ODEX) were just only slightly better - someparts in the middle of the series were hard to get because of the convoluted and literal translation. Other negatives: bad grammar and sentence structure; I dont think the subbers had good grasp of english. No where near the kind of quality I could have got from a FANsub.

    I only hope it has improved. ^^’

  16. 16 tj_han

    I don’t know if it has improved but the only ODEX thing I bought is Azumanga Daioh and I still ended up watching the fansubs. VCD quality, lack of cultural translations mainly.

    And Lost, I would think it was subbed by ODEX. There’s a lot of ODEX and CY bashing but personally, I do think CY is miles ahead of ODEX.

  17. 17 Orochi

    If ODEX had the skills, connections and guts, they would have licensed AIR for release on local R-3 DVDs.

    That was anime animations at it’s peak that even the compression went wrong on R2-JP DVD and have to warrant an upcoming re-release on BLU-Ray Disc.

    Since I don’t see it, I suppose ODEX still had a long way to go.

  18. 18 tj_han

    Seriously Orochi, if I was a business man, even I’ll never do that. There is just no viable consumer base that can support this.

    Here in Singapore, people are used to VCDs and many of them don’t even own a DVD player. They favour cost over quality because they have yet to see true quality.

    How many hardcore fans of AIR are there here? How many of them will buy? I would say a small proportion of anime fans here are AIR fans.

    There is a difference between suicide for the sake of anime love and striking a balance. It’s not “guts” to make poor decisions for the sake of a hobby.

  19. 19 ~Lost

    Btw Orochi, how reliable is the information you got about SHnY being licensed in Sinagpore? Any link to official announcement? I cant find anything on it on ODEX’s page.

  20. 20 wyred

    Wow, I didn’t know ODEX had bad translators.

    I do agree that CY has good translations.

    The 2 things that keep me from buying local anime VCDs and DVDs are censorship and translation accuracy. Until then, I guess I’ll have to continue and get them via “other means”. ( >_

  21. 21 Orochi

    I work at the HQ of one of the major retailer of ODEX products.

    One of their sales person just drop by this week, demonstrating a new way of promoting their videos via flat screen HD-TV through the DVD Rip on their micro HDD.

    We talk about some of their upcoming releases and I ask him about Suzumiya Haruhi and he said “Ya, we got that. But we can only release it next year.”

    The list I’ve listed suppose to be a secret between suppiler and retailer but what the hell, I suppose I can talk about this online on the accounts of anonymity.

  22. 22 ~Lost

    Lol.. you dont mind if we discuss it on Animesuki’s forums do you? :heh: :D Thats interesting. Wonder why they could only release it next year.

  23. 23 AsouKai

    The subbing of Scrapped Princess on Arts Central a while back was so terribly done that I personally consider it a failure because not only did it confuse the audience, it also got to a point where not much could be understood unless you had already watched Scrapped Princess before. Thankfully I did.

    Dubbing-wise… let’s not go anywhere near that.

    I’m not a supporter of Odex, I never will be, I’d rather import the dvds from the US. But hey, I’m learning Japanese now, so I’ll import the raw dvds from Japan when I’m good to go.

    Forget it Odex, you’re not gonna earn a single penny from me.

  24. 24 Orochi

    > ~Lost
    >>Wonder why they could only release it next year.

    Simple, Kadokawa does not want their Otaku market to reverese import. It’s not everyday that you get a mega hit like Suzumiya where they can milk the Otakus as they see fit. You’ll be amaze how those 2ch vippers are at getting information.

    > tj_han

    >>There is a difference between suicide for the sake of anime love and striking a balance. It’s not “guts” to make poor decisions for the sake of a hobby.

    If ODEX can afford to promote their vids using a flatscreen HDTV (abeit a small one), I don’t see how they can’t license AIR. Just imagine, how beautiful the 1st Ep of AIR on HDTV looks it. I seen the HDTV Rip and believe me, it’s ART. People will be suckered into buy it.

    Besides, they mentioned they got Suzumiya which is very niched in itself, so why not AIR.

  25. 25 Cyberpukish

    Bakuretsu does not seem to be censored. NC16 tag

  26. 26 tj_han

    Promoting their wares with a HDTV is still marketing costs. With this, they can in theory boost the sales of any show they pick. If they wanted to, they surely have the capital to do what you want them to. But the question is, will it benefit them financially? Or will the money be better spent licensing more stuff, or on advertising?

    I don’t see how pumping resources into a premium DVD market here is going to be successful when they are wellknown for having bad subtitles, Singaporeans are used to VCDs (Japan skipped VCDs completely, going straight to DVDs) and there just aren’t enough paying anime fans around.

    It’s pretty obvious the real hardcore fans here all download their anime. ODEX aims their wares at the medium to newbie level anime lover and this doesn’t include any of us here probably. Perhaps if they actually bother improving their quality people’ll buy but surely there is some factor involved.

    To hazard a guess, I would say they want to keep costs very low, so they outsource/take translations from elsewhere.

    Suzumiya may be niche compared to Seed, but it’s still mega popular compared to AIR. And just getting the license means nothing since they get a lot of other licenses.

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