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Danika Harrod Will Get You To Know Crunchyroll Manga’s Name

Posted on the 19 October 2014 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

Danika Harrod Will Get You To Know Crunchyroll Manga’s Name

I easily admit it would be kind of weird if I was able to interview Tiffany at NYCC, but somehow not Danika when the reason Crunchyroll was there in the first place was because they have their manga service up and running. But no worries, as I did manage to talk to the Manga Brand Manager at Crunchyroll without any issues!

Danika Harrod

Danika Harrod was working as an accountant when the opportunity to work at Crunchyroll popped up. After she joined last year, she soon was tasked to be Manga Brand Manager once the service started up last Oct, where she’s had to deal with familiar problems (working with JP, sending them numbers, etc), while also encountering new ones (the relationship with US publishers and their titles going up on Crunchyroll). Needless to say, she’s had some things to learn while attempting to help foster a site with legal, digital manga. I asked her about a bit of that and how she even got into this medium in the first place.

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Organization ASG: Since you have videos up on Youtube of you singing, did you want to become a singer when you were growing up or did you really imagine working for a company with a major influence on anime and anime fandom?

Danika Harrod: When I was younger I have to admit I definitely did want to be a singer, it was a big dream of mine! Working for Crunchyroll has been another dream, but I never even imagined I could work in the anime industry so the fact that I was able to get a job working for Crunchyroll has been a dream come true as well.

OASG: How did you learn about anime and manga, and how did you come to love both of them?

Danika: When I was really really young, I had a Super Nintendo, my dad brought me Zelda, he got me into Studio Ghibli films when I was about 4 or 5 years old, and he’s super into sci-fi and super into anime so it kind of just sprouted from there. My whole family are big anime and manga fans, and I’ve just grown to appreciate Japanese culture through my parents.

OASG: What’s your general role as manga brand manager at Crunchyroll? 

Danika: So what I do as a brand manager is I interface directly with publishers on content, contests, and promoting their titles. I also do all the marketing for Crunchyroll Manga, I help our licensor in Japan with content acquisition so I make lists every month of titles that people want to see on the site, I…there’s so much that I do that I always lose track! Um, I work on reporting so all analytics that go to publishers, I take care of that, I work on creating ads for the site to boost the knowledge of Crunchyroll manga because not a ton of people know about it yet. I research a ton, so I spend a huge part of my day researching manga and what’s popular…through multiple means.

And yeah, that’s about it, I just do a ton of manga stuff. *laughs*

OASG: Can you elaborate a little bit on the analytics part? Like you send demographics of who’s reading and stuff?

Danika: So numbers are extremely important to publishers, they always wanna know who’s reading their content, who’s watching their videos, how old are they, where do they live…they wanna know the nitty gritty so I give them everything that I can give them. Unfortunately I can’t disclose all the information that I give to the publishers but numbers are very important so manga page views are super important, and I actually look at those every day, just to make sure that we’re kind of going in the right direction, growing — slowly but surely — and I just relay all that information to the publishers.

OASG: What would you say has been the biggest change regarding Crunchyroll manga compared to when it started in October last year?

Danika: So when it started in October it was a team of two people; it was one developer and one licensor in Japan. We had no marketing power behind it, and when I was brought onto the team back in March, we made the executive decision to wait until we had a better functioning mobile app because that’s kind of the way people are reading manga digitally these days, it’s on their phones. So once the manga app was revamped, I started heavily marketing Crunchyroll manga, so that’s kind of how it’s changed. We’ve also been acquiring content faster, so that’s something that’s changed, mainly like the marketing and just getting people in the know, because no one knew about it before. *laughs*

OASG: Uh, even despite it being Crunchyroll…?

Danika: Even though it has the Crunchyroll name behind it a lot of people even now don’t know Crunchyroll has manga. They don’t even know we have a store or that we have J-Dramas, so they kinda just know us as an anime company. We’re working on letting people know everything we have to offer.

OASG: What’s been the biggest challenge of working with Japanese publishers on Crunchyroll manga?

Danika: The biggest challenge is…well I love all of them, I love everybody I work with in Japan, and they are super awesome. The time difference is obviously challenging, I usually am kind of on Japan time — I’m in the office around 10AM, and I usually don’t stop working until 11PM, just because prime time for them is 6PM our time, or PST. Another challenging thing is just kind of helping them understand that people in the US want to read these titles because a lot of the times publishers will be like, “Well, how do we know that this title will do well in the US, how do we know Crunchyroll will make this title popular?” and it’s kind of hard convincing them that that title’s going to do well.

OASG: What’s the biggest challenge of working with US publishers, in light of some certain titles going up on Crunchyroll like Arpeggio, Ajin, Biscuit Hammer, which are published by other companies?

Danika: So some of the challenges I’m actually pretty new to experiencing these things, but yeah as most people know, there was a recent issue with Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer. Seven Seas was not aware that we were gonna be publishing the title digitally. Unfortunately it’s not our position to let them know that we’re getting a title, it would ultimately be the publisher’s decision. So Shonen Gahosha, I didn’t know…see, I don’t do the licensing, so I don’t know any of the nitty gritty details, but I know that unfortunately it’s not our place to let a print publisher know when we’re going to be getting a title digitally. I would love to work with them, and same with Vertical for Ajin. Ajin is one of my favorite titles on Crunchyroll manga, so I would love to work with both Vertical and Seven Seas, or any other print publishers, like Kodansha USA, on helping sell their print manga, doing like daily deals in our store is an option, I can help promote and…yeah I would love to work with everybody, so we should all be working together because we’re all trying to do the same thing, we’re all trying to bring manga to the US for people to read legally.

OASG: Don’t you guys have some relationship with Kodansha USA? Because Attack on Titan, Seven Deadly Sins, etc, is on the site…

Danika: We don’t actually have a really working relationship with Kodansha USA, we have a really good relationship with Kodansha in Japan. However when a title goes to print with Kodansha USA that volume is pulled from Crunchyroll so hopefully one day we can make it so we can keep that stuff on the site and just help promote the print titles. Our digital sales don’t affect print sales, and I feel like that’s where the confusion comes in.

Danika Harrod

OASG: Since you talked about licensing that would mean Robert Newman’s on your staff. How has he helped out, from forming connections with the Japanese publishers, from his time at JManga, grow content on the site?

Danika: So Robert Newman is the manga licensor working in our Tokyo office and he has been doing an amazing job. He was working at JManga previously so he definitely does have relationships with publishers that had content up on JManga. We have good relationships with a bunch of publishers — Futabasha, Kodansha, Shonen Gahosha and Robert’s just…Robert’s like a really amazing people person, so he’s like nicer than I am and he’s really really super awesome and he’s doing a great job licensing so we do have some pretty high goals that we’ve set for ourselves and I think that, with Robert’s help and his hard work and dedication we will definitely be able to reach those.

OASG: What has surprised you about the fandom, from working in the industry instead of seeing it from a fan’s perspective?

Danika: So before I worked at Crunchyroll I watched anime on Crunchyroll for a long time, but when it comes to manga I honestly…I was a kid and I didn’t know what the difference between legal and illegal was.

OASG: You’re weren’t alone. 

Danika: Yeah yeah I know, I’m not alone, and a lot of people still don’t know so that’s part of the reason why Crunchyroll manga exists. We want to give people an alternative and we want people to read manga legally but…it’s crazy being inside the industry and seeing things from the inside and how things work and seeing all the hard work that goes into it, because I think a big misconception that people have is that we just get content on our site and it’s easy work, or we’re lucky, or we don’t work hard to get these titles, but it’s a lot of hard work and when we get a title we’re in the office jumping for joy. So that’s definitely the biggest thing that’s been a surprise to me, I had no idea how hard things were, I had no idea that there were legal options for certain things, and back in the day I didn’t even know that anime freak was like, a pirate site because you know I had no idea! But now I know and yeah, it’s been really rewarding for sure.

OASG: Finally, what would you say Crunchyroll manga’s goal regarding making manga available legally online? What do you think the future holds for the platform?

Danika: Crunchyroll manga is definitely growing. Do I ever see us being like a huge part of the Crunchyroll name? Not really. I think we’re just an added benefit to Crunchyroll’s already amazing service, but I do think that we can grow and be one of the top legal places to get content digitally. I support digital and print distributors, and I still have piles and piles of manga that I have no room for, and I keep buying print volumes and I read manga digitally, I read manga on Crunchyroll, Yen Press, Digital Manga, I read it everywhere, and so I kind of think that the digital manga industry’s growing, I think the print industry will continue to grow, and my hope for the future is that Crunchyroll manga can just bring amazing content to people legally.


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