To anyone who has seen or heard about the Key15th Kickstarter or is aware of me in some other capacity:
I write to you today utterly dejected. This is not due to my cancellation of the Kickstarter, but rather due to my inability to have overlooked many minor issues which collectively misrepresented the project to many people. The very group which I was trying to benefit, the Key community, I feel that I have instead let down in a way I never thought possible. The worst part is, I only have my own incompetence to blame.
It is important, even necessary, that I provide you with full disclosure regarding every significant issue which has been brought to my attention over these past few days. I want this entire ordeal clarified and resolved as quickly as possible, and this is the best way I know to do so. I offer this of my own accord.
I’m going to present in the order of what I consider my most egregious faults down to those of lesser consequence. First I’ll begin with the mention of ‘The Grand X-Change Co.’ It was mentioned in one line, in parentheses. (‘The production crew is being provided by The Grand X-Change Co. based out of Cleveland, Ohio, USA.’) The GXC Co. is an entity controlled by myself scheduled to be incorporated at the end of the year. Use of the company’s name was inappropriate for several reasons: 1) that line gives the impression that the entity was already incorporated, 2) GXC will not be collecting revenue of any kind, and 3) the videographer(s) for the project would come from one or both of the following studios: BGM Group LLC. (group) & JRS Productions (individual), both based in northern Ohio, USA. Videographers from these studios generally perform local work & have shown an interest in subcontracting with GXC next year for long term projects. While BGM Group is larger and more experienced, having typically worked on smaller productions and local commercials, compensation & time constraints represented a potential issue. Justin Schultz of JRS Productions has limited professional experience but is multidisciplined and offered guaranteed availability for the duration of the production period. The incentive offered to these videographers/editors was that in exchange for their work on the production, they would receive production credits, airfare, sleeping arrangements, paid traveling expenses within Japan, and finally a food stipend. As these studios would be providing the large majority of the production equipment (as well as the associated transport risk), this arrangement represented significant savings regarding the cost of the production.
It was due to the uncertainty regarding which studio(s) might be ultimately be involved in the production that led me to use ‘The Grand X-Change Co.’ as the providers of the production team. In retrospect, this usage appears especially ignorant because it creates a sense of conflict of interest when there otherwise wouldn’t be any. Note: this is what happens when you write and proofread documents in the early hours of the morning. Generally, it’s a bad idea.
Next on my list of errors regards the reward types offered. The OPMs, the polo shirts, Little Busters! Vinyl, and the Memorial Score cannot be offered as they were not directly produced by the project. They were offered as a way to provide Key fans with a variety of interesting items in return for their support. I made an improper assumption that Kickstarter’s 48-hour verification period would identify me of any problems present with the rewards offered. Having identified the project as, “a fan organized effort”, once the project was approved, my estimation was that their rules regarding offered goods may be lax. This may be yet accurate; what didn’t occur to me is that by listing the rewards as such a fashion, people who glance over the project might assume an affiliation and choose to contribute. I am not an impulse buyer; as such, I should have put myself in that mindset when designing the rewards. Versions of the documentary, the arrangement album, and the t-shirt were all custom project rewards allowed by Kickstarter as well as under Key’s derivative works clause.
(Do recall that no monies were ever collected from any of the participants and that the Kickstarter was voluntarily
shut down due to concerns being raised about its legitimacy.)
Third, some felt it would be helpful to see the breakdown of costs for the project. That request seems wholly appropriate; the *estimated* costs of the Kickstarter were allocated as follows:
Amount Requested: $20,159
Room Expenses: $1,736 (3 adults, 16 nights)
Plane Tickets: $5,328 to $6,735 (3 Tickets, United, No Tax, CLE to KIX [Osaka], Jan 1st to Jan 17th), as of July, subject to price increases as the departure dates get closer
Food: $2,040 ($40 a day for 3 people)
Universal Train Passes: $1,833 (3 people, two week)
Additional Production Equipment: $1,253
MISC Expenditures / ‘Buffer’ Funds: $500
Cost of Rewards: $4,229 (Approximated at 30% of trip/editing expenditures)
Kickstarter Fees: $1,833 (Approximated at 10% of all other project costs)
All additional costs were to be borne by myself or additional funds raised by the Kickstarter.
Fourth, regarding the second Kickstarter update: when Takahiro Baba tweeted his concern about the project after being told of its suspicious nature, I considered how the situation could be approached. I chose to have a sense of optimism, believing that I could quickly respond, explain what my intentions were, and clear up any misunderstandings quickly. I even thought that I might be able to use the campaign as a way to quantify signs of enthusiasm from members of the Key community to suggest that there was a stronger potential for profitability in localizing Key games than what he might otherwise have thought. For those that may not be aware, one of the strongest sentiments (outside of gratitude) that fans submitted in their letters to the Key15th Anniversary Letter Project was to have the games officially localized; I too hold this sentiment, and felt that a unique opportunity was presented to convey fans’ feelings on the subject. Unfortunately, I am not particularly competent in Japanese and could not find a way to convey my thoughts without another’s assistance. (Thus is the problem many international Key fans face; only a very small percentage of these people know Japanese, so how could the studio or Visual Art’s possibly be expected to know of the substantial fandom expressed by those who are unable to communicate with them?) By the time I realized I would unable to find a translator to assist with my efforts, it was already too late for me to modify the Kickstarter update, making it almost seem like a mockery. Unable to communicate my intentions or those of fans, and with growing suspicion surrounding the documentary due to lacking information, the logical course of action seemed to be to shut down the project and evaluate everything people were now posting about on various social networks, blogs, etc.
Fifth, people chose to ask what locations would be traveled to. This information was intended to be shared with everyone as time went on; as of the last time I checked the document, there were 74 locations from Key works (and their respective anime adaptations) which were identified with a handful of other ‘bonus material’ locations which were on route. However, as it stands, the list is incomplete; I intended to map out several other locations I had identified over the coming weeks. Due to weather, unexpected closures, holidays, etc., not all of the locations were going to be covered, though it provided the project with flexibility going forward. (I’d still like to release the completed location list on Google Maps at a later time, however.)
Sixth, some people have mentioned that I should be ashamed for claiming other people’s credit for having claimed to have led the English localization projects for Clannad, Little Busters!, and Tomoyo After. I have never had any intention of taking credit for other people’s work. I oversaw and helped restart the VN Division at Doki for a time and organized for those projects to be continued by Doki from the prior project masters. As patches from Doki for Clannad & Little Busters! have not yet been released, some people feel that terminology is more appropriate than saying I ‘led’ them. To me, the terminology seems like a minor issue; I give all the credit in the world to the previous project leaders and contributors to these projects for having made the sacrifices necessary to spread Key’s beautiful stories to fans around the world. Early work on Clannad, Kanon, etc. was instrumental in fostering my interest in Key works, and I hold nothing but appreciation for having been exposed to it.
To those at Baka-Tsuki, including Velocity7 – Do not punish Key’s fans by preventing Doki from continuing their work on Clannad. The errors are my doing, not theirs; punishing either of them is senseless, especially since I haven’t been actively associated with Doki for some time. As Key fans who really believe in the message which underlines Key works, one of family, comradely, and friendship, I would hope that you would be willing to continue to accept an effort from those with the same values as yourselves.
While my errors have been careless, incompetent, foolish, and have led some to believe me to be a scam artist, I would actually like to thank those who called out these problems (though it would have been nice if I was contacted directly first so this ordeal could have been presented). While I had done preparation work on the project for months, I posted the Kickstarter up quickly and had grown complacent in my assumptions that I hadn’t made any glaring errors. I became overconfident; no one, not even I, would be stupid enough to knowingly put their reputation on the line with legitimate concerns present. I maintain that my intentions through every part of this process were purely honest, albeit poorly executed. I’ve made mistakes and will continue to reflect on the process I went through to make sure I never make the same mistakes again.
I mentioned on the Kickstarter page FAQ that I went through the platform to allow for open accountability. That’s exactly what I got; for this reason, I can be glad that the system worked. I would very much encourage someone to continue this effort if they are so inclined, as the early success of the project suggests that there is a demand for such a documentary to take place.
With that, I hope that any issues regarding this Kickstarter are hereby resolved. It’s not Key15th’s fault, it’s not Cloud668’s fault, and it’s not Doki’s or any other group’s fault. These issues were a result of my actions alone.
I don’t know if my words will reach whoever is reading this, but nonetheless, I offer my sincere apologies for anyone who may have been affected or adversely affected by the existence of this Kickstarter in any way. I tried to get this going in a limited timeframe, and that caused me to make careless errors and take shortcuts in my personal review process which I would never otherwise find acceptable. My intentions have always been to spread the joy of Key works with as many people as possible and to be a part of the vibrant community that has been fostered. I would love to continue to do so and sincerely hope I will not be ostracized for my errors. As those that know me can attest, I would never intentionally do something to harm the Key community.
This has been a very long few days. I need to rest. I wish everyone reading all the best.
- Clannad Man