The wide range of potential applications for innovation via blockchain solutions spans across all industries. As a result, our interest is always piqued when we hear the term “blockchain,” and we anticipate a creative application to a mission near and dear to someone’s heart. We knew we had to interview BlockPunk‘s CEO and Co-founder Julian Lai-Hung when we heard about their recently announced partnership with Studio Mappa and Dai Nippon, as well as their release of the first tokenized anime film. We sat down with Julian to learn more about how BlockPunk is using blockchain to protect artists’ rights while also increasing merchandise access for devoted fans.
BitIRA: BlockPunk is striving to protect creative rights. What are the biggest vulnerabilities that it addresses? How are artists receiving your product?
Julian Lai-Hung: Pirate merchandise and illegal streaming is a big problem in the anime space. For a $20 billion global market, it’s also a significant potential loss for rights holders. By increasing the options for fans to purchase legitimately and directly from the source at a higher margin for creators than traditional routes, our platform is another option for creators to achieve independence and for fans to support the creators they love.
We launched the world’s first on-demand NFC crypto art print and the world’s first streaming-to-own anime movie last week at Anime Expo with 2 of Japan’s leading independent anime studios, Mappa and Arch, and the reaction so far has been great. We now hope to expand the number of independent creators we work with.
BitIRA: BlockPunk was also founded to make anime more accessible, globally, and overcome issues like supply chain interference with anime merchandise access. How does it achieve this?
Julian: By going directly to the studio and cutting out the middlemen, and by offering a global solution for any fan around the world to purchase and printing the merchandise on demand with our partner Dai Nippon Printing, we can achieve a more cost-efficient way of producing and shipping the prints with no inventory risk.
BitIRA: What are the biggest challenges BlockPunk has found in developing and promoting blockchain-based collectibles?
Julian: The first and perhaps biggest challenge is the poor image blockchain has due to the scams that surrounded the ICO boom. We are working with brands and IP that are loved and sacred to creators and fans and we have to ensure that our platform is a legitimate source of new revenues for creators and that the experience is a joyful one for fans by leveraging the positive elements of blockchain and decentralisation.
Secondly, since we are so early in the development of blockchain and Web 3.0 there are many hurdles in usability and UI that we have to overcome in order to create a good experience. We see this as a trade-off for being so early and innovative.
BitIRA: With recent news like last week’s release of Zombie Land Saga prints, other creators will be interested in partnering with BlockPunk. What should an artist expect this process to look like?
Julian: We license the IP in much the same way as any other merchandise deal, except that our channel includes a digital certificate of authenticity recorded on blockchain and we would also like to support payment by Ether crypto currency in addition to credit cards. We also need to ensure that the rights are global right off the bat in order to preserve the spirit of a borderless global fan community, so we do not currently support ring-fencing certain territories which is quite common in merch licensing.