Cybird is a company that specializes in Otome games. Otome games are story-based dating simulation games that are targeted towards the female audience. Throughout the course of the stories, players develop romantic relationships with the many characters the games offer.

I met with Yasmine from Cybird and she gave me some really great insight about Cybird, their customers and the future of the company.

Charlotte: Can you tell us about yourself and your role in the company?

Yasmine: Sure! Personally I’ve been living in Japan for nine-ish years and I started working at Cybird, I think at this point, about two years. I’m almost at my two year anniversary.  I came to work on our first Japanese historical game, “Destined to Love” that we still have out and now I am working on our newest game Ikemen Sengoku. I guess my job description is director. I’m in charge of general upkeep, numbers promotions, a number of different things.

Charlotte: So making sure everything runs smoothly?

Yasmine: Yeah making sure everything runs smoothly and efficiently.

Charlotte: Nice! Do you enjoy your job?

Yasmine: Yeah I do! It’s great! I mean, my coworkers are hot men. Sometimes I wish I can go back in time to my young, nerdy self and tell me that you get to continue doing what you love but you get to make things for other people. It’s really great and the job is really creative and that’s really important to me. It’s a lot of fun!

Charlotte: That sound incredibly awesome! Can you tell us about the company? What is it that Cybird does?

Yasmine: Yes. So Cybird, I think a lot of people know it as a mobile Otome game company and that is definitely what we are most known for but actually we do put out other applications. We have a soccer game, we also have a lot of different types of apps that you can search under our name but our biggest department are our romance simulation game department. So we are mostly known for our series the Ikemen series. Around 2013 is when we released our first Ikemen game Ikemen Oukyuu which most people know as Midnight Cinderella which was released on the flip phone. We kind of continued after that. Our next game was Ikemen Yakyokyuu which is Romeo and Juliet. We’ve also released that in English as Love, Lies and the Heist.

After that was Ikemen Bakumatsu and in 2015 we released Ikemen Sengoku which is our most popular Ikemen series in Japan. It’s super big, people love it.  We have a pretty nice cast like Kensho Ono. It’s been made into an anime and it’s going to be airing this month on the 12th and you can also watch it on Crunchyroll. They are 5 minute shorts; super cute. I’ve actually watched a few of them and they are really funny so I definitely recommend watching it!

Our newest game is Ikeman Vampire but that hasn’t come out yet but it will be out in August. The premise is that you are a girl who took a trip to France and you come across, if I remember correctly, a mysterious manner behind the Louvre and it houses, again, different historical people but this time  certain people from different times. For example, our first three routes are Mozart, Napoleon and Leonardo Da Vinci. But, the dark scret that they are holding is that they are all vampires.

And Napoleon is voiced by Shimazaki Nobunaga, who plays Haru in Free!.

Charlotte: Yeah I was going to say!

Yasmine: Yeah we actually have a lot of Free! voice actors in that! It’s pretty and it’s really sexy. Like REALLY sexy. It’s probably  our hottest game out there and we have different games that range from cute to sexy. So we have a lot going on.

Charlotte: On the whole sexy vs cute aspect, what are the company’s goals for it’s users?

Yasmine: Well the whole goal really is to give users the romantic experience that they wouldn’t normally get or maybe even they just want a special experience on their own through these apps. SO yes, there are some apps that are sexier but the core of it is getting that romantic connection between you and your man depending what route your on.

Charlotte: Yeah because we all know that this type of stuff doesn’t exist in real life

Yasmine: [LAUGHS] Well yeah you’re not necessarily going to be surrounded by a harem of sexy men who love you no matter what. So it’s giving that ideal to people.

Charlotte: My boyfriend tried Mystic Messenger and he started yelling, “Why are they talking to me at 2 in the morning?!”

Yasmine: [LAUGHS]

Charlotte: So what do you think is the appeal of otome games? Why do they keep getting made? And I think you may have already answered these questions but what do you think?

Yasmine: I think they’re really popular because of anime, really. There’s so much anime out there with cool looking dudes but when you watch anime anime, it’s not like you can pursue a relationship with him. And the series is going to focus on other characters and not just him. When you have an otome game, you can really zoom in and focus on your favorite guy and he can focus in on you. And even if you don’t want to view it as you in a relationship, you can still view it as a story starring him. I think it’s really appealing in that sense. And it’s clearly aimed at the things that girls like. There’s been a boom in cyber games where there are games for women and girls like seeing hot guys interacting.

Charlotte: Yes! Indeed we do.

Yasmine: I think particularly in Ikemen Sengoku, there’s lots of really fun relationships and interactions between each other and it doesn’t focus in on just your relationship but focuses in on the casts’ relationship with each other. And they are all hot men! It’s extremely entertaining.

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Charlotte: Being from Japan, and just mentioning how there’s been a boom in the ikemen and otome style games, do you think companies who specialize in moe games for men are taking notice? Like, hey we need need games for women.

Yasmine: Oh I definitely think so. There are a lot of companies that originally just release games for men with cute girls in it but they are definitely branching into the market and make games for girls. Actually, one of the most popular games for women is called Ensemble Stars!, an idol game. They actually originally started out with a game called Ensemble Girls which is a rhythm game, sort of like Love Live, and that was geared towards men but when they releases Ensemble Stars! which is basically a variation for women, it blew up and became one of the most popular games for girls.

And a lot of companies have been following en suit. And so a lot of times people say that the market of games geared towards women, it’s basically a Sengoku Era for those games and it’s not just about having hot guys and not just about having voices, it’s really about having the entire package. If you JUST have hot guys, you might not last.

Charlotte: Right. You need to have the full story-

Yasmine: You NEED to have the full story, the strong characters, a GOOD story-

Charlotte: Girls like that!

Yasmine: Girls LOVE that! Just from the amount of fanfiction girls write you know girls love stories, we like hot guys. There’s a lot there. We love beautiful art. So I think that it’s nice that there’s a lot coming out and from a developers perspective it is nerve-wracking because there is so much competition out there. Who is going to put out the new hit?

Charlotte: I absolutely love this and your passion but I have a really random question: do you guys take inspiration from shojo or yaoi comics?

Yasmine: Well the funny thing is that in our office we have a lot of shojo  magazines and the way it works for us is that we have writers who are assigned to us and a lot of those writers are big shojo manga fans who might be fans or they might be fans of romantic comedies; they get their inspiration from a lot of different places. And it’s a combination of the writers and those who develop the game, sometimes we call them planners, who plan events and discuss things like pushing certain characters. They will talk with the writers and put together the entire package .

Charlotte: That sounds awesome. What are your plans for after Anime Expo?

Yasmine: That might be a better question for our manager so I will get him on over.

Charlotte: That’s fine. While we wait, what are your plans for Anime Expo as a vendor?

Yasmine: This is our second year here and we are basically trying to get our name out there so more people know the Ikemen series and we are also trying to give out goods and sell merchandise for our games to our fans because we know they love them so much and we know this is a great place to do that. And as I am sure you can tell, we are trying to promote our new game Ikemen Sengoku. This entire booth is filled with Ikemen Sengoku stuff and it just came out a week ago so we have opportunities for fans to play it. So basically, we are just spreading the word.

Charlotte: You personally, what is your favorite theme you’ve put out?

Yasmine: Favorite game?

Charlotte: Sure. Favorite game or genre/theme that you’ve released.

Yasmine: I know I am absolutely biased but since joining Cybird I’ve always wanted to play Ikemen Sengoku app so this is a dream come true. I love the game. I’ve played it in Japanese and it is such a well-written game and super entertaining, the main character is hilarious and I think a lot of people are noticing that when they play it. My favorite character in the game is Nobunaga because I just REALLY have a problem with characters who are cocky and not entirely good. Nobunaga in a lot of stories has been portrayed as the villain and he’s somewhere in between that here. I love it. He’s one of my favorite character types.

Charlotte: Well that is all I really have. One final question is what has been your most popular game?

Yasmine: Well, Sengoku is our most popular in Japan, Midnight Cinderella has been our most popular in the United States. You can see a lot of fans over there posing with our standees. I think they love being treated like a princess; princess’s are very popular over here.

-Cybird manager in Ikemen cosplay appears at the booth-

Yasmine: Oh perfect timing! We have a question for you.

Charlotte: Oh wow! This is your manager? Hi, my name is Charlotte for Anime Ushi.

Manager: Hi, pleased to meet you.

Charlotte: What are your plans after Anime Expo?

Manager: Actually we have Japan Expo planned right after this, which is in France. But that’s not a booth, we just have a wall ad. After that, our Taiwanese company just told us that they will have an event in Taiwan and China in July and August. After that, we are considering in doing oversea events but have not decided. Regarding games, we plan to release more in English in the future.

-Manager thanks and walks away-

Charlotte: So your manager is really into the series.

Yasmine: Oh yes. He is all about cosplay and these games so he combines the two and that’s his job.

Charlotte: Absolutely amazing.

Charlotte: Well thank you so much Yasmine for meeting with me and I hope you have a very successful Anime Expo.

Yasmine: Oh no thank you for great questions and I hope you have a great show as well.