Top Peg – Anime School (New School)

19 09 2015

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     I called Grace in the morning of September 19th to talk about where she was on the 17th at the AsiaPOP Comicon (APCC) held at the World Trade Centre (WTC), since I couldn’t find her after 15 minutes upon entering the WTC.  Edith (Alstaire’s wife) told me then that Grace was with the Japanese investor of the Top Peg – Anime School. I really wanted to take a picture of her and the Japanese as it has been a few times in a month that the said investor kept on visiting her school at Las Piñas. That Thursday afternoon, I tried to contact her with a cellphone but there was no answer and I looked for her at the WTC, but I couldn’t find her. So I left the WTC that afternoon without saying goodbye to her.

     After a few explanations on Saturday over the phone, Grace told me she was going to an animation event, which I thought she was going back to the APCC, but she clarified that she’ll be at the SMX Convention Centre at around 2pm, as there was an event called the Best of Anime 2015, where the Top Peg – Anime School had a booth. She said the Japanese investor might be there, so I asked her if she could just take some pictures and write about the event for this blog. But after lunch, I changed my mind and I texted Grace where exactly is the event at the SMX Convention Centre and who is the contact person; so I went there to take pictures of the event, the booth and interview the contact person.

     The Best of Anime 2015 is held at the 3rd Floor of the SMX Convention Centre from September 19 to 20 from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. The event is on its 6th year and it has thousands of attendees to see and join the contests on cosplays, quickdraw, bands, Karaoke and other activities. In the last 3 years, professional Japanese cosplayers, singers and other artists were also invited to judge and perform in the event. Last year there were about 20,000 visitors to the event. I was already taking some pictures even before buying the entrance ticket. Grace was just a few minutes ahead of me before 2:00 pm where we met at the long line before the registration centre and paid the P300 entrance fee; I left about 3:30 pm. I was primarily at the event to interview about the school and it just so happens that the event was also very interesting. 

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     Upon entering the venue, we separated as Grace went to look for the Top Peg – Anime booth and I took some pictures of the crowd, events and booths. After a few minutes, I was already at the booth  where Grace followed a few minutes later. The contact person was Cynthia Z. Javier – she is the chief operating officer of the school and Mr. Tamiyo Hayasaki; they were not yet at the booth as they were still looking around the area. After a short while, they both arrived at the booth and we introduced ourselves. Since Mr. Hayasaki could not speak English, so I just asked Cynthia if it was alright if I just interview her. She agreed and we both went out of the area as the noise inside was very loud. 

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Cynthia Z. Javier (in Blue), Mr. Tamiyo Hayasaki (in Red), Grace (in Black)

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Inquirers about the Anime School

     Grace and Cynthia knew each other way back in 1988; they were both animators at Fil-Cartoons. Since then they went on their separate ways but found each other again in early 2011 as there was a plan to open an Anime School back then.  Grace was the one who introduced Cynthia to Mr. Hayasaki, as Grace knew that Cynthia is a big fan of anime. Mr. Hayasaki asked Cynthia in 2011 if there was a market for an anime school; Cynthia narrated that there are many local anime websites and Facebook sites with anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 members or viewers. Many anime groups are also located in the provincial urban areas in the Visayas and Mindanao area. Cynthia observed the growing interest of young Filipinos in anime. Even if the anime is not known, they will make it known. What attracts the young ones is the story, as it it not predictable; the personality of the character as it is closer to their own personality and the interesting design and costume of the anime. There is also a lot of variation of the of the story and design concept. 

     The school was to be located at somewhere in Buendia Avenue in Makati City and there were already floor plans for the school. Mr. Hayasaki and two other Japanese investors were the backers of the school but for some reason, the two other investors changed their minds and went on to other businesses. Mr. Hayasaki kept on the dream, as he believed in the potential of the Filipino and many are interested in anime. In 2014 there was another delay as there was a need by the investors to see a huge population in the country who are interested in anime. They call it the net business, which is about 10% of the estimated gross population in the country who are interested in anime. A sample computation is if there are 10 million fans of anime, 1 million are the hard core fans or net business. 

     In 2015, many  of Mr. Hayasaki’s associates still support his vision, but they need a goal of millions of anime followers. In order to start the school, Mr. Hayasaki just used his own money to get the ball rolling. Through an interpreter, Mr. Hayasaki said that he is from Tokyo, and has a travel business and he set up the school as he wants to introduce Japanese culture and manners. He is also a member of a Japan manga association. 

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Erika Padua (Interpreter), Mr. Hayasaki

     The Top Peg – Anime School is just an affiliate or more like a franchise of Top Peg Animation Institute, since the name of Top Peg is already quite known. The school is the 1st Japanese anime school in the country with manga and Nihongo courses. The basic school course will start on November 3, 2015 and end on February 26, 2016. The school will accept applicants from 17 years old to 40 years old. All applicants will be assessed with a short drawing exam. The school will accept applicants on October 1, 2015. The following basic courses are:

  1. Basic Drawing for Beginners – No drawing background needed – P35,000 tuition
  2. Basic Manga – Some drawing skills needed but Manga experience not necessary – P30,000 tuition
  3. Basic Anime – Some drawing skills needed but anime experience not necessary – P30,000 tuition
  4. All drawing and animation courses is packaged with basic Nihongo – read and write Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji
  5. Nihongo Classes Only – P13,000

   Top Peg -Anime School will offer Saturday classes only if there are solid enrollees for this day. Email: animetoppegschool@gmail.com with full name and contact details to be included in this class.

     The target of the school is 100 students for the 3 basic courses. There are currently  about 10 staff of the school. Cynthia Z. Javier is the former chairperson if iAcademy handling the BS Animation Program. The Manga instructor has done projects from Japan, the language instructor is an N2 level passer with experience of 7 years living in Japan and the animator instructor has worked with Toei Philippines for more than 15 years. 

     One of the goals of the school is to open animation job opportunities for Filipinos in Japan. It is very hard to get jobs in Japan, if one does not have any Japanese language skill. Mr. Hayasaki is also negotiating with other Japanese companies to outsource more Japanese projects as there is only one Japanese animation outsourcing company in the country – Toei Philippines. The school will also open up an exchange student program in the future. The internships, job opportunities and the exchange program will depend on the deals of Mr. Hayasaki. 

     Next year, the school plans to open a 1 year program to be registered with TESDA. The program will be divided into 3 modules, the basic, the intermediate and the advance classes. In the experience of animation instructors, a student with average skill improves in 1 year, those with innate skills it is about 6 months, those with no experience it is about 2 years. In Japan, animation courses are about 3 years. If the enrolment in Taguig City is going strong, the school plans to set up branches in the provincial areas also.

     Top Peg – Anime School is located at the 19th floor Jecoprime Building, 20th Drive McKinley Business Park, Bonifacio Global City Taguig, Metro Manila. Just look up the school’s Facebook site for the contact numbers, email and other details of the animation program. 

      Ms. Cynthia Z. Javier was not exaggerating when she said that anime is very popular in the country. Since another organizer will have a cosplay contest with events and foreign artists like in the Best of Anime 2015. The said event is called Cosplay Mania 2015 which will also be held at the SMX Convention Center on October 3 and 4. The Top Peg-Anime School will also have a booth on the said event, so any interested students can just drop by the school’s booth. 

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  cosplay activities

     I asked Grace to take some pictures during her stay at the Top Peg Anime booth last October 4, 2015. Since it was Sunday, the place was packed with Cosplayers and visitors. The school had about 6,000 flyers for October 3 and 4, but it ran out around 5 pm on October 4, and the venue closed about 9 pm. The situation was the same last September 20 and 21, they also had 6,000 flyers but it ran out before the festivities ended, so they had to just give out their calling cards. 

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