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Sun, 10/01/2023 - 08:48
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Melting pot of cultures makes Malaysia the perfect spot for Japan’s designer school to expand

By M.Saraswathi

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 (Bernama) -- As a melting pot of various religions and cultures, Malaysia emerged as the perfect location for Japan’s Nippon Designers School (NDS), which offers courses in Manga illustration and 3D animation, to open its first branch outside of Japan.

“It is important to teach international perspectives to our students and Malaysia seems to be the perfect location due to its diversity, which is important for the creative industry,” IRFIGO Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Song Songryol said.

The school, founded in Shibuya Tokyo in 1965, has over 50 years of experience in the creative field. Its second branch opened in 1968 in Fukuoka, Japan, while NDS Malaysia, managed by IRFIGO, is the third branch that opened its doors in 2022.

“This is the first and only Japanese vocational school in Malaysia. Our wish is to be a bridge between Malaysia and Japan. That is why we have Plus Japan in our syllabus in Malaysia and vice versa in Japan,” he said.

In an exclusive interview with Bernama, Song said Putrajaya’s good bilateral ties with other countries are also an added advantage to eventually make Malaysia a hub for its network of schools.

“Besides this, a lot of Japanese entertainment and creative-oriented companies have also made their way to Malaysia,” he said, citing, OLM Asia Sdn Bhd, which produces the hit animation series Pokémon, as one such company. Hence, it is a good business decision to open the school in Malaysia and build a whole spectrum of creative industries, he explained. 

Tapping on US$400 billion Anime market

IRFIGO general manager Takanori Tomita said NDS invested about RM10.5 million (US$1=RM4.695) to establish its school in Malaysia that currently offers two diploma courses, namely a Diploma in Manga Illustration and a Diploma in 3D Animation.

He said the Diploma in Manga Illustration had its first intake in September 2022 and has 90 students, while 3D Animation was started in June 2023 with 10 students. 

He said these courses are aimed at tapping into the global anime market, which is estimated to be US$400 billion and is expected to grow to US$550 billion in 2030, which includes sales of anime content as well as merchandise. 

Takanori pointed out that over the last 10 years, the works of more than 3,850 of its Tokyo school graduates have been published in magazines and won many contests. “Hence, there is a good market out there for our students,” he said.

College to university

Song said there have been demand and enquiries from across the region and as far as India to study in NDS Malaysia. “We also have enquiries from Japanese and Koreans based in Malaysia to study at our school.”

“However, Malaysia’s regulations don’t allow us to take in foreign students as yet. We need to operate for a minimum of three years and have its first batch of graduates before opening our doors to foreigners,” he added. 

Eventually, NDS Malaysia has plans to become a university and offer degree courses, he said.

For now, Malaysian students who wish to study further can do so at the two NDS in Japan as they can share credits, Song explained.