This article originally ran in the April 2015 issue of AVN magazine. Click here to see the issue online.
With interest in authentic Far Eastern adult productions on the rise, thanks in part to studios such as Third World Media and Girlfriends Films (which recently took over U.S. distribution for Japanese adult studio Jav1 Models), DMM.com subsidiary R18.com is looking to expand its market share in the West. Since the site went live in May 2014, R18.com has grown to become the largest English library of Japanese Adult Videos (JAV) on the Internet, with more than 200,000 movies available for VOD via streaming and downloading, far surpassing other rival JAV sites, with the U.S. and Canada being its largest market.
In January, R18.com took booth space at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) held in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, bringing along two of the site’s most popular JAV models, Anri Okita and Hitomi Tanaka.
According to Alain Garcia Bariel, manager of the overseas division for Tokyo-based DMM.com (the parent company that owns and operates R18.com),the website’s presence at AEE was a success. “We [definitely] got the attention that we expected during the AEE,” Bariel said. “We got more than 40,000 loops in Vine, 1,300 new followers on Twitter and 300 likes on Facebook. We got a lot of media attention and we hope to bring more Japanese actresses from Japan next year.
“Our first priority right now is to release the site with the best experience for mobile devices. After that we are planning to implement all the services we already offer in Japan to R18.com (cams, VR, online games, pay per minute, etc).”
The following are edited excerpts from an interview conducted with Bariel at the 2015 AEE.
How long has the website been in business?
We started 15 years ago. The [main] Japanese site is called DMM.com. That’s another site where we have POV, monthly subscriptions, hentai manga, hentai anime, that kind of stuff. Two years ago I joined DMM.com to expand the business overseas. So we work on the site in English designed by foreigners for people who like Japanese porn. We took the same content—so the content is the same, all produced in Japan but selling it overseas—and we released the site, R18.com, in May of last year. So we’re not even one year [with] the English site. The Japanese site has been up for 15 years.
How big is the network? Do you have sizable competition from other JAV studios or are they part of the DMM.com network such as LadyXLady or Madonna?
You mentioned Madonna, we own Madonna. We own 54 producing companies in Japan. So we own almost the whole market in Japan.
So in Japan you are seen as the major JAV company?
Yes. All these producing companies, we own them.
Have you found in your research that there are also many Americans who enjoy watching authentic JAV?
We have found that in America there is a lot of interest in Japanese porn. Other countries that have a lot of interests are Germany and France. They are more into the hentai, anime, manga—that kind of stuff—but they are into Japanese [porn].
What were the goals for R18.com coming into this expo and what are the goals you have for 2015?
Our goal coming here was to show the customers that we are a legitimate site and we are here for them, and to show our brand here for everybody because we have only been around for less than a year. For this coming year we plan to release some other services. The Japanese site we have many services and the English site for now it’s POV, monthly subscriptions and manga. So we plan to get all the services we have in Japan and slowly put everything into the English side.
Americans may not realize that Japanese porn covers the genitals of its performers with a mosaic. Will there be an American version without the mosaic or will it all come with mosaic?
No, it’s going to be the Japanese version with the mosaic. The thing is we do porn with porn stars; we don’t do it with street girls, usually. In Japan the law is we have to put the mosaic. So what we offer is, yes, we have mosaic, but if you want to see a porn star, that’s who you are watching. There are many Japanese sites that have non-mosaic but they are usually [using] street girls. They are not porn stars because porn stars are not going to do the un-mosaic [films]. If they go overseas and do un-mosaic, when they come back to Japan the producers don’t want to work with them.
So you’re saying for example, if a JAV girl comes to America and shoots porn here she can never film in Japan again?
Usually that’s what will happen. There are some exceptions. And it’s just because in Japan we have the mosaic versions and overseas will have un-mosaic. So people will start buying the un-mosaic ones. Producers will be like, “Why would I film her with mosaic if she already has un-mosaic scenes? People are going to buy that version.”
The mosaic, even though it’s the law, also adds a little bit of mystery.
Yes. Overseas there is a lot of zooming of the genitals and obviously in Japan there’s not; otherwise, the whole screen would be blurred. The way films are shot, there’s more story in the film.
Who are some of your most popular girls on the site?
Julia, she’s one of our girls. Hitomi Tanaka is here, she’s also selling really well, and Anri Okita is here, and she’s also selling really well. And then we have Akari Asagiri, she’s selling very well also. So these are some girls that are selling really well.
Can you tell us more about Anri Okita and Hitomi Tanaka, the two performers you brought to AEE in January?
Both of them are really big in Japan. Anri I think started four, five years ago. Hitomi has been a performer longer. Hitomi actually does some work overseas; that’s why she’s more popular than Anri.
Can you go into more detail the difference between American and Japanese porn?
Japanese guys don’t like to watch the fit guys. In American porn you see fit guys, muscle guys in the porn movies. Usually in Japan there are more fat guys and they don’t show the fit guys because Japanese guys don’t like to see the guy. So they feel uncomfortable watching the fit guy, and they’re kind of jealous. So if they put a regular guy or a fat guy they feel more like, “OK, the fat guy can have the girl and I can have her also.” The other way if it’s a very fit guy fucking a very beautiful girl, Japanese guys will think he’s fucking her because he’s very fit. So that’s one of the differences. The other difference will be, in Japan usually the man is the one controlling the situation, not the girl. They don’t like the girl to be aggressive so all the initiative has to come from the guy.
What else would you like the American consumers to come away with knowing about R18.com?
The very important thing is that we work with porn stars. We are very big in Japan so we have the biggest catalog of all Japanese porn, more than 200,000 movies and its full movies, not scenes. Every month we release around 2,000 titles so it’s a very big site. So we have all the genres you want, whatever your interests are.
Visit R18.com or follow on Twitter: @R18dotcom. Above, Anri Okita and Hitomi Tanaka at AEE; photo by PictureBoi/EMMReport.com