What Is It?
Okamoto Kitchen is an animated web series, which follows the adventures of Haru Umesaki: A girl from Japan, who was drawn to the United States by her love of gaming, anime, and a certain boy. One thing leads to another, which leads Haru to find employment with the Okamoto Kitchen food truck.
Through the series, Haru, her dog Honey, master cook Chizuru, and the hapless Mickey work tirelessly to feed the masses. It won’t be an easy gig, though, as the food truck life is a competitive one, packed with rivals of all sorts. Teams made up of cutthroat yakuza, perky idols, and more await the crew, as they fight their hardest to bring the very best bites to Los Angeles.
Kickstarter Pitch Video
Notable Reward Tiers
- $3: Wallpaper of main character Haru Umesaki by Takuya Saito
- $15: Digital copy of Okamoto Kitchen Episode 0 and a “Special Thanks” mention on the Okamoto Kitchen website, plus all previous rewards
- $30: Okamoto Kitchen poster, keychain, or a download of the theme song, plus all previous rewards
- $60: Okamoto Kitchen T-shirt, plus all previous rewards
- $100: Pack of keychains and a coupon for a “Nom Bomb” sandwich at the Okamoto Kitchen food truck, plus all previous rewards
- $150: Okamoto Kitchen artbook and a shout-out in the show, plus all previous rewards
- $300: Official Haru Umesaki figure
- $750: Haru and Honey plushies, “Thank You” mention in episode credits, and a print signed by Takuya Saito, plus all previous rewards
- $1,800: Appear in the show, plus all previous rewards (Limited 10)
- $2,000: Signed shikishi by Takuya Saito and a color illustration, plus all previous rewards (Limited 10)
- $4,000: Producer credit, plus all previous rewards (Limited 10)
- $7,000: Design a food truck, custom art by Takuya Saito, invite to a catering event / Meet & Greet with Cristina Vee, plus all previous rewards (Limited 5)
- $9,900: Invite to join Okamoto Kitchen’s team on a shift, create a background character or food truck, and any reward $4000 and lower (Limited 2)
Notable Stretch Goals
- $98,000: Increase episode count to 24
- $150,000: Increase episode length to 8-10 minutes per episode
- $340,000: Produce a 22-minute OVA pilot episode
Why Profile This Title?
On a financial level, Okamoto Kitchen is a title that has both a solid team behind it, and a strong overall footing. The Okamoto Kitchen food service business has been in operation since 2015, and continually posts solid results, through both the food truck and its catering business. The main goal is reasonable, and the stretch goals ramp up appropriately.
On a professional level, the project’s involvement of Takuya Saito and Cristina Vee is nothing to scoff at.
Saito is a true veteran in the industry, whose list of credits include iconic works like Macross Zero, Outlaw Star, and Reideen. His unique sense of style certainly bleeds into the overall production, and his advice as a creator will be invaluable to the project.
Cristina Vee, who is working as a voice director and as the voice of Haru, is a true superstar within the greater western industry. Her directorial work on Skip Beat! was nothing short of sublime, and her list of influential roles is nothing short of staggering. Whether she’s playing as Sailor Mars, Digimon Adventure tri.‘s Meiko, Fate/stay night‘s Sakura Matou, or any of her other roles, Vee stands a talent of the highest caliber within the industry.
More than that, though, the group’s already delivered a strong proof-of-concept to the masses with a five-minute “episode 0” video (below). The short offers a brief example of what backers can expect from the series, and sets up a strong message of confidence that can be felt through the rest of the campaign.
With these factors in mind, we’re happy to give the Okamoto Kitchen Kickstarter a full recommendation.
What gave you the idea to produce the Okamoto Kitchen animated series?
From the very beginning stages of planning the truck and the brand in general, we’ve envisioned creating a story for Haru and Honey but we really wanted to see how things progressed for the first few years. Back then we had certain ideas about how things might go but they have greatly changed and been influenced through the journey we experienced running the real life Okamoto Kitchen Food Trucks. From the outside, the industry might not seem like anything more than trucks opening their service doors and selling food but in reality it’s a pretty chaotic and cutthroat business. We’ve had some good things happen as well as many bad things, both of which helped develop the story for Haru, the other characters and food truck teams.
What led you and Saito-san to come together for the project? How did you come up with the idea for Haru?
The idea for Haru came about when coming up with the concept for the original Okamoto Kitchen Food Truck. The direction was clear that we were shooting for a design reminiscent of an Itasha but in addition to the design, I felt we needed a strong mascot to represent our brand that that ended up being Haru Umesaki. I had originally met Saito san through a work colleague who recommended him after I told her about the project I was working on. Saito and I initially spoke on Skype and after the idea and concept was thoroughly discussed, Saito sent us a few roughs and the moment I saw them, I knew we had the right person for the job.
What do you feel, as vets of the food truck game, is the biggest asset you can bring to an animated series?
Something truly unique and fun which fits the parameters of a legitimate anime series. In anime, subject matter can be virtually anything (from mahjong to basketball) and it’s really about the writing, story and execution. In terms of what we’ve learned through the food truck biz, I can say that some of the other food truck teams and experiences that Haru has are influenced by real life people and occurrences however awful and unrealistic they might sound. Naturally we don’t want to create anything sad or depressing we’ve adapted parts in a fun and lighthearted way.
How long has the team been working on getting everything set for the Kickstarter, from start to today? How much planning has gone into this that people typically don’t get to see?
The story itself has been slowly developing since we started the first truck in 2015 but actual production of the artwork and characters started around February 2018. Since the primary income for our business is from the trucks, we started with the char/story development on the side in our spare time and ramped up quite a bit towards the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2018 when we started creating episode 0.
For the Kickstarter, we’ve planned out as much as we could based on recommendations from others but it turns out, we’re not very good at begging for money! LOL. Regardless, we’re going to try our best and hopefully enough people will be interested to help us reach our funding goal!
What would you say is the biggest challenge when working in the Kickstarter/crowdfunding framework so far?
We are a small, family owned local business with very little history so clearly the toughest part for us is reach. I feel we’ve done a good job with the brand for the time we’ve been around but many people outside of Los Angeles still haven’t heard about us. It’s sort of a catch 22 as a successful KS project would surely help us grow Okamoto Kitchen outside Los Angeles but to actually get funded properly we need the help of people outside LA.
If the project is funded, where would you like to see Okamoto Kitchen’s animated series in two years? Five?
We wrote the entire first season as a 12 episode, 20-minute series so even from that we’ve got more than enough content to create the 10 part series of 3-5 min webtoons as described in the initial goal. Naturally, we’d love to make more episodes afterwards at least to the point where we can share the completed first season story. We’ve also got soooooo many more ideas for season 2 that we’d like to make happen but more than anything, we’d really just love to share what we’re created so far and see how people react.
Following that line of thought, what would you say is your biggest challenge, day one, everything funded? Biggest opportunity?
I’ve been doing production all my life and we have a fantastic team of skilled individuals. Honestly we just need the GO and the rest is going to be the fun part. ;)
Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers, and to potential backers out there?
Yes. If you have any rich uncles that are into anime, please tell them that we have JUST the project for them to have a look at. J/k :P
In all seriousness, thank you all for supporting us. Okamoto Kitchen would not exist without your love and support!