Reemsborko details flurry of global partners for graphic novel IP Trese

Reemsborko, the UK agency specialising in cult and pop culture licensing from across the world, has secured a flurry of new partnerships for the best-selling graphic novel series, Trese.

In a run of new deals for the series publisher, Ablaze Publishing, the graphic novel IP now finds itself expanding its consumer products presence across categories including apparel and accessories, drinkware, wall decor, statues, and more.

Joining the licensing portfolio is the likes of Bioworld who has signed on for apparel and accessories for global distribution, Goodie Two Sleeves who will be delivering apparel and accessories to the North American market, Pyramid America who will delight North American audiences with its wall decor and drinkware, and Great Eastern Entertainment, signed on for multiple categories across North America.

They are joined by IndieGo Distribution who will deliver apparel to the European market, and Bedrock Collectables whose polyresin statues will be distributed worldwide.

Trese is set in a Manila where the mythical creatures of Filipino folklore live in hiding among humans. It follows the story of the hero Alexandra Trese as she battles with a criminal underworld run by malevolent supernatural beings. Seven volumes of the comic have so far been released in the Philippines and are now being steadily republished worldwide by ABLAZE. 

Reemsborko is the agent for all categories and territories. The property has become even more popular this year since the Season One Anime series started streaming on Netflix in July.

Comic book series Trese enters licensing arena with Reemsborko as Netflix series readies to land

Ablaze Publishing’s award-winning comic, Trese, is making its leap into the licensing arena, having appointed the pop culture licensing entity, Reemsborko as its global representative across all categories for merchandising.

The deal marks the latest addition to the portfolio for Reemsborko, founded by Max Arguile, who earlier this week welcomed the webcomic and clothing brand Zombie Makeout Club to its library of pop culture and fan-focused brands.

Created by writer Budjette Tan and the artist Kajo Baldisimo, Trese is set in Manila where the mythical creatures of Filipino folklore live in hiding among humans. The story follows the heroine Alexandra Trese as she battles with a criminal underworld run by malevolent supernatural beings.

The comic has seen seven volumes released within the Philippines to date, and are now being steadily republished worldwide by Ablaze.

Clothing is about to appear in the US courtesy of two apparel licensees and apparel is in discussion already in Europe. Reemsborko’s Max Arguile believes that the property is due to become ‘even more popular this year when the animated version starts on Netflix.’

He said: “Trese is phenomenal storytelling. Budjette and Kajo first learned of these mythical beasts as kids via bed-time stories from their parents. Once the Netflix series hits, we should already have product in the market for the fans.”

Rich Young, co-founder of Ablaze, said: “We are delighted to have Reemsborko on-board helping create a must-have range of merchandising for Trese. This is going to be great.”

Clothing brand and webcomic Zombie Makeout Club taps Reemsborko for global licensing expansion

The clothing brand and webcomic series, Zombie Makeout Club has tapped Max Arguile and Reemsborko to represent the brand globally across all product categories for merchandising.

The move has been made as Zombie Makeout Club looks to strengthen its licensing presence and build on the success of a portfolio of products that have already been selling well for the company via its online website over the past three years. The appointment of Reemsborko will see the brand cross-over into the bricks and mortar retail space.

In the US, Goodie Two Sleeves is already enjoying strong sales having recently launched at Hot Topic.

Max Arguile of Reemsborko, said: “I am very pleased to secure the rights to Zombie Makeout Club. Horror and animé are experiencing big surges in popularity right now. This style is bang on-trend, as we have seen with licenses like Junji Itô, (the apparel for which is currently on fire in the both the US and Australia and is now coming soon to Europe) so there is definitely scope for ZMC in the market.

“Peter Richardson is an amazing artist with an eye for edgy but commercial designs. This is going to be great.”

Peter Richardson, owner of Zombie Makeout Club, added: “Reemsborko has great in-roads into retail in all territories and solid relationships with key licensees that can deliver. We look forward to the growth and expansion of our brand and are particularly keen for this to be republished as a manga.”

The art of Hatsune Miku | The virtual pop sensation that’s selling out concerts, inspiring art projects, and growing a global licensing programme

Even by the standards of a generation that grew up on the animated band, Gorillaz or witnessed the explosion of the BT21 brand (a lifestyle brand comprising characters devised by members of the K-Pop brand BTS), Hatsune Miku presents an interesting concept.

Officially, Hatsune Miku is a Vocaloid software voicebank that has been developed by Crypton Future Media that takes on the appearance of a 16 year old singer designed in the style of the Japanese anime art form. To the legions of fans of Hatsune Miku across Japan and increasingly, the Western World, she is a virtual pop sensation.

Utilising Yamaha Corporation’s Vocaloid 2, Vocaloid 3, and Vocaloid 4 singing synthesizing technologies, Hatsune Miku has performed at sell-out concerts onstage as an animated projection with a definitive look that has led to a large scale licensing operation across Japan. And the appeal is spreading.

Most recently, this virtual pop-star was announced the first licensed partner for the Japanese restaurant Shoryu Ramen and its range of DIY Ramen Kits. The partnership marked the latest development for the brand’s move in on the UK market,and, while there is still some distance to go before its popularity hits the same notes as its Japanese reverence, the European licensing agency, Reemsborko is excited by the potential.

Here, catches up with Max Arguile, director of Reemsborko to learn more about Hatsune Miku’s global licensing plans and understand the deep passion that the virtual pop star’s audience has for the brand.

Hello Max, thanks for chatting. So, Hatsune Miku is an interesting concept. A vocal software package that takes on the shape of an anime 16 year old pop star. It sounds like a hard sell, but we’ve seen the extensive list of licensing partners signed to the brand already. It’s clear this brand works. But what drives it? What is it about Hatsune Miku that caught the audience attention?

It is interesting, and with Hatsune Miku, the fans are involved from the very beginning via the creative aspect of the property. Hatsune Miku and five other characters originate from a voice software package that allows you to generate a song from scratch. Using that software, fans have created music and video contents featuring the characters, and published them on the internet for other fans to enjoy. There are more than half a million of these fan-created videos that can be viewed online.

The fans also make a lot of artwork of Miku and friends, which is also uploaded. The whole thing adds up to a vibrant online community of Miku fans that sometimes don’t even have the chance to meet up in real life, like when the Miku Expos happen.

And what are these Miku Expos, because they sound fun?

Miku Expos are live tours, the last of which was in early 2020 – five dates starting with Brixton Academy in London, then France, Germany, Holland, and Spain. I went to the London date and was blown away by the ardour of the fans, many of whom (men and women) were in cosplay, dressed as Miku or one of the other characters.

The next day, keen for a chance to congregate once more, hundreds of them came to an in-store event at Westfield Shepherds Bush in order to meet up and contribute to a collaborative art project.

OK, let’s explore that a bit more… what do these collaborative art projects look like?

Alongside every Miku Expo, wherever possible, Crypton will organise a meet-up in the same town as the concert. This is advertised in advance and they will have the tour merchandise and other Miku merchandise on sale at the venue for perhaps two weeks in advance of the concert, culminating in a collaborative art project.

The venues can be a local comic shop, but in our case it was a Japanese restaurant/supermarket. The venue gets increased traffic in the lead up to the gig (the merch often sells out and needs to be replenished by the day of the concert) and on the activity day there can be 100 to 200 people that arrive and take part in the project.

It used to be old school felt tip pens and paper but in this case it was mostly digital. On arriving at the front of the queue, the fans were invited to download an app to their phone or tablet – this revealed black and white artwork. The first 50 people got an exclusive Miku stylus to use when doing the colouring. Once they had finished, they uploaded the artwork to a site to be shared with other fans. The venue had a hugely increased footfall on Sunday morning in January and they sold a lot of product in general, the fans loved being able to make Miku artwork together and just hang out.

So, art projects and cosplay events to one side, for the moment, what do you think Hatsune Miku is bringing to the licensing space? Why does it translate well for European audiences, and how does the licensing approach differ between the Japanese and the European markets?

Hatsune Miku is essentially, a fun property based around creativity. It has the loo and feel of anime, which is one of the biggest trends in licensing right now. Miku’s appeal is international, so is perfect for licensees with that distribution but for me it means I can also now talk to licensees in other territories that may only need to service their local market.

In Japan, this is a brand that is licensed on a very large scale, but internationally it still has some distance to go before reaching the same level. Although buyers can still be resistant to change and wary of something unfamiliar, once in-store, it always works. The reactions we’ve had from licensees once their product goes into retail just exceeds all expectations. Trademark has told that the brand has become one of the top selling properties in HMV, and it has sustained that popularity.

Given the brand’s roots and creation, is Hatsune Miku a good representation of the surge in popularity of anime and manga across the European markets?

Yes and no. Unlike most animé, there is no narrative content behind the brand – in that sense it is closer to Hello Kitty than traditional animé, but there is no committee that meets once a week and might get to review your submissions (but might not) so the approval process on Miku is much slicker.

The team at Crypton are not just the best for approvals in animé, they are one of the best I have ever worked with in 25 years of licensing. In terms of markets, Ben Woodman from GB eye put it very well when he told me that “Miku is a key animé property, her popularity has grown across Europe in the last 12 months and despite the pandemic, we’ve seen our Miku sales increase year on year.”

With various streaming platform really ramping up their anime content over the past 12 months, it seems like the pandemic could have presented a real opportunity to tap directly into emerging audiences. What lasting effect do you think the past year will have in the popularity of manga/anime IP?

Licensing around tent-pole theatrical releases will come back, eventually,  but right now, while cinemas are closed, licensees could be forgiven for avoiding film licenses. Everyone stayed home in 2020 and 2021 will unfortunately see much of the same. People have been used to getting entertained at home and the big winners, I have been told umpteen times by licensees, are gaming and animé brands.

Investment in the production of original animé by Netflix is expanding, Amazon and HBO are continuing to secure classic animé properties, and Crunchyroll has just hit 4 million paid subscribers (their fastest growth to date because they only reached 3 million last year).

Beyond that, the purchase of Crunchyroll by Funimation will soon yield an animé powerhouse in the West. So yes, there is a lot of activity in the industry which will ensure not only that classic properties are more available but that new content continues to be created. It is a great time to be an animé fan.

You’ve shown us a list of the licensing partners that Hatsune Miku is already signed up. There are 18 of them, signed in just the past year, including AR badges and pop-up restaurants. It was only a year ago that you had just two deals. That’s some impressive licensing there, Max. How will you continue to innovate and push the envelope in the licensing of the brand?

I have lots of plans in place to keep the Hatsune Miku brand innovative in the licensing space. The adult colouring book from Anthem fits very nicely from a creative perspective, and the WristWorld mobile game (a company run by teenagers in Oklahoma) is also notable. I also love the limited edition screen-prints from Under The Floorboards and the Rubber Road range – the Christmas decoration is sold out and the rubber duck is in progress. If we can do that and it be commercial, then surely the sky is the limit?

What are your expectations for the brand this year and beyond? Will anime/manga continue to grow in popularity across Europe, and what does the future hold for Hatsune Miku?

The expectations are that yes, anime/manga will continue to grow across Europe. For Miku, there should be return to live touring next year but since performing in front of fans is not possible right now (not even for virtual pop stars), Crypton is putting on a free online gig this summer.

Launched on Kickstarter, the target of $240K was reached in 24 hours – the fans sure love Miku. Check out the Kickstarter campaign here.

Hit action anime series Baki taps Reemsborko for Europe and Australasia licensing

The popular action anime, Baki is on the path to grow its licensing activity across Europa and Australasia, having appointed the pop culture licensing specialist, Reemsborko to represent the property across all categories.

Baki has been the subject of multiple manga, anime, and video games over the last 30 years and the show is currently confirmed as a top ten Netflix show across 50 countries. The series currently consists of 39 episodes across two seasons, with a third season scheduled to land this year.

Max Arguile of Reemsborko, said: “In the absence of theatrical releases, everyone now gets their entertainment at home, and the only genres showing real growth for merchandise are gaming and animé. Baki has both heritage and current popularity and is on a great platform with more content on the way.

“It has just started venturing into merchandising outside Japan so this is a great opportunity for licensees.”

Cinzia Mariani, Vice President at TMS Paris, added: “Baki brings you all the sweat, tears and blood you could hope for. We’re very excited to team up with Reemsborko to expand in the field of merchandising both in Europe and down under.”

Image: ©Keisuke Itagaki(AKITASHOTEN)/Baki II Film Partners All Rights Reserved.

Reemsborko’s Max Arguile: “The anime investment bubble shows no sign of bursting”

With a portfolio spanning some of the most iconic IP in pop culture, including Bill and Ted, Dragon Ball Z and and extended library of anime properties now starting to gather pace here in the UK, Max Arguile, founder of the licensing agency Reemsborko is riding on the crest of a wave that shows no sign of ebbing any time soon.

Much like the Big Bang, the pop culture explosion seems only to be expanding further and further into even the most distant corners, helping the kind of properties and fandom that was once deemed ‘underground’ pitch new flags in the mainstream channel, and finding new ways to engage audiences the world over.

While lockdown has not come without its challenges for the pop culture space, and for Arguile’s own Reemsborko business alike, it’s with a sense of optimism that the pop culture specialist takes his position at the front of that charge, and the wealth of new developments he has managed to forge, even in the face of the last few months. catches up with Arguile to talk about the latest projects for Reemsborko, the unerring passion for pop culture, and where business is heading from here on out.

Hi Max, to kick us off, how has business been for Reemsborko over the last few months?

It was pretty mixed under lockdown. Three deals fell apart in early on and it was tough but I still managed to get a dozen contracts signed, mostly new business but a couple of renewals.

What sort of impact do you think the lockdown has had on the pop culture/anime licensing and merchandising business?

Consistent with all industries, it has been horrific for those companies that have gone bankrupt and for those that have had to down-size. I have been working from home since early 2018 so no real change for me but everyone has had to adapt to survive. And coming out of lockdown a big impact for the companies that are still trading is the disruption to production timelines and therefore a delay for new business.

The numbers of people streaming content over the lockdown has surged – a good share of which is anime content… Meanwhile, Netflix continues to bulk out its own anime library – how do you think this may impact the merchandising opportunities?

Whatever people love represents a merchandising opportunity. Unsurprisingly Netflix did phenomenally well with a captive audience and other streamers must have done OK but everything has a cost.

Families facing increased streaming bills will have been glad of not only the BBC but also free channels like POP, which apparently enjoyed record viewing figures. For everyone still undecided, yes, Dragon Ball is still the number one boys show on POP with more content on the way.

What lasting impact do you think recent events will have on licensing? How well has the pop culture scene adapted to the changes, and what do you think this will mean for its licensing?

Recently it was Comic-Con From Home – the online version of a crucial pop-culture event. I’ve seen some good presentations done with flair and imagination (Factory Entertainment and Super7 take a bow), and others that just looked like giant Zoom meetings and so I didn’t even bother.

E-commerce has leaped forward by about five years since March, and as a trader, if you don’t have a vibrant route to market online then it’s going to be tougher from now on. Fortunately for Reemsborko, the fans of the licenses I sign don’t usually expect to find the corresponding merchandise in bricks and mortar, you know? The fans just wouldn’t think to look there – the first place they will go is online hence the licensees I have that do online selling in a meaningful way actually did OK in Q2.

The Reemsborko portfolio is now looking very strong. Can you talk us through some of the exciting developments for you over the last few months/first half of 2020?

The portfolio is decent but frankly there isn’t enough in there. We’re not resting yet. I’m looking for more animation properties, and also video games – anything that is cool and interesting, rather than simply a cashcow (although I’m not against those).

Hatsune Miku has been extremely strong in 2020 firstly at the level of interest and secondly now in the market place. The first Wild Bangarang range launched just last weekend – online only – they are very happy with the sales and consider this to be a signing that will grow, especially once the fans start discussing their purchases. Not only is the fanbase super-engaged but we have influencers on board that will wear and show the product via their social media channels – free advertising, directly to the fans never hurts. Likewise, Dragon Ball also continues to work. Junji Ito hasn’t really started yet in Europe (although the t-shirt range will hit retail in Australia by Q4) and there is a lot to come on both Heathen and Black Hammer.

Heathen should start filming in January – they have cast the lead so that is pretty exciting, and we are in the midst of approving a massive apparel range for Black Hammer.

What have been some of the key partnerships you’ve established for 2020 so far?

I’m very happy to now be working with some major talent in the comics industry. Dark Horse have already committed to pushing new Black Hammer products via their Twitter account and Vault Comics are really punching above their weight as a publisher. Aside from Heathen, they have a range of titles, one of which – Vagrant Queen – was made into a TV series, showing recently on Syfy. Vault are fully open to maximising on their whole catalogue – so if anyone is interested in original IP to develop as live action or animation, please get in touch.

You’ve recently partnered with TMS to bring Lupin the Third into the portfolio. What sort of plans have you got for the property in the European market? What is the strength of the brand here in Europe?

Lupin is a well loved classic animé – I aim to start with apparel and collectibles and the new feature length CGI film should be released this year so I’m hopeful of also capitalising on the halo effect that will have

It’s a topic we’ve discussed many times before, but always worth highlighting – what do you make of the current strength of the pop culture scene across Europe? How has the demand for animé ‘swag’ in Europe grown? 

Pop culture is just getting bigger in all territories. What was traditionally underground is becoming mainstream and, as the saying goes, the geek shall inherit the earth.

Animé is only getting started in the UK outside of specialty – we have a long, long way to go catch up with Europe and North America. Furthermore, the animé investment bubble shows no sign of bursting – the streaming platforms continue to commission new content which just increases the size of the total offering.

Conventions won’t be happening so there will be no physical meeting for a while but communication never stops. The fans are fully aware of new developments, and new content almost before they are announced – it’s the job of people like me to ensure that they also know about new products too.

The fans should have the swag so it is our job to make the good stuff visible to not just the fans but also the gift givers. We have our work cut out but the future is bright.

What’s the next big step for Reemsborko as the world wakes up from the pandemic lockdown?

Before Matrix 4, Cyberpunk 2077, John Wick 4 and the new SpongeBob movie, remember that the renaissance of Keanu Reeves starts in earnest when Bill and Ted Face The Music reaches fans worldwide in September.

For many years licensees have enjoyed a steady pace of success with the merchandise from the first two Bill and Ted films – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. A healthy dose of Bill and Ted is something we could all use right now

Anything you’d like to add?

Be excellent to each other!

Reemsborko partners with TMS Entertainment to bring anime’s Lupin the Third to licensing

Reemsborko, the pop culture and anime licensing specialist has partnered with TMS Entertainment to represent the classic anime property, Lupin the Third in the consumer products space. Under the deal, Reemsborko will embark on a licensing programme for the European market.

A classic in the anime market, Lupin the Third was created in 1967 by the manga artist Kazuhiko Kato (under the pen name Monkey Punch) and has spawned a multi-media franchise encompassing six animated TV series, seven full length animated films, two live action films, multiple music albums and soundtracks, stage musicals, and video games.

Lupin the Third follows the story of the grandson of the fictional Arsène Lupin, the original gentleman thief, and one of the most famous and wanted crooks in the world. A ruthless criminal with a sense of humour, Lupin is constantly pursued by Interpol’s Zenigata and often accompanied by a group of not-so-faithful accomplices as he attempts some of the most outrageous thefts of all time, or deals with the many, many people holding a grudge against him.

The animé series have been heavily rotated on Funimation and Cartoon Network while new content is still being produced. The first CGI feature film is due to be in cinemas worldwide later this year.

Max Arguile of Reemsborko, said: “It’s really great to be working with TMS, representing the best of Lupin the Third. This classic animé property is still delivering new content that will drive consumer products to the fans.”

Cinzia Mariani, Vice President at TMS Paris, added: “We are very excited at TMS to team up with Reemsborko to bring all the swagger and allure of the Lupin family to European fans old and new. Do keep an eye out for our gentleman thief.”


Reemsborko named UK and Eire licensing agent for Dragon Ball

Reemsborko Ltd, the pop culture licensing specialist run by the industry’s own Max Arguile, has been named the exclusive licensing agent for the whole of the Dragon Ball franchise across the UK and Eire.

The appointment was made by Toei Animation Europe, the EMEA media company in charge of the distribution and exploitation of Toei Animation’s Japanese animated series in Europe. The deal encompasses the Dragon Ball brand, including Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball Super.

The new partnership arrives at an interesting time for animé brands here in the UK, a sector that has been steadily increasing in popularity with mainstream audiences over the last few years. Dragon Ball now joins the likes of other popular animé properties, including Cannon Busters and Hatsune Miku – the popular holographic animé character – that sit within Reemsborko’s growing brand portfolio.

With a 30 year heritage, Dragon Ball now boasts a fanbase of millions across the globe.

Max Arguile of Reemsborko, said: “I have worked on Dragon Ball many times over the years – what a great property. It is the single most widely recognised animé, with a demonstrable success at UK retail over the past 12 months.

“This year saw the launch of a new series, Dragon Ball Super, on kids TV channel Pop, which will grow a whole new generation of fans. I am very pleased to be able to represent this for Toei Animation Europe in the UK.”

Hélène Virenque of Toei, added: “We have been very happy with our past collaborations with Max, and we’re looking forward to working with him to grow the Dragon Ball licensing and retail opportunities even further in the UK and Eire.”

Max Arguile can be contacted for licensing opportunities around the Dragon Ball franchise via