Almost a year and a half has passed since MANGA.TOKYO first released Otsukai!
We currently have over 66 thousand users worldwide and this number is growing every day. We are still far from providing a perfect service, so we depend on feedback from our dear users to help us create a website that is easy and enjoyable to use.
In January and February 2019 we sent out a short questionnaire to 189 users who had completed orders on Otsukai in order to find out how they felt. 46 users were so kind as to answer our questions and received a $3 cashback on a completed order on Otsukai as a little thank you from us. It took a while to get this article out, but we feel that transparency is big part of Otsukai values. We hope this will give our current and future users a look at how other people feel about our service.
Below are the questions we included in our questionnaire, the users’ replies and some comments from us. The questions marked with a star were compulsory to answer.
1) Email address*
2) Please insert the URL of the Otsukai order you would like to get the cashback for.*
The answers to questions 1) and 2) were only important for us to conduct the cashback and will therefore not be disclosed.
3) Where did you learn about Otsukai?*
We were excited to see that many of our users learned about Otsukai mostly from the ads on Instagram and Facebook. There were also a few users who stated Reddit, Tumblr, the German YouTuber NinotakuTV, Otaku USA Magazine, convention AnimeNYC and our news website MANGA.TOKYO.
4) Why did you decide to use Otsukai?*
The most common reason was that users were unable find the items they were looking for in their own country, or were looking for items that are only available in Japan, such as merchandise sold at Comiket or doujin events, pop up stores etc. To be able to get hold of items that are solely sold at events like themed cafes, we created this reversed shopping experience to enable you send a person in Japan on errands. A large number of users liked the idea of being able to request items which they want to buy, rather than having to look for the products themselves.
Many of you also compared Otsukai to other services and websites, and noted that Otsukai was often the cheapest way to get hold of what you were looking for. This mostly applies to merchandise which is double or even triple the price when sold overseas. We encourage you to compare other ways of finding your item before making a Request on Otsukai, as Otsukai might not always be the cheapest method. However, there are times when Otsukai may be the only way to find certain rare items.
Some users have mentioned that the shipping from Japan to their country is often very expensive. We know of websites that charge a lot for shipping overseas, therefore both the Japanese users and the global users can choose between e-Packet light, e-Packet, EMS and DHL. All shipping methods include a tracking number which is an essential part of Otsukai, because the Friends in Japan will only receive their money once your item has arrived and has been marked as such by you. This is another positive aspect of Otsukai, which some users noted in their responses. Otsukai is the middleman that is there for you, like a big brother who is always there to protect you. The support team can be reached by creating a new ticket here. Please never hesitate to write to support if you have any questions, concerns or feedback. We are here to help and are looking forward to feedback.
5) Based on your experience, what did you like about Otsukai?*
Easy to use
The answers for this question mentioned how easy Otsukai is to use, that users could finally get hold of items they have always been looking for, how good the customer service is, the fast response from the Japanese users and the range of offers, and the fact that they are able to choose their favorite offer out of many.
No surprise expenses – offered price is final price – no list prices
Another satisfying point for our users was that the offered price is the final price – no hidden listing fees – and that there are many fairly-priced offers.
The prices you are offered are indeed the final prices you pay. These prices include the price the Friends have to pay for the item, packaging, transportation fee and tickets for events etc if applicable, domestic and international shipping charges, and last but not least 8% PayPal charge and 10% service charge.
6) Based on your experience, was there anything about Otsukai that you didn’t like?*
The page needs a messaging function.
This was one of the most important questions for us in the survey. Many users would like to message their Friends to ask for more details about their offers. We have been discussing this issue since we started the service. At first we did consider including a messaging function but were concerned about the language barrier. It would be impossible for the support team to keep an eye on every single message, so in order to prevent misunderstandings we decided in the end not to implement the feature.
However, it is by no means impossible to communicate the Friend. If you have any questions you would like to ask the Friends, there are two ways in which you can do this. You can edit the description of your request which will appear on your request’s timeline, and each Friend that made you an offer will receive an email notification. This only works before you select and pay for an offer. The Friend may then make a new Offer in response to the new information you provided. The second method is to write a ticket to the support team, who will contact the Friend on your behalf. Our support team is made up of staff who speak both English and Japanese, and are here to act as intermediaries between the Japanese Friends and the worldwide users.
After seeing how many users are still requesting a messaging feature while still making use of their Request descriptions to talk to Friends, we are reconsidering implementing a new kind of communication feature at some point in the future.
Some of the answers stated that prices are too expensive. We cannot claim that all our Japanese users are philanthropists who seek a zero-profit margin on their offers, however, you don’t have to accept any offer you feel is overpriced. You can always wait a few more days and see if other users can make you a cheaper offer.
If you ever think that a price is unjustifiably high, please raise a ticket with the support team by reporting the Offer and we will investigate accordingly. As mentioned in question 6, prices on Otsukai include all the various fees not just the value of the item you asked for. Here is an example on how prices and charges are calculated:
You saw a plushie you want online for 1,500 yen.
A Friend on Otsukai searches for the plushie and makes you an offer for 44.36 USD. You ask yourself, why is it such a high price? 1,500 yen is only about 15 USD!
Usually this is because the item in question either has already sold out, is an older and now hard to get hold of item, or is rare and thus is now only available for an increased price at second-hand stores.
The Friend sees the item for sale online for 2,100 yen. The domestic shipping, packaging costs and international shipping comes to a total of 1,700. The Friend then may or may not add a small amount on top to cover their time spent processing everything, and inputs a price of about 3,800 yen into Otsukai when making you the offer.
The system first converts this price into USD (36.54 USD) and then adds the PayPal (8%) and system charge (10%) on top of the Friend’s price, which in this example comes to 7.82 USD. And that is how you received an offer for 44.36 USD.
I don’t like that my Total Spent, etc. details are being displayed.
In the time that has passed since conducting this survey, we have removed this feature. The original intention of this feature was to let Friends know whether a user has a habit of making many requests without intending to actually purchase anything, as is sometimes the case. Instead, user profiles now simply display the number of good or bad ratings a user has, and the number of ratings and requests they have made since opening their account. We hope these changes are to everyone’s liking.
I want to be able to convert the price.
A few users wrote that they would like to be able convert the offered prices into other currencies. As we want to keep the website as simple as possible, the prices on Otsukai are only displayed in US Dollars. We hope to add a currency converter one day but the prices the converter would display might not be the same as you will be billed via PayPal, which could cause confusion.
I can’t buy items that were offered to other users
Since we conducted this survey, Otsukai has changed a little bit. While you still can’t just buy any offer you see on Otsukai made to another user, there are now instances where you can. We have implemented a new feature called the Open Offer feature, in which once half of an Offer’s expiry time has passed, the Offer becomes an Open Offer and is made available to all users on Otsukai. However, this will only occur if the Friend has chosen to put in an Open Offer Price in their Offer. If an Offer that was made to another user has a price displayed over the listing image on the Offers page, this means it is now an Open Offer.
If you want to purchase an Offer that has not become an Open Offer, or an Offer that has already been purchased by somebody else, you can still attempt to do so by clicking the red button that says “I want to request this item!”. Otsukai will then automatically duplicate the request with the same photo and condition details – all you will need to do is input your own title and description and make any changes you deem necessary.
I want to write/read reviews.
This is also a great idea which we would love to add when possible. Currently, users are only able to rate Japanese users ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ after the item has arrived. If you encounter any negative experiences, such as receiving damaged products, incorrect items etc. then please don’t hesitate in contacting the support team. You can also write the support team to thank the Friend. We will forward any relevant messages on to the Friend.
It feels like the Friends are doing a reversed auction.
While monitoring requests and offers, we have come across Friends who are ‘fighting’ by making cheaper and cheaper Offers. While we cannot say we that object to this manner of offering – as you, the Requester, have the right to to wait for the best offer and ignore the others – we cannot support Japanese users who offer the same items repeatedly on the same Request at a lower price than before, just because another user came and beat their price. We are trying to find a way to stop users from doing this. For the time being, we can only recommend you to wait a little, if the offer’s expiring date allows it.
7) Is there a feature you’d like to see on Otsukai in the future?*
The messaging function is the most asked-for feature on Otsukai, followed by a review/rating messaging system, preferred price setting and a button that rejects certain offers. We like the idea of a button that gives you the power to reject offers if they are too expensive or if they include items you are not looking to purchase at this time. However we’re also concerned that people will reject offers thinking they are overpriced when it is in fact just the market price of the item they have asked for, and in a way could possibly self-sabotage themselves as it means they would be unable to purchase Offers made to their own Request. We are currently working on various other features first and may consider including a reject button later, but for now, the best course of action would be to simply ignore offers you don’t like.
Some users mentioned that they would love to have an official Otsukai app. We are happy to announce that we actually did release one for iOS and Android in mid-March 2019. Updates for it may not be as frequent as they are for the main site, but please use it freely!
8) Is there a website or shop you usually purchase Japanese anime merchandise from?*
A lot of users listed AmiAmi, eBay and Amazon as places from which they frequently buy merchandise from. However some users noted that Amazon and other non-Japan based marketplaces often offer products for extremely inflated prices, which we have noticed as well. For new items, it would be a good idea to purchase them from places like Amiami as you will only be paying for the cost of the item and the shipping to you, whereas with proxy-shipping services like Otsukai there are of course other fees like service charges and domestic shipping. For this reason, Otsukai may not always be the cheapest option for you.
We also noticed a number of people didn’t have another site they usually bought their merch from. We hope you liked your experience on Otsukai and that maybe we can become your regular!
9) Please tell us about any events or exhibitions you frequently attend.*
We asked this question to help inform us which events might be good for us to sponsor or partner up with in the future. Quite a few of our users said they regularly attend events such as Anime Next, London MCM Expo, Anime North and ComicCon. We also noticed a good number of replies said they do not or are not able to attend any such events.
10) Which are your favorite websites?*
This question was also asked for marketing purposes so that we know which sites might be good for us to advertise Otsukai on. Users listed their favourite sites as Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, MyAnimeList, Fanfiction.net, Pinterest and more.
11) Do you have any favorite YouTubers and Twitch streamers?*
Otsukai users say they enjoy watching ProZD, Kizuna Ai, Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, vinesauce and more.
12) Please leave any support messages, suggestions, feedback, or any other comments here.
Many of your messages were very kind and gave us lots of ideas on how to improve Otsukai. As it was a survey with open answers, every response was individually written, so we have listed some of our favorite comments and wishes below.
‘Thank you for this lovely little website that has granted many of my dreams! 🙂‘
‘All of you are doing a good job! Keep going ^^‘
‘Thank you for your hard work! I will definitely use your service again‘
‘I love your site. Thank you so much for helping people like us who live in countries that make shipping/exporting to here impossible or so expensive.🙏💞‘
‘Your site is efficient and like all things Japanese humble and respectful. Keep up the good work.‘
‘Such service is a great idea, thanks a lot! Definitely will be using it again in the future.‘
As expected, the way Otsukai operates is still not a very common way of purchasing items online, so misunderstandings are not unusual. We are constantly working on improving our site, as well as revising our guide and FAQ pages.
Thank you to all our beloved users and especially to those who took the time to respond to our survey! Please look forward to the results of the summer survey, the details of which should be available soon.
MANGA.TOKYO are currently running a proxy service!
If you are hoping to buy these goods and need some help getting hold of them then let us know! You can find more details here: