Virtual YouTubers that simply voices and hosts anime characters can earn over $1 million a year according to Japan today
Just like Iizuka,
who voices and animates a character called Yume Kotobuki, many others make YouTube videos designed to make fans feel like they’re interacting directly with their favorite anime idols, while viewers sometimes paying hundreds of dollars for a single comment to be highlighted on a live stream.
“When I play video games on my channel and achieve something, my fans give me praise and tips “to show their support and appreciation,” Iizuka told AFP news agancy
*AFP Tweet on Japan’s VTubers
VIDEO: 🇯🇵 'Like family': Japan's virtual YouTubers make millions from fans
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) May 7, 2022
The 26-year-old uses a laptop, webcam and motion sensor worn around her neck to appear onscreen as ‘Yume’ whose facial expressions are monitored by a producer.
Iizuka’s avatar follows a popular model for “VTuber” characters, who often resemble the hyper-feminine heroines of Japanese anime.
Since its emergence five years ago, the world of VTuber has grown rapidly, with around 16,000 active streamers worldwide, according to data firm User Local, and growing fanbases on other platforms like TikTok.
- Regional governments in Japan have used Vtubers for various promotions
VTubers generate money similarly to traditional live streamers through YouTube’s “Super Chat” system.
In fact, the nine highest-earning YouTube accounts in the world for Super Chat last year were all VTubers, affiliated with a Tokyo-based talent agency, each earning between $700,000 and $1.5 million according to data analytics site Playboard.
Most fans spend a few hundred yen (US$1) per comment, while dedicated ones spend 50,000 yen (US$400) to post impassioned notes to their virtual idols.
A VTuber fan, Kazumi, adorned his small one-room apartment near Tokyo with posters, framed photos featuring his favorite character, ‘Mio Ookami’
Kazumi, a computer engineer spends time on weekends delving into Mio’s videos and creating digital illustrations of the dark-haired “wolf girl”
“Sometimes I spend over 10 hours just thinking about her,” he said.
Fans devotion and willingness to pay big bucks is tied to how other fan subcultures operate in Japan, said Noriyuki Nagamatsu, business specialist at advertising firm DA Consortium.
“Super Chat is basically an extension of a long-standing culture where idol and anime fans try to support their favorite anime by splurging on their merchandise,” he said