ITOCHU Announces Capital and Business Partnership with VTuber Group Nijisanji Manager Ichikara Inc.
April 14, 2020
ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Yoshihisa Suzuki, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today a capital and business partnership with Ichikara Inc. (headquartered in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Riku Tazumi, CEO; hereinafter “Ichikara”), a company that operates a VTuber business.
A VTuber is a virtual media personality who does things such as uploading and broadcasting videos using a 2D or 3D character (avatar) with the help of motion capture and other technologies. There has been a sharp increase in the number of VTubers in Japan since around 2017, and they are believed to number more than 10,000*1 at present. Going beyond just uploading and broadcasting videos, they engage in a diverse range of activities, such as the sales of character merchandise, real-life events, and corporate advertising. Moreover, unlike regular media personalities, VTubers do not have to worry about their individual sex or appearance, and can try out productions that would be difficult in the real world, making it a new field in entertainment with considerable potential for pioneering business.
In addition, Japanese anime content is earning increasing recognition abroad each year, with the overseas market size of the Japanese anime industry exceeding 1 trillion yen*2 in 2018. The VTuber combines media personality and anime elements, and is set to expand internationally as a new form of Japanese IP*3 and content that can boost the existing anime content industry.
Ichikara is a startup specializing in VTubers, including Nijisanji, which is Japan’s biggest VTuber group. It started the business in 2017 and has seen rapid growth with more than 10 million channel subscribers and more than 1 billion video views on YouTube. Moreover, its business is diversified and includes everything from the sales of goods and digital content of popular VTubers to organizing real-life events. It is also actively expanding in China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, and other countries.
ITOCHU will be assisting in the expansion of the VTuber business to China and other countries through this capital and business partnership with Ichikara, making use of the ITOCHU Group’s network and expertise. The aim is to support the combined development of merchandise, music, and real-life events relevant to VTubers as a new form of IP that capitalizes on the uniquely Japanese strength in anime culture.
In the Medium-Term Management Plan “Brand-New Deal 2020: Becoming a Next-Generation Merchant,” ITOCHU is promoting the “next generation of trading,” and this initiative is a perfect fit. ITOCHU will continue to actively expand business in the content field with a particular focus on China.
|Founded||May 2, 2017|
|Business description||Manages Nijisanji, Japan’s biggest VTuber group, VTuber projects abroad, as well as Yume no Graphia, a one-on-one VR communication space|
- *1From the “User Local Virtual YouTuber Ranking,” provided by User Local, Inc.
- *2From the “Anime Industry Repot 2019” by the Association of Japanese Animations.
- *3IP stands for intellectual property.
Nijisanji is a VTuber project that is home to a diverse crowd of influencers, aimed at accelerating next-generation entertainment through events, selling goods and digital content, producing music, and other means. As of March 2020, about 100 affiliated VTubers are expressing their unique personalities to the fullest on YouTube and other video platforms.
■Official website: https://www.ichikara.co.jp/en/
■Official YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX7YkU9nEeaoZbkVLVajcMg