AI Digital Celebrities

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Digital Celebrities

Some prominent global AI-based digital celebrities are Kaguya Luna, Hacka Doll, Dennou Shojo Siro, Mirai Akari, and Nekomiya Hinata. Others include Tsukino Mito, Nora Cat, Oda Nobuhime, Takehana Note, and Higuchi Kaede. Since the concept of Virtual YouTubers is centered in Japan and has yet to expand outside of the country, all the listed digital celebrities are based in Japan. Below, we have presented a detailed overview of our research strategy, any assumptions we have made, and the findings from our research.

METHODOLOGY

We began our research by seeking to understand the concept of Virtual YouTubers and digital celebrities. During our research, we discovered that this concept began in Japan, but it has not expanded to other nations. Therefore, we restricted our research solely to Japan as the idea does not exist outside of the country. We also noticed that Virtual YouTubers, or VTubers, are characterized as AI-based celebrities because of how they originated and communicated with individuals on social media. Also, we used two separate parameters to decide their prominence due to the absence of any available metric to determine their influence. First, we took a ranking from Goo Rankings, which is a Japanese website that based its findings on survey results.

Second, we selected the celebrities based on the highest YouTube views. For additional credibility, we further cross-checked the individuals using a VTuber website. We then examined the leading social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) in Japan to avoid randomly selecting channels. Further research revealed that channels such as Mixi, Mobage, and Gree serve as local platforms, but most either concentrate on gaming or require a membership by invitation. We then reviewed the social media channels used by the celebrities to obtain their number of followers. However, we were unable to obtain the number of Facebook and Instagram followers for nearly all the celebrities. To find this information, we searched through the Facebook and Instagram pages/handles of each individual.

We also converted their English names into their Japanese counterparts to find their accounts. Nonetheless, the pages for some of the celebrities were unavailable. Next, we searched for their popularity and acceptance levels in Japan to conduct a triangulation. We explored sources such as VTuber, Tamco, and Goboiano, among others for this information. However, the only data that we could locate was limited to the top celebrities according to YouTube subscribers or different survey methodologies. Finally, we searched for third-party sites supplying analytics for Facebook users. We wanted to utilize the websites' available tools to determine the traffic of followers on Facebook and Instagram for celebrities.

We scrutinized credible sources including Hoot Suite, Keyhole, and Brand Watch. Nevertheless, we recognized that either the individuals did not have accounts/pages on Facebook and Instagram or it was out of scope for the websites' tools to be capable of offering analytical data based on the chosen requirements. Additionally, we implemented alternate methods of evaluating their followers by assessing the general popularity of their platforms. We sought survey and research reports published by Nielsen and Ipsos, but it was clear that the sites have not conducted research on the subject and Japan was recognized as restricted geography.

TEN PROMINENT AI-BASED DIGITAL CELEBRITIES

1) KAGUYA LUNA

OVERVIEW: Kaguya Luna is a Japanese Virtual YouTuber. She enjoys chatting, playing video games, blood, and singing. Luna detests dancing. She has a desire to be a YouTuber capable of producing smiles for everyone. She contrasts to several prominent female VTubers as she is rather vulgar and regularly insults her viewers in good-natured amusement. Moreover, Luna is free-spirited and energetic.

YOUTUBE VIEWS: 81,287,857

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS: 6,741

TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 98

INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS: 35,600

2) HACKA DOLL

OVERVIEW: Originating from Japan, Hacka Doll is a group of Virtual YouTubers. They also serve as characters from a popular anime series and navigators from a news application of the same name. Their channel mostly features Hacka Doll #1, which is a female with blonde hair. However, there is a video involving Hacka Doll #3, a male with blue hair, and Hacka Doll #2, which is a female with pink hair. Hacka Doll #1 is confident and vigorous, yet clumsy. Compared to Hacka Doll #1, Hacka Doll #2 is serene and quiet but is a bit of an airhead.

YOUTUBE VIEWS: 2,576,970

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS: 254

TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 83,200

INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS: N/A

3) DENNOU SHOJO SIRO

OVERVIEW: Debuting on June 28, 2017, Dennou Shojo Siro is a Japanese Virtual YouTuber with numerous appearances. Her most recent appearance involves her wearing blue sow jacket paired with a matching hat. Siro's other appearances resemble a goddess and a girl wearing a blue skirt.

YOUTUBE VIEWS: 76,913,344

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS: N/A

TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 54,500

INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS: N/A

4) MIRAI AKARI

OVERVIEW: Mirai Akari is a Virtual YouTuber from Japan who launched on October 27, 2017. She possesses blond hair that is styled into a side ponytail along with a blue butterfly-shaped ribbon. Akari also has a slim yet voluptuous shape and blue eyes.

YOUTUBE VIEWS: 52,847,345

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS: 13

TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 328,000

INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS: N/A

5) NEKOMIYA HINATA

OVERVIEW: Debuting on February 11, 2018, Nekomiya Hinata is a Virtual YouTuber who is rather lazy. She speaks in a dull tone of voice and sounds as if she is exhausted. Hinata enjoys playing video games, namely FPS games where she demonstrates impressive skills. She is not a fan of horror games, especially those featuring ghosts that cannot be eliminated with guns. For this reason, she does not consider zombie games to be a part of the horror genre.

YOUTUBE VIEWS: 29,050,291

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS: N/A

TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 179,000

INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS: N/A

6) TSUKINO MITO

OVERVIEW: Tsukino Mito is a Virtual YouTuber from Japan. At 16 years old, she is an articulate and well-tailored high school "iinchou" (translation: class president). Mito is a part of the Nijisanji group, where she is the most prominent member according to her subscriber count. Along with Higuchi Kaede and Shizuka Rin, she is a member of "JK gumi" (a high school girl group). Mito has a personality that is described as tsundere, seiso (wholesome), though she is an earnest class president. Moreover, she often believes her attempts are insignificant, although she always tries her best. Following a speech, Mito frequently questions if she spoke excessively and becomes depressed.

YOUTUBE VIEWS: 29,278,993

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS: N/A

TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 230,395

INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS: N/A

7) NORA CAT

OVERVIEW: First launching on Nicovideo on April 15, 2017, Nora Cat is a Japanese Virtual YouTuber. She later debuted on YouTube on December 23, 2017. She has referred to herself as a "Virtual Sidome Bishojo YouTuber." Nora Cat dawns a dark gothic lolita fashion dress and has silver hair, cat ears, and cold red eyes. She typically conducts her broadcasts on YouTube Live to utilize "Kinect for motion capture, Wii Remote for face controls, Voiceroid for creating voice and real-time auto-subtitles."

YOUTUBE VIEWS: 2,312,642

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS: N/A

TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 84,861

INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS: N/A

8) ODA NOBUHIME

OVERVIEW: Oda Nobuhime is a Japanese Virtual YouTuber inspired by Oda Nobunaga, a feudal lord from the 16th century. Nobuhime has marketed her "QWOP let's play video" using YouTube. By doing this, she has garnered a massive quantity of views and drew several non-VTuber viewers from various languages. Presumably, Nobunaga displays an infatuation with a particular member of the Game Club Project, Haruto Domyoji. Domyoji is mentioned in many of Nobunaga's videos.

YOUTUBE VIEWS: 16,977,322

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS: N/A

TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 90,663

INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS: N/A

9) TAKEHANA NOTE

OVERVIEW: Originating from Japan, Takehana Note is a Virtual YouTuber who has been referred to as "mama" as he serves as the illustrator for some famous characters like Lenaga Mugi and Shizuka Rin. Note utilizes a pitch changer to sound like a female. The VTuber does not attempt to suppress this fact and removes it occasionally.

YOUTUBE VIEWS: 899,503

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS: N/A

TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 161,269

INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS: N/A

10) HIGUCHI KAEDE

OVERVIEW: Like the others, Higuchi Kaede is a Japanese Virtual YouTuber who is also a member of the Nijisanji group. As with VTubers Shizuka Rin and Tsukino Mito, Kaede is also a participating member of "JK gumi." Although she is well-intentioned, she seems doubtful of herself. She is occasionally referred to as "Chotto" (translation: "hetero"). This term originates from a livestream where a fan distributed lesbian-themed fan art, which was a spoof of the Yuri series Citrus, involving the VTuber along with Tsukino Mito. Though the livestream was not publicly recorded, she replied fiercely to the images using the word Chotto.

YOUTUBE VIEWS: 13,705,283

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS: N/A

TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 136,870

INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS: N/A

Part
02
of two
Part
02

Social Media Digital Celebrity Challenges In China

After conducting an in-depth search, we established that China banned the use of YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. The ban on these social media sites was effected in 2009. Alternatively, sites like Youku Tudou, Renren, and WeChat are being used in China to socialize virtually. However, we were not able to find the information for other challenges in China for social media digital celebrity because the information provided was mostly for celebrities in general and how they promote brands but not specific to AI celebrity.

METHODOLOGY

We started off the research by looking at the news articles and blogs on credible sources such as SCMP, China Daily, and Global Times as well as on market research reports such as Kantar China Social Media Impact Report 2018 and China Social Media Landscape 2018. The idea was to check if there is any information on barriers to promote a digital AI based celebrity in China. Normally, such information is best covered in news articles and blogs and/or industry reports. Hence, we chose to check them prima facie. While most of these sources enumerated the ban on social media including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter there was no information pertaining to the challenges available for digital AI based celebrity. But since these are digital celebrities, the use of digital media is prominent for them. Hence, the ban on social media is a major challenge for them. We looked further for information on reliable sites like Comparitech, Goayc, and How2Shout. The idea was to derive the challenges from which these solutions are applicable. However, all the sources only provided information related to the solutions to the broader generic problem of social media bans in China.
We extended our search and looked for some examples and case studies of digital AI based celebrity which was promoted in China on credible sources such as Forbes, Sixthtone, and Jing Daily. The idea was to see what marketing/promotional tactics have been used for the promotion of these celebrities by companies. Though a few names such as Kaguya Luna, Hatsune Miku, and Gorillaz were available, detailed information regarding the challenges faced by these celebrities was not available in any of the sources. We could only find information in one of the reports that stated China’s internet firewall has resulted in the development of a UGDC ecosystem with differentiating characteristics. Thus, technological growth and the increase in China's middle-class consumption create a possibility of the digital celebrity economy growing.
We broadened our search and looked for the Chinese names of digital celebrities in sources such as Investopedia, Repository, Futurism and other sources. We were able to find the Chinese names of a digital celebrity which was Wang Hong. We tried to check for the information with this name. Unfortunately, all the information was related to digital celebrities in general which also included internet celebrities with no specific information on the challenges and solutions of the digital AI based celebrity. We also checked advertising websites such as Baidu, Sogou, and Qihoo to find information specific to digital celebrity mentioned. Due to language constraint, information could not be searched.
A social media platform refers to a way people communicate by which ideas and information are created, shared, and exchanged through virtual networks and communities.

SOCIAL MEDIA CHALLENGES IN CHINA

CENSORSHIP OF SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

YouTube enables its users to access videos that are created by other users from around the globe. YouTube is owned by Google. YouTube was blocked in China in 2009, making it the first social media site to be blocked by the Great Firewall of China. Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot, Picasa, and Vimeo were also blocked in China in 2009.

SOLUTION TO THE ABOVE-MENTIONED CHALLENGE

A majority of internet users access blocked websites through VPNs. China is aware of this, hence, it has come up with methods to block access via VPN behind its firewall. Alternatives to western websites can be used when the VPN is not working.

YOUTUBE ALTERNATIVES

Youku Tudou has features that are similar to YouTube. The videos on Youku Tudou are developed by the users to be viewed by other users, just like YouTube.

FACEBOOK ALTERNATIVES

After Facebook was banned in China, people in China used WeChat. WeChat is popular and accepted in China and a majority of the citizens use it for various purposes including booking taxis to posting memorable moments.

The Chinese version of Facebook is called Renren. The website is accepted and popular in China.

TWITTER ALTERNATIVES

Twitter was banned in China. Alternatively, people in China use Weibo to share their thoughts, perceptions, and opinions. Weibo is the most popular blogging platform in China. Weibo enables virtual artists to promote their work on the platform.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "A digital celebrity is a digitally created avatar/character that is made initially for entertainment purposes. You could call them fake influencers or fake celebrities, but in my mind, because of how inauthentic human celebrities can be, a more precise term is required."
Quotes
  • "These entertainers are called “virtual YouTubers,” or “VTubers,” and are represented by digital avatars that look like anime characters. Almost exclusively a Japanese phenomenon, at least so far, these virtual talents have proliferated rapidly over the past several months and people in the industry, together with observers, predict the movement will only accelerate."
  • "It’s quite similar to what human YouTubers do, such as recording themselves playing video games, trying new apps, singing, dancing and live streaming their chats with viewers. The Tokyo-based data research firm User Local Inc. announced last week that the number of VTubers had topped 4,000. Only about 2½ months earlier the figure stood at around 2,000."
  • "According to User Local, which also compiles virtual YouTuber rankings, the character called Kizuna Ai has the biggest fan base with more than 2 million followers. Kaguya Luna stands at No. 2 with 750,000 followers, while Mirai Akari has about 625,000."
  • "“We’ve had some auditions and realized that there are really creative people in this world,” said Tsukamoto, whose agency supports popular VTubers like Mirai Akari and Nekomiya Hinata."
Quotes
  • "Her name Kizuna Ai (キズナアイ) means Love Connection, but it has a double meaning because Ai is the acronym of Artificial Intelligence. Kizuna's gimmick is to pretend she is the First A.I. to become a "Virtual Youtuber"."
Quotes
  • "Although it is a digression, the most famous Kizunaai sometimes misunderstands that other characters are artificial intelligence settings due to self-designation of AI, but this also has different settings."
Quotes
  • "Kaguya Luna (輝夜月, lit. Sparking Night Moon) is a Female Japanese Virtual YouTuber."
  • "Loves: Blood, Chatting, Singing, Playing Video Games Hates: Dancing Her dream is to become "The YouTuber that can give everyone smiles". Luna is energetic, free spirited, and in stark contrast to many popular female VTubers, is quite vulgar and can be insulting to her viewers as well (though it is always in good natured fun)."
Quotes
  • "Hacka Doll(ハッカドール) are a group of Japanese Virtual Youtubers, also navigators from the Hacka Doll news app and characters from the anime series of the same name. The channel mainly features Hacka Doll #1 (female, blonde hair) but there is also a video with #3 (male, blue hair), and Hacka Doll #2 (female, pink hair)."
  • "Hacka Doll #1 is very energetic and always optimistic, but somewhat klutzy. Hacka Doll #2 is quiet and reserved compared to #1, but is quite airheaded herself."
Quotes
  • "Dennou Shojo Siro (電脳少女シロ, lit. Computer Girl Siro but meaning Cyber-girl Siro) is a Female Japanese Virtual Youtuber who debuted on June 28, 2017"
  • "Siro has several appearances. Her current one is the one which she wears a blue snow jacket with a matching blue hat. Her other appearances are similar to a goddess, while another is with a blue skirt."
Quotes
  • "Mirai Akari (ミライアカリ, 未来明 lit. Future Light) is a Female Japanese Virtual YouTuber who debuted on October 27, 2017."
  • "Mirai Akari has blond hair tied in a side ponytail with a butterfly-shaped blue ribbon. She has blue eyes and a slender yet voluptuous body. Her Bust/Waist/Hip measurements are 90/55/86 centimeters (35/22/34 in)"
Quotes
  • "Nekomiya Hinata (猫宮ひなた) is a female Japanese Virtual YouTuber who debuted on February 11, 2018"
  • "Nekomiya Hinata is very lazy, speaking in a dull and tired-sounding tone of voice. Nekomiya Hinata loves playing video games, especially FPS games. Her skill in FPS games is very good. She does not like horror games, particularly ones with ghosts as they cannot be killed with guns. She also does not really consider zombie games to be horror games for this very reason."
Quotes
  • "Tsukino Mito (月ノ美兎) is a female Japanese Virtual YouTuber, a well-dressed and well-spoken 16-year-old high school "iinchou" (委員長, class president). She is a member of (and currently the most popular in number of subscribers) the Nijisanji group. She is in the "JK gumi" (high school girl gang) along with Shizuka Rin and Higuchi Kaede."
  • "Mito is a sophomore high school student. She has a tsundere, seiso (wholesome) personality nature while trying to be a serious class president. Even though she does her best, she slightly feels her efforts are in vain. She often wonders if she spoke too much after giving a speech and feel depressed afterward."
Quotes
  • "Nora Cat (のらきゃっと, lit. Wild Cat) is a Female Japanese Virtual Youtuber who first debuted on April 15, 2017 on Nicovideo and later debuted on December 23, 2017 on Youtube."
  • "Nora Cat called herself as Virtual Sidome Bishojo Youtuber. She has a black gothic lolita fashion dress, silver hair, red soulless eyes and cat ears. Nora Cat usually broadcasts on Youtube Live that uses Kinect for motion capture, Wii Remote for face motion and video controls, Voiceroid for creating voice and real time auto subtitles."
Quotes
  • "Oda Nobuhime (織田信姫) is a female Japanese Virtual YouTuber partially based on the famous 16th century feudal lord Oda Nobunaga (織田信長)."
  • "She advertised her QWOP let's play video on YouTube, gaining a large number of views and attracting many non-VTuber viewers of multiple languages, some of which were confused by the concept. Apparently she has an obsession with Haruto Domyoji of the Game Club Project, as he is the subject of several of her videos."
Quotes
  • "Takehana Note (竹花ノート) is a male Japanese Virtual YouTuber. Has been called 'mama' as he is the illustrator behind some well-known characters including Shizuka Rin and Ienaga Mugi. He uses a pitch changer most of the time, which makes him sound like a girl. He doesn't try to hide it and even takes it off from time to time."
Quotes
  • "Higuchi Kaede (樋口楓) is a female Japanese Virtual YouTuber, who is part of the Nijisanji group. She is also part of the "JK gumi" group along with fellow VTubers Tsukino Mito and Shizuka Rin."
  • "She is friendly but somewhat unsure of herself. She is sometimes referred to using the words "CHOTTO" (ちょっと!) or "hetero" (ヘテロ). Those stem from a (not publicly recorded) livestream where a fan sent her lesbian fanart (a parody of the Yuri series Citrus) involving her and Tsukino Mito, and Kaede responded indignantly with those words."
From Part 02
Quotes
  • "Youtube is blocked in China. The video sharing website has been blocked in China since 2009, and was among one of the first social media websites to get blocked by the Great Firewall of China. Youtube, which is owned by Google, allows users to access videos created by users from around the world"
  • "Most of Google’s services are blocked in China, although Google’s main search is often unblocked in China at different times. "
  • "Youtube is not the only social media website blocked in China. Facebook was also blocked in 2009, along with Twitter, Picasa, Blogspot and Vimeo. As these social media websites are based in Western countries (mostly the United States), China cannot force them to filter content for Chinese users. In that situation, China opts to block the website’s access altogether"
  • "Accessing Youtube in China is still possible through a VPN. A VPN, or virtual private network, allows you to route your internet traffic through a private, encrypted connection. The service will connect you to a remote server which then allows you access to an ISP where your desired websites are not blocked."
  • "China is well aware of the fact that many internet users are accessing blocked websites using VPNs. As such, the country has employed various methods to block VPN access behind its Great Firewall."
Quotes
  • " YOUTUBE ALTERNATIVES a. Youku; While there's not an English interface, you can run the website through Microsoft Translate, like this. b. Tudou; very similar to Youku, Tudou is great for movie streaming too. It's Chinese name literally means "Potato"."
  • " FACEBOOK ALTERNATIVES a. WeChat; if you don't have WeChat and you live in China... you're missing out on a huge world of possibilies. "
Quotes
  • "Chinese facebook alternative or other equivalent options to the most popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Youtube WhatsApp and more that we all use today"
Quotes
  • "The direct translation for Wanghong is “digital celebrities” which draw parallels with Western YouTubers and Instagram bloggers. Due to China’s Internet firewall, the digitization of China’s social economy is currently being hosted on an Internet environment parallel to the rest of the world, resulting in the development of a UGDC ecosystem with unique and differentiating characteristics. "