Japanese Virtual Influencers, also known as virtual idols are gaining popularity both domestically and internationally, thanks to modern technology and social media platforms in Japan. These Japanese digital avatars are redefining the way we view human content such as music, videos, modelling, fashion, and lifestyle. They capture the attention and engagement of not just Japanese Gen-Z generations, but also brand owners. Virtual Influencers are not to be confused with VTubers, who are virtual avatars and mainly focus on live streaming.
Influencers play a significant role in consumer purchasing behaviour in Japan. Research carried out by JapanBuzz in 2023 showed that 45% of people surveyed in Japan (of a 1000 target group) reported that they would purchase products based on influencer and celebrity posts. 25% also stated that Virtual Influencers have a similar impact to human influencers.
Virtual influencers in Japan, which mainly appear on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok have some advantages over regular influencers. Virtual influencers are made using 3D software, AI tools, real-life edited photography and Photoshop. Many of these virtual celebrities look like real humans, each with their personality, likes, and dislikes. Virtual influencers are similar to human influencers but are fully managed by their creators. From caption to image the creators aim to create the ‘ideal’ influencer. The ability to customise virtual human personality in a more controlled way can be more effective than the traditional way that influencers in Japan reach various audiences.
Virtual celebrities or virtual Instagrammers can also reach a larger audience given the fact that they can break the language barrier. Some virtual influencers in Japan are not limited to the Japanese language, connecting worldwide using English. This means that they can have a higher influence on the audience and a higher chance of gaining fans, followers, and sponsors.
This list of the best Virtual Influencers in Japan might include the perfect choice for showcasing your brand.
The Top 10 Japanese Virtual Influencers
1. Hatsune Miku
Hatsune Miku is a virtual idol, famous for her blue-green twin-tail hairstyle. She first appeared in 2007 and unlike other virtual influencers, she doesn’t look human but more like an anime character and performs concerts using 3D imaging. She is an icon in Japan as a virtual singer, filling up concert halls with her computer-generated voice. This digital personality went on a World Tour, “The Miku Export” which made her well-known in other countries, not just Japan.
Imma is a Japanese virtual model who appeared on Instagram in 2018 and is known for her infamous bubble gum pink bob. She is also known for her fashion sense and has collaborated with global brands such as Burberry and Ferragamo. She has also participated in many NFT art collaborations.
Fans are drawn not only to her appearance but also to the humble responses she gives in interviews. Imma is a very curious virtual influencer to the point that she questions her own identity using the hashtag #ithinkimcgi. Also, this digital personality likes visiting art museums and is very vocal on issues regarding race and gender.
She has a global audience, posting mainly in English. In recent years, she has also collaborated with big brands like IKEA, Nike, Amazon, Dior, Puma, Calvin Klein, Valentino, and Lenovo. She is the biggest commercial virtual influencer in Japan.
Plusticboy also known as Zinn can be seen accompanying his sister Imma on museum tours. As Imma’s brother, Zinn has a cool personality and is a virtual male model in Japan. However, this virtual influencer also has a very mysterious personality. Zinn hasn’t revealed his age yet.
He loves music and has appeared on various magazine covers such as “Uniform Magazine”. His visuals are proven to be “worth staring at” and he was featured during Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo.
Ria is the creation of the first virtual human company in Japan, Aww Inc. She’s known for referring to herself as a ”Newman”. She believes she exists between the real and virtual world, exploring various places to understand her place in it. She has a curious personality, especially when trying new things.
This Japanese virtual influencer works as a fashion model both in Japanese magazines and across the globe. Aside from that, her Instagram posts show some lifestyles in Japan that others might not know. She even has her own love life and can often be seen hanging out with her boyfriend Plusticboy.
Te’resa is a Japanese-American female Virtual Singer and Influencer operating on YouTube and Instagram, recently te’resa became a virtual ai version of herself called Ella or TeresaAi. As a singer she performs and is managed by KAMITSUBAKI STUDIO. Te’resa posts on her Instagram as a trendy young singer, with a love for fashion. She was created by the Japanese 3D artist Hirokazu Yokohara.
6. Liam Nikuro
Liam is a Japanese-American virtual influencer who has a broad international appeal. Tokyo-based 1sec Inc. created this virtual human. He’s presented as someone stylish and good at playing instruments. His character is based in LA and Tokyo.
This virtual influencer in Japan is very active in producing his music, modelling, fashion, and even basketball. Liam attended the NBA bubble with the famous Rui Hachimura and the Wizards.
He also takes a political stand on Asian hate, #BlackLivesMatter and the Ukraine war. It will be interesting to see how his character grows in the future and if he can get to the same popularity level as Imma.
7. Aoi Prism
Aoi is an unusual virtual influencer, as she specifically promotes herself as “Gyaru”. Gyaru is a Japanese word that refers to someone who wears make-up and dresses excessively. Aoi is a Japanese girl who dyes her hair either blonde or brown now and then. Aside from being a gyaru, this virtual influencer in Japan also carries brand-name bags and has good social skills. Aoi takes her style seriously because she believes being photogenic gives her a unique digital personality.
She was created by the creator group “YYZ.” Although she is a character with a sense of intimacy, she also conveys a mysterious feeling.
Ella is a retired fashionable Japanese virtual influencer. She was known for her unique fashion sense and her love for Disney. Maybe she will make a comeback as she has a large following, but only time will tell!
This kawaii virtual influencer from Japan enjoys reading and dressing in a feminine way. She is a virtual influencer from VIM, a model agency dedicated to digital personalities similar to Aoi Prism. Most of her posts are about dressing in different styles such as formal, classic dress and attractive ones. Her bio says she is between a girl and a lady, between fantasy and reality, and between a human and a doll.
Known for her not-so-perfect features and blemished beauty, Meme is a Virtual Influencer’s standard breaker when it comes to beauty. She reflects the diverse view of beauty today which promotes the value that you can still be beautiful even though you have flaws. For this reason, she is a very unique virtual persona among the other virtual influencers.
Working with Japanese virtual influencers and idols
The popularity of virtual influencers is boosted by the fact that there is no need for them to be physically present in any location. Despite the fear that the line between the virtual world and reality will be blurred, they generate a unique chance for companies to have total control of the image of the characters. The rise of virtual influencers in Japan has proven that even computer-generated influencers are able to create engaging content on social media. Also, Virtual influencers are less likely to face legal issues and scandal, unlike human influencers. Virtual influencers in Japan, notably Imma and Hatsune Miku have shown that commercial collaboration can also be effective.