VShojo has made its first big expansion in two years, bridging into the spiritual home of VTubing, Japan, with Kson and Amemiya Nazuna. It’s more than just two new talents to CEO Justin ‘theGunrun’ Ignacio, with the aim to “break down barriers” across the fandom.
Among all the top VTuber agencies, VShojo has been an anomaly. The company hasn’t opted to expand with new waves every few months, rather focusing on a “talent first” approach to enable a small group of creators at a bigger level.
When they announced their first expansion into the Japanese market after two years in the business, it was made all the sweeter due to this scarcity. However, the debuts of Kson and Amemiya Nazuna were a success even beyond the wildest dreams VShojo had.
From the moment Kson stepped on stage cosplaying herself at Anime Expo, hype has been swirling around two of the biggest pickups in VTubing across 2022. The former broke 30,000 viewers on their first Twitch broadcast under the American agency, while the latter cracked 50,000 as fans from all backgrounds — not just those based in Japan — watched on.
It was a monumental moment for the agency, CEO theGunrun told Dexerto, but it reinforces some core values behind the agency that sets it apart from others.
“Debuting Kson and Nazuna to the world has been a fever dream,” he said.
“We never imagined Anime Expo would provide us such a large stage to pull off Kson’s debut in person — and in full cosplay — to share with the world that she was now part of our organization. We could never have imagined the incredible whirlwind of reactions and support for Nazuna’s reveal either.
“Our partnering with Japanese-speaking VTubers reflects our core value of Talent First. Talent deserves freedom of expression regardless of borders, which is what we offer all our creators.”
The “talent first” approach might seem like a buzzword. Upon hearing it, you’d think every VTuber agency is about the talent — those who bolster the brand to make it what it is. VShojo puts the philosophy to action to an unseen degree though.
There’s big things, like giving talents creative control which ended up being a big reason why Kson decided to hop on board despite an insistence to remain independent. The small stuff matters too — even just simple things like forgoing generations have special meaning.
That’s not to say the rest of the industry is wrong for going in different directions, but there’s a noted difference between the approach VShojo takes versus others.
“By expanding VShojo through signing Kson and Nazuna, we are staying true to our company philosophy of focusing on talent first by building and growing each individual instead of launching multiple generations. Kson and Nazuna are now part of the same generation as the rest of VShojo. We will continue to support as we onboard new talent.”
Bridging the gap between virtual and reality
With VTubing exploding worldwide, there’s something to be said about bridging a gap in audiences. Hololive and NIJISANJI have explored this with collaborations across various waves regardless of language barrier or location.
VShojo took it a step further with their Japanese expansion. Subtitles and live translation was included on Nazuna’s debut stream, which allowed English-speaking viewers to watch on in real-time rather than waiting for fan-subbed clips.
“We are breaking down the location and language barriers between VTubers and their ability to interact with the world like non-VTuber creators,” Gunrun continued.
“As testament, we introduced our live translation subtitles tech through Nazuna’s debut stream, and aim to bridge the gap between the Japanese and English VTuber communities.”
They’re also bringing the virtual into reality. Their fan meetups at Anime Expo, including the little segway rolling across the showfloor with star idols propped up onto a tablet, made VTubing feel tangible.
The reaction it received from both sides was overwhelmingly positive: “Being able to see the fans’ reactions as they got to meet their favorite VTubers is a surreal experience. In the future, we will continue to find new and innovative ways to bring VTubers and the fans together.”
However, all of this wouldn’t be possible without the fans and creators that make VShojo the VTubing powerhouse that it is.
The support doesn’t fall on deaf ears, and it’s pushing the company to continue advancing the industry beyond what people dreamed of just six years ago when it was truly in its infancy.
“To see and hear everyone’s support, especially after how supportive the fans maintained throughout Kson and Nazuna’s announcements and debuts, has been tremendously humbling,” Gunrun said. “It is the fans’ talent and support that drives all of us to do our best and keep pushing on and upwards.”
And, truth be told, it’s a two-way street between star creators and fans: “Being able to see our VTubers be so impacted by meeting their fans through our VIRL [virtual IRL] tech has been humbling.
“We are now even more driven to keep innovating and iterating to bring more of these experiences to future events and more polished systems.”