OTAGROUP, a Japanese entertainment company, has announced the launch of the Meta Grandma Project, a VTuber project aiming at debuting elderly talents, with the tagline “it's not too late to take on challenges, no matter how old you are”.
- As part of the project, Meta Grandma has introduced Hiroko, as the debut member of its Gen 0.
- Hiroko is described as an 85-year old grandmother from Hiroshima. She was told by her ‘stupid grandson’ to explore being a virtual idol.
- At the moment, Hiroko has reached over 200,000 followers on Twitter and has over 30,000 subscribers on YouTube, which she recently celebrated.
- OTAGROUP is also opening up auditions for new members, with applicants must be 75 years old or older and are native of Japan. However, the group unfortunately respectfully declines applicants who are medically diagnosed with dementia.
- Other requirements include those who can sing well, and have family members that can support their work and also appear during certain activities.
The ‘Meta Grandma’ project by OTAGROUP was made possible by the Watanabe Memorial Foundation, described as an independent, private foundation based in Tokyo, established to promote new technologies and contribute to social and economic development by encouraging and financially supporting research studies related to science and technology.
- The project was conceptualized by the cram school Mirai Juku under its theme ‘EverWonder’. The concept was made by 14-year old school attendees, who are envisioned to contribute to the future of the entertainment industry in Japan.
- The project seems a promising look into how Japan’s growing elderly population can stay active. According to recent statistics, Japanese people of 75 years and above make up 15% of the country’s population as of September this year. This is around 19.37 million people.
- A 5-year cohort study done by Iwasa et. al. (2012) concluded that longitudinal inverse relationship between hobby participation and cognitive decline among elderly Japanese community-dwelling individuals, suggesting that engaging in a hobby in later life can contribute to preserving cognitive function.
- The state of Japan’s aging population has been a focus theme of some thought-provoking media regarding the status of the Japanese elderly population. For instance, the recent Cannes entry “Plan 75” tackles a fictional Japan where citizens aged 75 and above are given the option — and are strongly encouraged — to be euthanized for free.
- However, media encouraging Japanese elderly to go out of their comfort zones has also been popping. For instance, the current anime Eternal Boys tackles the formation of an idol group consisting of middle-aged men.
- There is hope to be expected with the Meta Grandma project and how it will utilize digital connections to encourage elderly talents to go out of their comfort zone.