AniManGaki 2023 in Malaysia was home to the annual Malaysian VTuber Showcase, shedding a spotlight on 71 local VTubers and featuring 28 others. Aside from that, the event was also host to a special collaboration between local agencies.
On the Spotlight is ACG x Agency, a collaboration between Project Orbit, Hoshizora Entertainment, Projek Hikayat and CoolnKultured (CnK).
AXA's Reason for Being
ACG x Agency's project leader and Project Orbit founder Zee San spoke to NewsDrop regarding this initiative with a goal is to gather increased recognition for VTubers in the country: "In Malaysia, VTubers has shown promising growth, although it has been observed that its subscriber numbers are lagging behind those of neighboring countries. To address this gap and elevate the local VTuber industry, a strategic initiative known as AXA has been established."
As a marketing platform, AXA targets Malaysia's anime, comics and gaming culture: "At its core, AXA seeks to captivate the attention of Anime, Comics, and Gaming (ACG) enthusiasts, spotlighting the potential of Malaysian VTubers to attain the same level of professionalism as their international counterparts.
"By consolidating various VTuber agencies, AXA becomes a centralized hub, offering a comprehensive showcase of the diverse and captivating Vtuber talents nurtured within these agencies."
Why is there a Need to Band Together
Being a part of AXA means tapping to a network of industry professionals, potential sponsors, and fellow content creators.
"The unity among these agencies under the AXA banner serves as a powerful beacon. Its purpose extends beyond just showcasing individual talents; it acts as a catalyst for attracting potential sponsors, investors, and local industries.
By showcasing the value and versatility of VTubers as effective marketing tools, AXA aims to open new doors for collaborations and partnerships. Through this unified front, the combined strengths of the agencies form a compelling proposition for businesses looking to leverage this innovative form of promotion."
We also got in touch with Hoshizora, Projek Hikayat and CoolnKultured and asked them why they joined. CoolnKultured founder Nik Muaz Hakim (Nimu) found its structure beneficial: "Me and my co-founders in CnK, Farah Adiba and Hamsktar has always work together collectively as fellow content creator ever since we were established [in] May 2020.
"Because of how AXA is structured which is working collectively among other like-minded agencies and together with Cafetiam, an extraordinary artist group guarding our rear. We said cool, why not?
"The ironic twist is, the reason CoolnKultured and Project Orbit connected with each other was because of a blind business date Spirited Smile [CnK artist] had organized earlier."
Hoshizora's managing director Chong Ziqi (Zeeky) said they want to work with like-minded groups: "Hoshizora has always wanted to work together with other agencies that share the same goals and understanding towards the industry, but we've never had the thought to do a collaborative effort among agencies like what Zee did.
"The funny thing was, the main reason why Project Orbit's Zee contacted us in the first place was because I shared the same name as him and we were joking around for some time around streams and on Twitter. So, when Zee approached us for this collaboration, there was no need for doubt, it just clicked."
Projek Hikayat co-founder Jonathan Yen took a page from the 2021 film Dune for his response: "We are Projek Hikayat. There is no call we do not answer. There is no faith that we betray. AXA asked us to help the community. Projek Hikayat accepted."
How was ACG x Agency Received at AniManGaki?
Everyone at AXA confidently told NewsDrop that their efforts are going to flourish. Project leader Zee spoke first: "AniManGaki was Project Orbit's first booth experience, and we received overwhelmingly positive feedback among the local VTuber community as well as gaining interest of several business owners who are fairly new to VTubing. We enjoyed the opportunity to explain what, who, how and why VTubers are becoming more relevant to the general public."
"Although our talents haven't debuted yet, we are testing out a different way to market them before their debut. As for Taka Kazuki, he performed a Live DJ Performance and also involving the Malaysian Book of Records; and [as for] Elfie vers Amastacia, we invited a special guest, a returning cosplayer and cosplay craftswoman, Ain, to cosplay as Elfie."
"The experience has been incredible! It was the first time CoolnKultured had organised a physical event together with our members, and we had ton of fun! Not only that, [but] we also had the best neighbours on all sides. What more could we ask for? It was a blessing to meet everyone from [Project Orbit], [Projek Hikayat] and [Hoshizora]," Nik from CoolnKultured followed.
While Hoshizora frequents AniManGaki as visitors, their collab with AXA was the first time they had a booth. Zeeky says: "It was our first experience boothing in AMG and man was it fun, the experience was needless to say, ecstatic. Our team always had fond memories of AMG as participants/visitors, and when this day arrived for us to finally be exhibitors of AMG, that feeling felt surreal.
"Before Zee approached us for this collab, we thought we would be doing this alone but knowing that we had [Orbit], [Hikayat] and [CoolnKultured] as our neighbours, we definitely had a lot more fun while doing the work needed and being able to joke around and discuss with like-minded people, well, I can't imagine not having them around with us."
On the other hand, Projek Hikayat was no stranger in presenting itself at events, but Jonathan felt more relaxed with their AniManGaki presence through AXA. "Considering that Projek Hikayat has boothed at events in Borneo villages, carparks, gun ranges, and tiny stalls in Malaysia and Singapore. AMG was considered quite chill for us to be a part of since we [exhibited] with like-minded organisations in AXA."
Is this Collaboration Beneficial Among its Partners?
For the ACG x Agency partners, this collaboration is mutually beneficial. Nimu spoke about their experience in fulfilling the needs of the project: "Talking for [CoolnKultured], I think it has been most beneficial for us especially among artists because of how well we followed the deadlines to finish the art and prints on time as well as networking with big players on the industry. Very beneficial indeed!"
Jonathan shared his happiness talking with everyone behind the scenes: "Why of course! Great to have our first-time experience working with like-minded people and being able to chat with them behind the counter. Usually, Projek Hikayat is used to working with clients or non-ACG related organisations so this was considered a treat."
Zeeky appreciates that this collaboration got the attention of other big players in Malaysia's ACG scene: "Definitely, by being part of a collaborative effort all started by Zee, people are definitely more aware of us, and we definitely piqued the interest of many big players in the industry.
"Being able to network and discuss further on the future of this industry has proved the potential of this market. That said, there is always room for improvement, and we can't wait to collaborate more in the future as we strive for the better."
Is AXA Open to Other VTuber Groups in Malaysia?
Now that AXA's first foray was held successfully, are they open to accepting other collaborators? Zee responds: "Definitely! As the slogan for AXA—'One Community. One Goal.' As long as we share the same passion for VTubing.
"There is hardly much difference between us already. Malaysia is rather small compared to our neighboring countries, and it's part of our job to bring the local VTuber scene to the next level.
"Based on our recent success in Animangaki, there is so much we can achieve with AXA. We hope to improve more and bring together larger like-minded agencies in the future."
To cap things off, I asked what we should expect with AXA now and in the future. "I believe by expanding the VTuber community in Malaysia would bring more opportunities not just for us, but for everyone else as well. There is a lot of untapped market where VTubers can involve themselves with.
"We hope to return to AniManGaki next year with an even stronger approach—or perhaps, with even more agencies involved."