Introducing itself as "Your virtual ticket to everything Japan," Oh Nippon is a YouTube channel featuring Rina, an elf guide who appeared in the land of the rising sun. It is the first foreign startup business approved by the government of Hokkaido in November 2020.
On this Spotlight feature, we talk to the team behind this startup, as well as Rina the elf herself.
Profiling Oh Nippon
"Our aim at Oh Nippon is to create high-quality content that not only informs and entertains but also spreads positivity. There is far too much negativity in the world, and we want to counteract it with our positive vibes," Shachō (社長), the team's founder, tells VTuber NewsDrop.
By the time this feature was being prepared, its YouTube channel has released more than a hundred videos. Shachō says the production for these videos need their full attention.
"Our team is small, and we face challenges due to limited resources. As a result, producing our work requires significant time and financial investment."
Even so, the nature of their content leads them to reach out to people at the top of various professions. "Not only do we get to witness incredible things, but we also get to interact with the people responsible for them."
In VTuber-speak, permission is sought to do collaborations with partners. You can't just do something without going through the proper steps.
"This approval [by the government of Hokkaido as a foreign startup business] has been instrumental in helping us secure necessary permissions and cooperation from individuals, businesses, and local governments to cover various locations and events."
Their Experiences Behind the Scenes
During their trip to UNESCO creative city of crafts, Kanazawa, they met Mr. Shigeki Matsuda, the third-generation owner of a wagasa (Japanese umbrella) shop with a legendary reputation. Shachō himself cannot forget meeting Mr. Matsuda.
"During our visit, they had the imperial family of Japan's umbrellas in their shop for maintenance. Not only that, but you can also see pictures of Matsuda-san with powerful and influential people. I even saw him in a photo beside Michael Jackson."
Speaking of experiences, we asked Rina what she loves the most about exploring places. "It’s a little hard to choose between the scenery and views, BUT I can never go anywhere without trying all the food. I wish I could eat it all!"
Does that mean elves of Rina's kind can always stay hungry? "Elves have really good metabolism because we need to process a lot of mana! If I don’t get my delicious snacks, my [magical power] will run out and hit 0, and we wouldn’t want that."
With almost-endless food choices Japan alone can offer, no wonder.
Before Rina landed herself as the host of Oh Nippon, she was a total stranger in Japan. Her first stop was an onigiri store, where she became friends with the store's owner. He offered a rice ball (onigiri) to the hungry Rina once, which made the way for the elf to appreciate Japanese cuisine. "Everything is so flavorful no matter how simple. I’m determined to eat all the things!"
Both Rina and her team at Oh Nippon agree that there are just so many things which needed to be explored. Rina enthusiastically reacts, "I think a lot of the time people spend it not noticing all the beauty and cool stuff around them!
"Whether it’s an unknown natural treasure in an overlooked location or even just the neat store tucked away in the bustling street corner, there’s so many interesting things to do, see, and of course, EAT! We’re here to hopefully bring you all these hidden gems."
Looking Forward to More in the Future
Rina, as the VTuber host, looks forward for Oh Nippon as a channel to reach more people and increase interest in Japanese culture. "I think we bring a lot of interesting content to the table that revolutionizes what VTubing could be so I’m really confident about that."
Her goal this year is for the channel to reach at a wider audience and become a top VTuber host. On the lighter side, we did ask Rina if she tried cosplaying.
"Definitely! I even have some cool pictures like... When I cosplayed Ash Ketchum (I can do a really good Ash voice) or [Kazuma] Kiryuu-san from Yakuza! We’ve also memed a bit with Jojo['s Bizarre Adventure] and Dragon Ball; but if I could choose a new cosplay I’d love to be able to do Frieren [Frieren: Beyond Journey's End]! She’s an amazing mage and elf like me!"
This, while nudging Shachō if she can do a cover of Kiryuu's famous song "Baka Mitai."
Oh Nippon already made its presence in the Philippines at the year-end Cosplay Matsuri event, but are there any plans for the upstart channel in the future?
"We want to reach a much wider audience and build a community. We have big plans for the future, but it takes time to realize it. So, for now, stay tuned."