Saya (@sayacg), imma (@imma_tw), MEME (© PR Times, Inc.)

Japan’s Top Five Virtual Humans

With continuous advances in computer graphics, photo-realism in games and film have reached an astonishing level of sophistication. This technology has also been put to use in the creation of so-called "virtual humans." Some of them, like Lil Miquela, are known as "virtual influencers," and others like imma, as "virtual models."

Japan has been a major player in this rapidly growing field. Here are Japan's top five virtual humans, in order of appearance:


As we reported before, virtual human Saya has the realistic appearance of a 17-year-old Japanese high school girl. Produced by the husband and wife team TELYUKA (@moejyuka), the Saya project is the oldest but perhaps the most technologically ambitious of all virtual human projects realized in Japan. Not only did she enter and win a prize at the Miss ID 2018 contest, but she is also at the core of an AI project called GUIDE (Graphical User Interface + Deep-learning Experience) in which Saya is proposed as a next-generation GUI system which can express emotions, learn, and communicate with users. In distinction with many Japanese virtual humans who express their presence exclusively through still images, Saya is also animated, as you can see in the videos below:

Twitter: @sayacg


Commissioned by "Producer M" and made with computer graphics by CG modeling specialist company ModelingCafe Inc., imma, whose name is inspired by the Japanese word ima 今 (meaning "now"), has been active on Instagram since July 2018. Interested in Japanese culture and film, she also specifically states on her Twitter profile that she "wants to attract humans to the fashion show." Although she also posts candid shots from her everyday life, imma's fashion pictures have a more polished high-fashion look compared to Aoi Prism who is more attuned to street fashion. She has already graced the cover of CG World magazine (February 2019), appeared in fashion magazine i-D Japan wearing Kate cosmetics in a photo shoot with models Mayben and Aria Asakawa, and posed with KFC's Virtual Influencer Colonel.

Twitter: @imma_tw, Instagram: imma.gram

Aoi Prism

Appearing in February, 2019, Aoi Prism 葵プリズム is a 20-year-old "virtual gyaru" and self-professed otaku produced by the creative collective YYZ. As she has revealed in interviews with and KAI-YOU, this Tokyo native loves fashion brands DOLLS KILL, CYBERDOG, Nφdress, Jenny Fax, Mikio Sakabe, Neglect Adult Patients, BALMUNG and chloma, likes to shop at OHPEARL, dog, and PIN NAP, and listens to Rina Sawayama and Chanmina.

When she's not being featured in magazines or being interviewed, you'll see her posing with real-world creators, models and personalities on her social media accounts. For example, she recently posed with Miyako and her multi-colored ishoku-hada friends at the glitzy Ai Honten host club (see below).

Twitter: @aoiprism, Instagram: Aoi Prism

Niam Likuro

Although he has only recently gained media attention, Japan's first male virtual influencer Liam Nikuro made his appearance on Instagram in March, which is why we listed him before MEME (below) in this order-of-appearance list.

Created by 1sec Inc, a company focusing on fabricating projects in virtual and real spaces, Liam alternates between living in Los Angeles and Tokyo. According to Japan Today, "he is set to work in the fields of music, fashion, and entertainment" and be involved in "producing innovative creative content in combination with AI (artificial intelligence) technology."

Twitter: @liam_nikuro, Instagram: Liam Nikuro


As we reported before, in April 2019, digital contents development and marketing company atali inc. in collaboration with photography, video and talent production company Zarbon and Dodoria, Inc. announced the creation of MEME, a new kind of virtual persona, one who doesn't rely on the technical skills of her image engineers to create perfect features and unblemished beauty, but rather an imperfectly beautiful virtual human with real thoughts as well as a look which reflects the increasingly diverse view of beauty in our society today. Meme "likes art, design and photography and has a "punk" personality. Although she has a bit of a complex about her freckled face and the red patches of skin on her forehead and chin, she also takes a positive view, considering them to be attributes which make her unique."

Not happy with making innocuous statements on her social media accounts, she posts original artwork, comments on her daily life, and doesn't shy away from talking about her thoughts and feelings.

Instagram: meme.konichiwa

More likely than not, virtual humans will continue to appear in Japan beyond the five listed here, so you can expect updates to this article in the months to come!

By - Ben K.