Japan has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to virtual idols. From ‘90s digital pop star Kyoko Dake to aqua-haired Vocaloid avatar Hatsune Miku, non-physical performers have intrigued Japanese audiences for quite some time. So, it’s fitting that the country will be the first to get a live venue dedicated entirely to virtual acts, one fittingly only found in the VR world.
Organised by a company called Iwamotocho Entertainment, the forthcoming Iwamotocho Theater plans to be a space where fans can take in virtual idol shows. It’s the world’s first digital space devoted to such performances. Prior to this announcement, fans would need to go to special live shows in the physical world to see performers such as Miku, or they would have to just watch videos on the web. They couldn’t count on any consistent place to check them out.
So how does Iwamotocho Theater work? All potential viewers need is an internet connection and VR goggles. Log on, put on the headgear and head into the theater, and you’ll get to watch a performance surrounded by other folks checking out the virtual digs. The utilisation of VR technology for idol shows has been hinted at before - one of the earliest demos for VR technology was a Hatsune Miku concert - but this adds a community feel to it, too. It’s planned to arrive in 2018.
In case you need more proof that the virtual idol market is going strong, let’s check out Antama. This duo, consisting of “members” Anzu Suzuki and Tamaki Shirafuji, signed with major label Universal Music Japan. They aren’t real humans, in case you couldn’t tell. But they’ve amassed a solid online following, and seem poised to do big things in 2018, including probably play Iwamotocho Theater.
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