Yoshiko Going Viral

In Weekly Pro-Wrestling #2066 Yoshiko and Airi DX were interviewed about Yoshiko’s recent rise to TikTok fame. Airi DX is the daughter of former-AJW ring announcer Nagaharu Imai, a TikTok creator in her own right, and is currently producing Yoshiko’s videos. DX is pronounced Deluxe.

ShuPro: So is this first time that you both have arranged to meet up?

Yoshiko: Airi-chan is the head of Seadlinnng’s PR department and she’s done dance performances in the ring, but we haven’t met up just the two of us before. We hadn’t really talked properly before either, but in the last month since I started uploading videos on TikTok we’ve become friends. We’ve gotten to know each other better just on LINE. (Haha)

Airi DX: It’s like we met on a dating app. (Haha)

Yoshiko: We’ve been video calling each other all day.

SP: Is it nice to meet in person finally?

Yoshiko: Yeah it is. Being on the phone all day hurt my eyes, because I wasn’t used to it. (Haha) Thanks to this interview I’ve been able to meet Airi-chan for the first time since I went viral, and appreciate all the things she’s done.

SP: It’s good to see your achievements through fresh eyes isn’t it?

Yoshiko: Honestly, I really appreciate Airi-chan’s awesomeness.

SP: Airi-san, how did you start producing Yoshiko’s TikTok videos?

Airi: I used to watch Seadlinnng before I became a nurse and lost touch, but when I quit working as a nurse and set my sights on becoming a creative Nana-chan (Nanae Takahashi) gave me a call. When I was a high school student I had the opportunity to be asked to be the “high school chair of the PR department” of Seadlinnng. I’d given up that role, but in January and February of this year I started doing the same job. I thought for a long time that I couldn’t do anything to help Seadlinnng. How could I get young people to come to shows? So the first thing I did was call other creatives and ask them to come with me to shows, but then the coronavirus happened and I was stuck at home. So I thought about it – I felt like if I produced anyone’s TikTok videos I could get them over 10,000 followers, and when I had taught Yoshiko-chan how to use an editing app she was really quick to pick it up and had done some editing. This time round I figured that I could ask her to make TikToks, and I really like Yoshiko-chan, so I sent a LINE message to Nana-chan saying “can I produce [Yoshiko’s] TikTok videos?” She just replied with, “if Yoshiko says it’s fine then I guess it’s fine?” (Haha) So I wrote a long, passionate message to Yoshiko-chan saying something like “you have to really commit to making these TikTok videos. Let’s (increase your fanbase and) sell out Korakuen Hall!”

Yoshiko: Since we can’t hold shows or anything while we have to stay at home, I didn’t really know what the best way to express myself on social media was. I basically never updated it. So I thought it was a great opportunity. It’s the sort of thing that could only happen right now, so I was up for it.

SP: So you started uploading videos every day for a month.

Airi: Yes. I said, “why don’t I produce everything?” Today (May 13th) is the final day!

SP: What was the first video that you uploaded?

Yoshiko: It was an Ayumi Hamasaki video, like a duet. After I uploaded it to TikTok I posted it on Twitter and it was the first time I got over 1,000 likes.

Airi: And then it was viewed 30 or 40,000 times.

Yoshiko: Since that was the first time I got over 1,000 likes I was really happy about it.

SP: Did you make TikTok videos before this?

Yoshiko: I had an account, but I’d made like one video. And it was about two years ago. I only had about ten followers.

SP: So that was quite amazing.

Airi: She gained 20,000 followers in two weeks – her followers went up by 10,000 in just a day and a half, she had an article written about her in Modelpress, she was followed and retweeted by major YouTubers. She broke 200,000 followers two days ago. It took three weeks to get to 100,000 and just one more week to get to 200,000. It took me two years to get to 200,000 followers. Yoshiko-chan broke past that mark in less than one month.

SP: Why do you think your numbers blew up like this?

Airi: First of all, lower and middle school students and young people know TikTokers more than they know celebrities from TV. They talk about TikTok in class. Hanging out together means making TikTok videos together. It’s so influential now that there are lots of people who have made their modelling debut, or become big name singers, or gotten on TV because of TikTok, it’s becoming a branch of business. It’s a medium that business has to pay attention to.

Yoshiko: If you want to become famous, TikTok is the fastest way.

SP: Did you envision getting over 200,000 followers this quickly?

Airi: It was so fast I couldn’t believe it. I thought that Yoshiko-chan would definitely be able to get to 30,000 followers within a month. Even for people who are the same level as me, there are people who are always on 1,000 followers, and lots of people who never get to 10,000 followers. I don’t think there’s a precedent for going this viral in such a short amount of time. There’s only a small number of people who make it into the top ten of the TikTok most popular rankings, and they’re mostly the level of celebrity entertainers, but Yoshiko-chan made it to number two.

SP: That’s amazing.

Airi: It’s incredible! Yoshiko-chan won’t be able to walk around Disney Land or down Takeshita Street in Harajuka (because she’ll be mobbed by people). In fact, she’s now got the most Twitter followers of any joshi wrestler in Japan!

Yoshiko: Yep, it’s over 100,000.

Airi: She’s gone viral on Twitter too, it’s too much. TikTok is for the kids, but on Twitter you’ve also got adults seeing you. So Yoshiko-chan is now popular among a wide variety of age groups. Before she started TikTok Yoshiko-chan had 4,000 followers on Twitter, so getting to 100,000 followers in such a short time is like someone’s YouTube channel going viral and getting 1,000,000 subscribers.

Yoshiko: Regardless of what I posted on Twitter, my follower count never went up. So I only posted bits and pieces about wrestling. I thought that was all that was required.

Airi: It’s amazing! It’s something that I want more people in the world of wrestling to understand. For example, now Yoshiko-chan is going to be mentioned on the front cover of Weekly Pro-Wrestling. And I think kids who have never watched pro wrestling will be interested in a copy.

Yoshiko: There are things that are difficult to get across if you just talk about pro wrestling.

Airi: And now a joshi wrestler is being talked about on morning and evening tv shows. People are feeling stressed because they can’t leave their homes due to the coronavirus, so these kind of fun topics are making people happy.

SP: What sort of videos did you post next?

Yoshiko: I started with the Ayumi Hamasaki video, and then since at home training videos were popular I uploaded some of those, and then I started uploading cooking videos – the first thing I made was Winnie the Pooh made of scrambled eggs on toast, and after that I started going viral.

Airi: Making normal food or sweets is pointless. We searched for music and hashtags that are popular on Instagram (like #homecafe/お家カフェ), combined them, and then Yoshiko-chan made them.

Yoshiko: If I just made things I really want to make the normal way I’m sure I wouldn’t have become popular.

SP: So if you didn’t have the know-how you wouldn’t have known how to do it?

Yoshiko: Not at all. And if it was just me, I wouldn’t have made the Tom Nook cookies! (Haha)

SP: I also felt there’s a gap between your scary look and the cute contents of the videos – was that intentional?

Airi: Of course, and the most popular video we uploaded yesterday was making ‘A Crocodile Who Will Die In 100 Days’ [100日後に死ぬワニ] cookies, and that manga was really popular on Twitter before right? And the manga artist Yūki Kikuchi retweeted Yoshiko-chan’s Tweet. He even followed her on Twitter. And Kikuchi-sensei has 1,740,000 Twitter followers.

Yoshiko: I was really happy.

SP: You’ve got your finger on the pulse of popular culture.

Airi: That on it’s own would be big news!

SP: Is this something that you want to connect to future shows?

Airi: Yoshiko-chan now has 200,000 followers. So far Seadlinnng’s Korakuen Hall attendances, honestly they haven’t been that great. That’s a conversation about what will happen (when shows start again). It’s something that concerns economics, and something that concerns people having influence. It would be great for the business of pro wrestling if there was a new superstar, and this is something that joshi pro wrestling should pay attention to. They should be paying attention to Seadlinnng.

SP: Spoken like a true head of PR!

Airi: We’re using social media to introduce people to the promotion, but that’s not all Yoshiko-chan wants to do.

Yoshiko: Honestly, it’s still like a dream. We can’t really go outside and we can’t hold matches, so I can’t really experience things. But the numbers are blowing up. The numbers of viewers is increasing and the number of comments is increasing. I’m excited! (Haha)

Airi: So far she has put all her effort into Seadlinnng’s authentic joshi pro wrestling. I think the reason why she went viral is her foundation as a joshi pro wrestler. And even in her private life she’s polite and kind. Because of that I think that Yoshiko-chan was the perfect person to go viral. You can say this about any sort of business, but if you’re superficial and don’t have your heart in it then no matter how much you try and project an image on social media you won’t become popular. That’s the difference between Yoshiko-chan and other people. If young people see the intense fights at a Seadlinnng show live just once then they will be captivated. For kids pro wrestling is exciting and new!

SP: The matches at Seadlinnng definitely would be. And how can you get lots of people to see that? If you can use this to get lots of young people to come and talk about it on social media that would be an incredible PR move. This has been a door that’s been closed until now.

Airi: If we can open that door then it will surely change joshi pro wrestling. Seadlinnng and Yoshiko-chan are going to be at the head of this new era.

Yoshiko: It’s essential to link this to pro wrestling – I want to be a person who brings lots of people to our shows.

SP: I’m looking forward to what happens when the pandemic is over.

Yoshiko: Just watch us! We’re going to make a new future so keep your eyes on us you bastards. Cheers!

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