Starting from the 28th of October, thousands of karaoke establishments across Japan will begin offering Finland-related video content, ranging from Visit Finland-produced tourism promotion videos to short anime films the embassy has produced for Finland's 100th anniversary. The date marks the start of the cooperation between the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo and Japan's second largest karaoke equipment and content company XING Inc. under its Joysound brand.
"This is real win-win cooperation – Joysound can offer its users new and attractive Finland-related content, while the embassy can spread knowledge about Finland and share its Fintan animations with a wider audience", embassy's Press & Culture Counsellor Markus Kokko commented. "This is a brilliant opportunity to reach new and larger audiences through public diplomacy."
The cooperation reflects recent shifts in Japan's karaoke business and consumption. In Japan, karaoke is typically enjoyed with friends and colleagues in booths, with hourly rates. According to recent studies, with the country's high population density, karaoke booths are increasingly rented as private hangout places where singing is optional. Groups of friends are renting the booths to chat with each other while playing games and watching videos. Because of this, karaoke companies are seeking to offer alternative forms of entertainment, such as videos and animations.
The anime content were produced as part of the public diplomacy activities celebrating Finland's 100-year anniversary. The main character in the anime's three two-minute long episodes is the embassy's popular twitter persona and mascot, Fintan.
Made by a Japanese production crew, the three episodes' light-hearted and humorous stories were selected from an open, embassy-organized idea contest. The animation aims to further awareness of Finland among the Japanese audience. As of the end of September, the episodes have been watched over 131 000 times across the globe.
The crew was led by the Fintan character's original designer, animator Kenji Itoso, in cooperation with the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo. Fintan's voice is provided by one of Japan's most popular voice actresses, Saori Hayami.
Fintan is usually seen tweeting in Japanese on the Embassy's official twitter account (@FinEmbTokyo), which, with its 133 000 followers, is the 10th most popular embassy twitter account in the world.
The anime can be found on the embassy's Youtube-channel. Subtitles are provided in multiple languages.
The Fintan phenomenon was born in 2012, when Japan's national broadcaster, NHK, began calling the embassy's twitter account "Fintan" – and the name stuck. "Fintan" is a combination of the words "Finland" and "-tan", the latter a term of endearment in Japanese. Fintan's drawn appearance, by Kenji Itoso and Tomohiro Ishi, is the first character to represent the embassy on social media. Fintan himself is a little boy, around 7 years old, with blonde hair and blue eyes, and dressed in a lion costume. He has since become a symbol of Finland on Japanese social media.