The explanation for the success of Hikaru Kaihatsu, who recently reached 10 million followers on HikakinTV, one of his four YouTube channels, is buried in a 2018 interview with BuzzFeed Japan. When asked about the requirements to work as a YouTuber, Kaihatsu answers, “I believe it is to calmly analyze the current popular trends. What is that person proficient at? How do they adapt to the times?” He could have been speaking about himself.

Kaihatsu, 32, is a wiz at mining the web for trends and adapting them to his carefully molded persona; an Aera Dot commentator mused that he plays “an older brother in the neighborhood who played with me when I was an elementary school student.” While his videos are simple and formulaic, crafted for the short attention spans of children coming of age in an era overloaded with screens and content, his character holds a not-so-hidden power: You can’t help but like him.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.