Margaret Lillian Adams, better known as Magibon, is a 24 year old YouTuber who became an Internet celebrity in Japan simply by staring at her webcam. Back in 2008, the Institute’s scientist emeritus JamieDubs gave a profile report on Magibon, but we decided it’s about time to do some catching up and get the latest scoop from our favorite starry-eyed camgirl.
Q: To start off, could you bring us all up to speed about the latest goings on in the world of Magibon? There hasn’t been much English-language coverage of what you have been up to since your first tour of Japan in 2008.
A: If you look back at some old interviews, you can find where I mentioned a singer a couple times. The reason was that he had contacted me through his talent agency before I first came to Japan. I didn’t even know who he was at first but I thought it was cool that he noticed me, so I took an interest. In early 2009, we started talking in person and he was very charming but his agency was constantly harassing and threatening me. I told him about it and he said not to worry about them, but then it got a lot worse. I didn’t hear from the guy again. Shortly after that I ended up without a place to sleep for 2 or 3 months, which became a miserable situation. For the past year I’ve just been thinking what to make of the world.
Q: Would you consider yourself a success story when it comes to the YouTube Partner Program? I recall one of your recent videos where you are on a billboard.
A: Some cool stuff has happened to me but I don’t think I’m a success story. You are thinking of the sign outside of Yodobashi Akiba… that was fun.
Q: How would you describe being embraced by a foreign community? Is the language and culture barrier still an issue after so many years?
A: It hasn’t been that long, has it? I never experienced the culture shock that people talk about. I loved Japan when I first came here and I love it now. I wish I could express myself more eloquently in Japanese, though.
Q: Do you consider your own videos to be strange at times? Would you also consider Magibon to be a separate persona or character?
A: I always consider my videos to be strange. I watch them and think, “Why am I so weird?” but that’s who I really am. Not that it’s anything to be proud of, but it’s not fake.
Q: You aren’t the only English-speaking YouTuber on Japan’s Most Subscribed list. We also have users like Miss Hannah Minx, Beckii Cruel, and Danny Choo who have found their own little niches as well. Actually, a healthy chunk of Japan’s Top 100 Subscribed speak English. Any guesses as to why this is?
A: That’s because so much of the fanbase is outside of Japan. It’s a double audience. Also, YouTube is a pretty global place so maybe a lot of the people there just happen to speak multiple languages.
Q: Do you believe there is a gender skew when it comes to exposure and celebrity on the Japanese web? Do you feel is it easier for women to become internet famous in Japan as opposed to other countries?
A: It seems like Japanese males on the internet don’t even want to show their faces or say their names. That can’t compete with people who are putting it all out there, which is what so many of the girls are doing. Plus, the guys focus mostly on what they are saying or doing and the videos themselves are often not much to look at.
Girls tend to put more thought into aesthetics. Videos are moving pictures, so if they are pleasing to the eye people will click on the thumbnails, and probably come back to watch more.
Q: How does the communication towards your fans work? Is there like a rough percentage of how often you use English or Japanese or situations where you would prefer to use one or the other? Has being immersed in the language and culture helped?
A: In whichever language the person speaks to me, I speak to them. Sometimes they start out speaking English but are obviously uncomfortable so I tell them I can understand a little Japanese. The language and culture are less intimidating now that I’ve been here a while.
Q: What can we expect to see from you in the near future?
A: More nothingness, probably.
Q: Finally, what are your favorite internet memes?
A: I don’t know if there’s a name for it, but I like the ones where they zoom in on someone’s face and when they zoom out, everyone in the picture has that face (See Tenso and Facebomb). That, and anything to do with animals.
For more information on Magibon’s YouTube stardom, you can check out KYMdb – Magibon. As always, you can see all of Magibon’s videos on her YouTube channel and she is now posting on her own Japanese language blog. This interview was conducted over e-mail by AJ Mazur in February 2011.