Article by: Ichibo Harada＠HEW
The spread of COVID-19
── If we're talking about 2020, we have to bring up the topic of COVID. What kind of impact did it have on pixiv?
Kuro: The overall number of pixiv posts has increased.
── I guess world events do affect pixiv...
Tada: Let's take a look at active users by language.
You see, in Japan (left image), the number of active users rose dramatically from the beginning of March to Golden Week, then settled down a bit in June, and rose again during the summer vacation season. On the other hand, the number of Simplified Chinese users (right image, red) started to rise in mid-January and settled around the end of April. Since COVID became an issue earlier than in Japan, user activity on pixiv gives forewarning of the Japanese trend. On the other hand, the English-speaking world (right image, green) is a little behind Japan.
January: The number of yuri novels increases x1.5
── 1.5 times more yuri novels! What happened there?
── The 3rd Yuri Literary Fiction Contest is underway right now. How are things looking?
Kuro: About the same as the second contest. This time, however, the contest is divided into a Short Story category and a Medium/Long Story category, so I expect that the number of medium/long story entries will increase rapidly as the deadline of January 31st, 2021 approaches. If that happens, we may get even better results compared to last year. In novel contests (not just the yuri ones), the number of entries suddenly increases just before the deadline. Every year around January, when I see a sudden spike in the number of novel posts, I know it's because the deadline for the Yuri Literary Fiction Contest is getting closer. (laughs)
The first half of the year saw increasing posts and views for "Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun", "Healin' Good Pretty Cure" and "Kaguya-sama: Love Is War"
── I believe the first half of 2020 was especially influenced by anime. I remember Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun got quite a lot of attention while the anime was airing.
── On the other hand, Healin' Good Pretty Cure and Kaguya-sama: Love Is War were already well liked. It's like fans posted their works as a celebration for the start of the anime.
── What about Re: Zero − Starting Life in Another World? The second season of one of the most popular titles of the 2010s started in July.
Mid-February: The number of "Pokémon" novels increases along with views
── Still, in mid-February the games had already been out for three months. What happened there?
Tada: Right after the release, it was mainly male users who drew illustrations of Pokémon and female Trainers. Eventually, female players realized that male Trainers are also pretty cool. I think that's when the number of female users gradually increased, and the anime became a tailwind for even more female fans. For novels, the surge came a little later.
── And it was in February when novels started increasing.
Mid-February: The number of posts about the last chapter of "The Quintessential Quintuplets" increases along with views
── 2020 also marks the end of many works published in Weekly Shōnen Jump, from Haikyuu!! to The Promised Neverland and Chainsaw Man.
── Like an alumni reunion?
The number of posts and views related to "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba" increases after the final installment of the original manga series in late May, the release of the movie in mid-October, and the release of the final volume of the manga in early December
── Speaking about endings, a special mention goes to Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba!
── Rengoku's popularity has been only increasing since the movie came out. Many fans have chosen to post illustrations of the Flame Pillar to commemorate watching Demon Slayer in theaters.
── Who posts more Demon Slayer? Men or women?
Late March: "Disney: Twisted-Wonderland" goes viral
Kuro: Amazing, wasn't it? It was released in late March, a month before both COVID and Golden Week hit, which led many to take refuge in Twisted-Wonderland.
Tada: Term Conversion was introduced to pixiv novels as a beta feature at the beginning of April. I wonder if that had anything to do with the rise in popularity of novels around the same time...?
── It seems like a higher ratio of female pixiv users also play Twisted-Wonderland.
Kuro: I have a feeling that people have a sweet spot for the prefect side of the game.
── Being a prefect is something one can't really experience outside Twisted-Wonderland. That was long overdue.
Mid-May: #sailormoonredraw; late May to June: posts about the Polish puzzle game "Helltaker" increase along with views
── During that time, I used to see #sailormoonredraw illustrations every day. It was a trend that had you drawing Sailor Moon in your favorite style.
── Why do you think the number of English-speaking users is on the rise?
── Is there a trend that was received very differently among international users and Japanese users?
── Unexpected! Next time I meet a Korean otaku, I'll be sure to talk about Helltaker. (laughs)
Early September: "Hololive English" debuts as an international branch of the VTuber talent agency Hololive
── The increase in the number of English-speaking users could also have been influenced by the Hololive English debut, right?
── Novels about VTubers?
The official logo for the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai "Inochi no Kagayaki" trends in late August; in early October, the tag #aijibarannsubu (leg hold pose) is all the rage
── I totally forgot about these trends!
── I did a quick search for "Amabie" and found that Amabie is still being posted consistently.
── There may be more posts of Amabie than posts about my favorite genres...
End of September: Release of the open-world RPG "Genshin Impact"
── This game is by the Shanghai-based company miHoYo, so I suppose that this trend started from Simplified Chinese-speaking users?
Kuro: In the ranking of words searched on pixiv in 2020, Genshin Impact is by far the most popular query. It's more than twice as popular as the other popular tags. What's even more amazing is that the names of the characters Paimon and Keqing also come up in the rankings.
── Wait a second. I feel like we're skipping on a couple of trends from around October, although they were not as big as Genshin Impact.
── Yes, the #aijibarannsubu (standing splits). That was amazing!
End of September: The number of "Ascendance of a Bookworm" novels increases
── Ascendance of a Bookworm is a novel by Miya Kazuki that used to be serialized on the novel publishing website Shōsetsuka ni Narō. The second season of the anime aired from April to June, and it grew so popular that a third season is already in the makings. Even so, it was somewhat surprising to see the fanwork trending.
── I hear that isekai reincarnation stories are pretty popular among mature fans.
── In other words, fans are reading the original work on Shōsetsuka ni Narō and moving on to pixiv to post their fan fiction.
── Could it be that the people of that generation are flowing into Ascendance of a Bookworm?
Early October: Jujutsu Kaisen is a smash hit
── Since the anime started in October, Jujutsu Kaisen had a surge in popularity.
── That happened in episode 7 of the anime, so during the night on November 13th.
── I'll look it up. December 7th is... Satoru Gojo's birthday.
── The thing is, you can always draw an illustration to celebrate, but I don't know of many that would say "I'll write a 4000-word novel to celebrate!" Do you think that the momentum of Jujutsu Kaisen will keep going?
What can we expect from 2021?
── Are there any works or characters that you think will trend in 2021?
── The first new series in 11 years is scheduled to air in 2022.
Kuro: The Novels team is also looking forward to the Genshin Impact trend. Until now, the only novel genre with a strong male user base was OreGairu (My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected). OreGairu is already quite popular and has been read and written about by a certain number of male users for a long time now, establishing a genre of its own. As the Novels team, we'd like to see more genres that male users can get excited about.
── The Olympics?
── It goes without saying that creative work is often born from real-life events. What does 2021 have in store for pixiv? What kind of trends will arise? Thank you for your time today! Happ New Year!