Analyzing Chiikawa (= Something Small and Cute) fans! Why are adults so hooked?

Analyzing Chiikawa (= Something Small and Cute) fans! Why are adults so hooked?

In recent years, the character Chiikawa has rapidly gained popularity among adults. In this article, we explore the fascination with the character by analyzing the Chiikawa fan persona. We will also examine how brand collaborations affected “Oshikatsu,” the marketing strategies, and the actual “Oshikatsu” activities.

What is Chiikawa?

Chiikawa is a manga/anime by illustrator Nagano. A fun and slightly sad stories told by the characters commonly known as Chiikawa, short for Nanka Chiisakute Kawaii Yatsu meaning “Something small and cute.”

The pure white character in the center of the image above is Chiikawa, the main character who is a bit of a crybaby but has a gentle and kind personality. In addition to Chiikawa, unique characters such as Hachiware (on the left in the image) and Usagi (on the right in the image) appear in the stories.

The graph below shows the change in the number of people searching for "Chiikawa" over the past two years. The number of searches has increased rapidly over the past two years, perhaps due to the fact that short anime has been broadcast on Fuji TV's Mezamashi TV since April 2022.

Changes in the number of people searching for “Chiikawa” (Dockpit)
Period: October 2021 - September 2023
Device: Smartphone

In this article, we will analyze and discuss the user attributes and persona of Chiikawa fans, as well as the reasons why they become Chiikawa fans. In the second half of the article, we focus on their collaborations with companies and consider the actual “Oshikatsu”* activities done in support by Chiikawa fans.

*”Oshikatsu” refers to activities that a fan performs to enthusiastically support someone/something

User attributes of Chiikawa fans and reasons for its popularity

First, using "Dockpit," which is VALUES’ online behavioral analytics tool, we will analyze the user attributes of people who are interested in Chiikawa based on search data.

In order to find out the unique characteristics of Chiikawa, we will analyze four other similar characters (Opanchu Usagi, Koupen-chan, Sumikko Gurashi, and Kanahei) for comparison.

Which character has the highest ratio of male fans?

Male to female ratio of people searching “Chiikawa,” “Opanchu Usagi,” “Koupen-chan,” “Sumikko Gurashi,” and “Kanahei” (Dockpit)
Period: October 2022 - September 2023
Device: Smartphone

When it comes to people searching for character names, the ratio of women, overall, is quite high.

Looking at the male ratio, Chiikawa, Opanchu Usagi, Koupen-chan, Sumikko Gurashi, and Kanahei have the highest percentages. In particular, Chiikawa has a male to female ratio of 1:3, which is the highest ratio of males among these five characters.

What we can suggest from this is that Chiikawa's soft but not overly cute look and her human-like charm of “having a personality that is rich in emotion and expression that makes you feel not only comfort but also sadness as well as madness” are popular among people of all genders. It is possible that this is what helped Chiikawa capture the people’s hearts.

“Opanchu Usagi” and “Koupen-chan,” which have the second highest ratio of male users searching for it after Chiikawa, each have their own human-like charms that attract people.

Opanchu Usagi has a somewhat of a comical visual and has a personality that makes everyone want to root for it since “It is not very blessed. It looks like it’s going to cry at any moment, but it’s going to live its life wholeheartedly,” and her pitiful but cute nature has become a hot topic. On the other hand, Koupen-chan, as its gentle appearance suggests, has the personality of the Holy Mother and “affirms, praises, cares for, and comforts all living beings,'' something you want to keep close when you are feelings down.

People seek comfort and warm laughter from Chiikawa, project their own life onto Opanchu Usagi, and want the compassionate, encouraging affirmations from Koupen-chan… Fans of a character may be supporting the character based on a latent need within themselves.

People searching for "Chiikawa," "Opanchu Usagi," "Koupen-chan," "Sumikko Gurashi," and "Kanahei" by age group (Dockpit)
Period: October 2022 - September 2023
Device: Smartphone

Chiikawa is characterized by a high ratio of people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Compared to other characters, just like Chiikawa, both Koupen-chan and Kanahei have a mountain shape that peaks for people in their 30s. In addition, Opanchu Usagi has a particularly high ratio of people in their 20s, who are Generation Z, and people in their 40s, who are probably around the age of their parents, while Sumikko Gurashi has a high ratio of middle-aged people in their 30s and 40s, and we can see the difference in the age groups of the fans.

Although the characters are gentle and cute, the age range of the fans is likely to change depending on the character's look, personality, and other traits.

Many of the fans are unmarried?

Percentage of unmarried/married people searching for "Chiikawa," "Opanchu Usagi," "Koupen-chan," "Sumikko Gurashi," and "Kanahei" (Dockpit)
Period: October 2022 - September 2023
Device: Smartphone

The ratio of unmarried/married Chiikawa fans is similar to that of Koupen-chan and Kanahei fans. Perhaps due to the age groups of the people searching, the ratio of unmarried people is about 20% higher than that of overall Internet users.

From the above, we found that many Chiikawa fans, like those of Koupen-chan and Kanahei, tend to be unmarried people in their 20s to 40s.

What all three characters have in common is their gentle, cute look, and unmarried people in their 20s to 40s who are busy with their work and private lives may be looking for comfort in these characters.

Chiikawa and Opanchu Usagi has a story that makes your heart wrench and makes you feel sad, and has a very human-like, expressive facial expression, which can be considered one of the reasons why it is popular among people in their 20s. Young people in their 20s may be relating their daily lives with those of these characters and sublimating their sadness and frustration.

Lifestyle and interests of Chiikawa fans

Next, let's look at the lifestyles and interests of people searching for Chiikawa using VALUES' targeting analytics tool "story bank" (Japanese only).

Chiikawa loved by working adults

The figure below shows the occupations of people searching for “Chiikawa.’
Compared to all Internet users, a high ratio of people searching for “Chiikawa” are office workers (general company employees) or students.

Percentage of people searching for “Chiikawa” by occupation (story bank)
Period: October 2022 - September 2023
Device: Smartphone

Next, let's take a look at the percentage of people searching by day and time of the week. The darker the blue in a cell, the greater the number of sessions.

It can be seen that usage is concentrated between 7:00 AM and 11:00 PM on weekdays from Monday to Friday, in the afternoon and between 8:00 PM and late at night on Saturdays, and on Sundays, usage is evenly distributed throughout the active waking hours. This distribution is thought to be influenced by the fact that many of the people searching for “Chiikawa” are office workers and students.

Percentage of people searching for “Chiikawa” by day and time of the week (story bank)
Period: October 2022 - September 2023
Device: Smartphone

From the above, we have come to understand the persona of someone who is busy during the daytime with school or work and search for “Chiikawa” on weekday nights and days off in search of relaxation.

Interests & spending are characterized by the “2D ‘Oshikatsu’” element

So far, we have looked at lifestyles, but now we will look at the interests and spending tendencies of Chiikawa fans.

The figure below is a scatter plot of the interests among people searching for “Chiikawa,” with the vertical axis representing the reach rate (*1) and the horizontal axis representing the feature value (*2).
*1 Reach rate: The ratio of the number of people who responded to the relevant item in the survey among the target segment.
*2 Feature value: An index that visualizes the websites that target users use, the apps they open/launch, and the keywords they search for compared to overall Internet users. Calculated by (Feature value) = (Reach rate of target person) - (Reach rate of entire Internet population).

It can be seen here that "manga," “anime,” "game,” and "video-sharing websites (YouTube, Niconico, etc.)" have high reach rates and feature values, and people searching for "Chiikawa" are showing high interest in 2D works.

Interest map for people searching "Chiikawa" (story bank)
Period: October 2022 - September 2023
Device: Smartphone

Next, let's look at average spending.
The table below shows the average spending per person in a month for people searching for "Chiikawa" and feature values. Items that have a strong tendency among all Internet users are indicated in red or dark brown.

The feature values for “Events / Goods purchases” and “Manga purchases” are extremely high at over 2.0 points, indicating a tendency to frequently purchase works and goods of their favorite works as “Oshikatsu.”

In addition, the feature values for “Charges on game apps,” “Charges on streaming services,” “Watching live concerts,” and “Watching movies” were over 1.5 points, indicating that people also tend to spend more on entertainment both at home and when going out.

Average monthly spending of people searching of “Chiikawa” (story bank)
Period: October 2022 - September 2023
Device: Smartphone

From the above, we found that Chiikawa fans have a high level of interest in 2D characters and tend to not mind spending money on “Oshikatsu” activities. In fact, Chiikawa has a large number of goods, which shows that it has a high degree of affinity with this trend.

The question “Why do people support their favorite someone/something?'' seems to be an important point of discussion in modern marketing.

On social media, X (formerly Twitter) & Instagram are often used

When it comes to “Oshikatsu,” it is important to follow information on social media. So, let's take a look at the social media usage of people searching for "Chiikawa.”

People searching for "Chiikawa" tend to spend more time on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram than overall Internet users. On the other hand, the time spent on LINE and Facebook is not significantly different from overall Internet users.

Percentage of time spent on LINE, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram by people searching “Chiikawa” (story bank)
Period: October 2022 - September 2023
Device: Smartphone

Chiikawa's official X (formerly Twitter) account posts short one-page comics and reposts from Chikawa's official anime/goods account, making it a valuable source of information for Chiikawa fans.

Chiikawa’s official X account has approximately 2.6 million followers (as of October 27, 2023), and it is no wonder that its fans spend more time on X (formerly Twitter) than the general Internet user.

On Instagram, it has the official account Chiikawa Market that is an official merch account and shop. Chiikawa fans are likely to follow these accounts to get the latest information on Chiikawa goods.

Based on the above, it is thought that Chiikawa fans search for information about Chiikawa from the social media they use daily. We will continue to keep an eye on Chiikawa's social media marketing.

Chiikawa fans flock to brand collaborations

One of the reasons for Chiikawa's popularity is the ease of performing “Oshikatsu” through the many brand collaborations across many industries.

Various collaborations with food products, household essentials, department stores, etc.

As mentioned below, Chiikawa collaborates with companies in various genres, holds pop-up events, and develops collaborative menus and goods. Here is a list of companies that have collaborated with Chiikawa before October 2023.

Genre Specific Examples
Restaurant chain Komeda Coffee, Kura Sushi, Marion Crêpes
Food manufacturers Myojo Foods, Marumiya, Lotte, UHA Mikakuto, Kobe Fugetsudo, SUNTORY
Apparel Fashion Center Shimamura, Avail, Uniqlo, GU, Kutsushitaya, Zoff
Department store Marui, PARCO
Daily essentials Can★Do, Don Quijote, Village Vanguard, Ito-Yokado, Matsumoto Kiyoshi, Cocokara Fine, FamilyMart, LAWSON
Commercial facility Sunshine Aquarium, Tokyo Skytree, JR Tokai, Hankyu Railway, Fuji Television (Odaiba Bohken-Oh)
Anime & games Sanrio, animes “My Hero Academia” and “Tokyo Revengers,” Game “Shadowverse”

*Based on the author's own research

Acquire Chiikawa fans through collaboration

Next, we will consider the details of each brand collaboration and their strategy to capture Chiikawa fans.

Komeda Coffee, Kura Sushi, Myojo Foods, Marumiya, and UHA Mikakuto offer collaborative menu items and products related to episodes from the original Chiikawa manga. Fans may find it more appealing because the collab would contain context only known to those who are familiar with the Chiikawa manga.

What I would like to focus on here is the strategy of Komeda Coffee and Kura Sushi. The two companies divide the collaboration period into multiple timeframes and plan different products and gifts for each period. It is believed that this will make it possible to turn Chiikawa fans into repeat customers.

On the other hand, it is also unique that the pop-up store is held at a department store where the customers are often of a higher age group than the usual Chiikawa fan base. These pop-up stores are often held in the event spaces inside the department stores, and it can be said that they create opportunities for young people to visit the department stores.

In addition, in terms of anime/game collaborations, in addition to collaborations with cute characters such as Sanrio, we also see collaborations with characters from other genres, such as shonen manga (manga targeted at adolescent boys) and battle games. As we saw earlier, Chiikawa fans have a high level of interest in 2D works, so collaborations with 2D works that are not necessarily “cute” may be effective.

As mentioned above, companies are thought to be collaborating with Chiikawa in order to create opportunities to attract Chiikawa fans to become customers for their own brands.

Being able to practice “Oshikatsu” in everyday life

In apparel and daily essentials, collaborations with brands that are affordable to people in their 20s and 30s, who make up Chiikawa's fan base, are notable.

Collaborative products include daily essentials such as bags and umbrellas, as well as loungewear and convenience store snacks, but it can be thought that all of these products promote “Oshikatsu” in daily life as a way for people to feel moments of happiness throughout the day.

Chiikawa has LINE stamps, which are considered to be one of the ways to practice “Oshikatsu” in everyday life.

Examples of Chiikawa stamps. In the LINE stamp popularity ranking under the creators category, the Chiikawa series dominates 1st to 7th place (as of October 22, 2023).

“Oshikatsu” that is practiced by “attending while wearing”

In addition to experiencing “Oshikatsu” in everyday life, attending “Oshikatsu” events wearing “Oshikatsu” products is another way to actively practice “Oshikatsu.”

As mentioned earlier, Chiikawa collaborates with various commercial facilities, and these collaborative events are flooded with fans wearing Chiikawa goods.

Examples include “Chiikawa @ Odaiba Bohken-Oh” held in the summer of 2023 and “Chiikawa⭐︎Hoshifuru Skytree” held in the fall/winter of 2023.

Chiikawa @ Odaiba Bohken-Oh Fuji Television

Jul. 22 - Aug. 27, 2023 Fuji TV 1st floor plaza Odaiba Bohken-Oh Win original Chiikawa prizes and products designed with Odaiba Bohken-Oh original Chiikawa illustrations are on sale!

Chiikawa☆Hoshifuru Skytree ー TOKYO SKYTREE®

Welcome to the official website of Tokyo Skytree®, the world's tallest tower with a height of 634 meters. At Tokyo Skytree® from October 17, 2023 (Tuesday) to January 16, 2024 (Tuesday), we will hold a collaboration event with the popular character Chiikawa, “Chiikawa☆Hoshiful Sky Tree®”

When I visited both events, I saw Chiikawa fans wearing Chiikawa goods, such as attaching Chiikawa keychains to their bags, and taking photos and recording the events. Also, at these events, there are photo spots and meet-and-greets as shown in the photo below, and Chiikawa fans are willing to wait in long lines.

Posting these photos on your Instagram story and sharing that you visited is also a form of “Oshikatsu.” Event planners are probably looking to create photo spots and indirectly promote the event through social media posts shared by their visitors.


In this article, we analyzed Chiikawa's fan base to find out the reasons for its popularity, and considered the purpose and form of promotion that can be seen from the brand collaborations.

Many Chiikawa fans are young people in their 20s and 30s, not only students but also office workers, and it is thought that they seek comfort in characters such as Chiikawa in their busy everyday lives and see themselves in these characters and relate. It may be that Chiikawa is seen somewhat as a friend.

For characters to be popular in the future, not only do they have to be cute but they should also be charming and relatable, and stimulate interaction between fans with a story that is worth considering.

If you pay attention to Chiikawa's brand collaborations, you can see the benefits of attracting Chiikawa fans as potential customers into the company's own fan base. Chiikawa fans, on the other hand, come to events wearing goods made through brand collaborations. This trend is not limited to Chiikawa but is used to promote many 2D works and is common as fan marketing for popular characters with a certain number of fans.

In the past, Manamina has featured articles introducing the definition of “Oshikatsu” and specific methods of “Oshikatsu.” Please take a look at them as well.

It will be interesting to see how “Oshikatsu” marketing will evolve in the future.

About Dockpit

▼Data from Dockpit was used in this case study. Dockpit is an online behavior analytics tool provided by VALUES, Inc., and it allows you to access online behavioral data (updated monthly) via your browser so you can research competitor websites and investigate trends. There is a FREE version of Dockpit, so if you are interested in using it, please register below.

dockpit Get free version





Born and raised in the Bay Area, U.S.A, I was fascinated by the different social and purchasing behaviors between Japanese and American consumers. I studied communication for undergrad and international marketing for my graduate studies. My professional background is in bilingual recruitment and Japanese-English translation.


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