It’s been over a year since Storytime YouTuber Emily Sim, known as Emirichu online, uprooted herself from her home in California and relocated to Tokyo. With over 3 million subscribers on the platform, where she shares illustrated videos about her life, it’s clear that moving to this part of the world was not just a personal decision but a professional one. We recently sat down with Sim to better understand the Storytime genre, how she has grown as an artist and how moving to Japan has changed the direction of her content. 

The Story Behind Storytime

“To me, a Storytime YouTuber is someone who narrates life stories in their videos,” explains Sim. “This is often told through animation or illustrations and the story can be about anything. It could be stories from school or a funny moment in life.” 


Sim’s first iteration of Storytime wasn’t actually for YouTube, it was during a study abroad program in Guatemala. Rather than taking photographs, she decided to draw out her experience as part of a project presentation. This experience sparked an idea in her to use art to convey stories. 

Though Sim didn’t take the conventional route to study or train, drawing has been a part of her life for as long as she could hold a pencil. Upon graduating from college, she started, in her words, “messing around with a tablet” and uploading videos to YouTube. Her first video to blow up on the platform was an animatic music video for the song “It’s Not Like I Like You!!” by Static-P, which was released in May 2017. Sim ended up spending her entire summer vacation that year in Korea drawing and by the time she returned to the U.S., had amassed 10,000 subscribers, marking her first milestone.  

What Inspires Emirichu?

It’s been six years since her big break. The Emirichu channel has subsequently gone from strength to strength as Sim continues to refine her craft. When asked to describe her style, she calls it “very girly anime,” as it’s clear that shoujo manga was the main inspiration.  

“Something about the art in shoujo manga just really tickled my brain as a little girl. I was always into romance, but it was the art and the expressiveness of the eyes that blew me away,” says Sim. “I used to pour over Shojo Beat magazines that were available at my school library, and I was constantly blown away by all of the different art styles. My school also had Shonen Jump magazine, but it just didn’t hit me the same way.” 

Sim cites Tokyo Mew Mew, written by Reiko Yoshida and illustrated by Mia Ikumi, as one of her biggest influences. She also really likes Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya, Gentlemen’s Alliance by Arina Tanemura and Kitchen Princess by Miyuki Kobayashi.  

How To Make A Story Time YouTube Video

Emirichu videos are warm, funny and relatable. The end result might seem deceptively simple, yet the process is anything but. It usually begins with Sim crafting the script and recording the audio for an idea she has come up with. She then uses thumbnails for the video concepts while planning the number of drawings needed for the animatic. After that, sketches are drawn out on her drawing platform and edited into video form to see if the visuals and the audio line up with her vision. Lastly, she does the line art and colors for the final illustrations, before finishing up the editing of the overall video. A typical video can take anywhere from two weeks to a month to complete from start to finish, depending on how much time Sim can dedicate to working on it.

“Because of the nature of my content and the time needed to illustrate it all, it can be frustrating that producing a video takes this long. But I like to have full control over my content and to be able to say that everything was done 100% by me,” says Sim. “This is why I’ve been resistant about hiring a team to help me. It would probably make more business sense if I did and stopped being so stubborn. There have been some occasions where I’ve commissioned another artist to help, especially with background art. Still, what’s important to me is being able to look back at my channel and see my own personal art growth over the years. This is why I continue to work solo.”

Personal Experiences in Japan

Since moving to Japan with talent agency GeeXPlus, the Emirichu YouTube channel has diversified and now includes a varied mix of her illustrations, combined with vlog-style footage of her experiences. To date, some of her most popular videos are her anime café series, where she visits an array of collaboration cafés that are available in Japan to document their food and drinks as well as her thoughts on how they taste. Another video that recently hit over 1 million views was “I Tried Being A Maid for a Day,” where she spent a day working as a maid at a place called At-home Café.  

“When I’m making Storytime content, it’s inevitable that my work will be centered around my personal experiences. Moving to Japan has definitely impacted me in a good way. I’ve been given so many opportunities and it’s inspired me to think of new ideas for my channel,” says Sim. 

While many viewers may have come to her channel for her cute art, even more have stayed because of Sim’s personality and her approach to storytelling. “Having fun with whatever content you decide to make is the most important thing,” she says. “I’ve found that even if something might not perform well on social media, if it fulfills you creatively, then it’s worth having been made.”

Keep up with Emirichu on YouTube.