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What a glorious age of technology we live in. Think about it. You could have been born at any point in history. Yet, you exist at the exact right time to watch a 2-D animated avatar sprite play Mario Kart and ignore your $100 dollar donation praising their efforts. You can actually get a live response talking to your waifus. No more exchanging pleasantries with your dakimakura waifu, now that the dream of degenerates has come to life!
So, what exactly are Virtual Youtubers? Virtual Youtubers (simply VTubers for short) are live streamers who, instead of showing their face to the camera, use a digital avatar (often anime-inspired), that moves relatively in sync with their real-world actions. The VTubers are then able to manipulate a set of commands to change their avatar’s facial expressions, as well as have their avatars updated with various clothes or accessories.
The world of VTubers is vast and sprawling with countless content creators out there. Ranging from karaoke VTubers, to gaming VTubers, all the way to ASMR VTubers, it can be daunting for those with absolutely no knowledge about this world of avatar substituted streaming. Fear not, for we will give you all the knowledge you need to start enjoying VTubers as soon as possible!
The Origin of VTubers
You may think VTubers sprang up from out of nowhere. However, look no further than Hatsune Miku, Japan’s popular hologrammatic idol, to see that the idea of using holograms instead of real people, has long since been in the pipeline.
However, Miku was not in fact a VTuber and was instead a virtual idol. She did not stream and only made appearances at concerts. The birth of VTubers came about instead from the first-ever VTuber; Kizuna Ai.
Who is Kizuna Ai?
Debuting in 2016, Kizuna Ai is the first VTuber and currently holds the most subscribers out of all her fellow idols. Fans were responsive to her friendly streaming atmosphere and chat interaction, so much so that it paved the way for others of her kind to follow.
Software such as MikuMikuDance allows for the creation of an avatar and to have said avatar’s actions controlled manually. Other software such as FaceRig allows for tracking of facial expressions and movement to give the illusion of emotion. It is not concrete as to which software Kizuna Ai uses but it is generally considered to be either one of these two, or something very similar.
How Did VTubers Get So Popular?
VTubers that are streaming have an extra degree of anonymity, as their face, name, and background are all kept locked behind closed doors. So, VTubers do not have to worry about personal abuse from fans and this provided a starting point for even more to jump at the trend.
There was no single event that catapulted VTubers into the mainstream – it was really just a gradual process. Otaku love to watch anime and so naturally they are drawn to a cute anime girl that they can actually interact with. So after Kizuna Ai broke out to such success, others also wanted to cash in on the action. So much so that by 2020 there were over 10,000 active VTubers streaming!
2020 in particular gave a boom to VTubers. With covid19, people were confined to their PC were exploring YouTube. Perhaps they stumbled across a recommended video or two and before you know it, you’re tumbling down the rabbit hole of VTubers.
Several other famous personalities also decided to create content targeted towards the VTuber audience, or an audience that may have an interest in uncovering more information about VTubers. One such example is Gigguk, who outlines some of his favorite VTubers as well as describing in great detail their origins. Check it out below!
Top VTubers to Watch
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular VTubers out there and see who you should dedicate your time and money towards. As Hololive is the most popular organization at the moment, we decided to only include a select few Hololive VTubers. However, feel free to check out our Hololive dedicated article for a more in-depth exploration.
1. Kiryu Coco
Coco is the perfect VTuber for beginners with little to no understanding of Japanese. Being fluent in both languages (her foreign identity was “leaked” by a fan proclaiming that her hip movements are not traditionally Japanese), Coco streams in both English and Japanese; often translating where need be.
One of Coco’s biggest and most famous stream types is her reviewing of Reddit memes – often joined by a Japanese guest with no knowledge of the world of shi*posting. She translates and explains the meanings of these memes for a foreign audience which is great to see play out. Be warned however, she is also known for teaching the more pure-hearted VTubers some of our naughty language.
2. Inugami Korone
Korone was many people’s first venture into the world of VTubers. Her gaming exploits and shrill screams have won the world over – so much so that many developers chose to include Easter Eggs in their games honoring Korone.
Completing several incredibly long, full-day streams, Korone is incredibly dedicated to her fanbase and all around a good doggo. Eekum Bokum will forever be a classic. There’s something that is just additive about her.
3. Gawr Gura
First of the VTubers to hit one million subscribers and subsequently, the first to hit two million subscribers recently as well. Gura rose to fame due to her amusing personality and quick wit.
Gura loves to play games but where she really shines is her incredible singing voice. Who would have thought such a merciless killer shark would have such a heavenly voice!
4. Akai Haato (Haachama)
Akai Haato is a pure-hearted and innocent cherub who often likes to complete either gaming or karaoke streams. She is by far the most innocent member of Hololive and nobody can tell me otherwise. Be warned however, there is more to Haato than meets the eye.
For every pure Haato that exists in the world, there must exist a chaotic Haachama. Haachama often completed cooking streams and enjoys using…less traditional ingredients such as tarantulas or scorpions.
Other streams consist of; reviewing lewd fan arts of herself, as well as a spicy noodle challenge with disastrous results. While not at Coco’s level, Haachama’s English is also very good and she is improving every day to increase her foreign viewer base.
5. Usada Pekora
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People who say that you cannot hear images are LIARS!
Pekora is another Hololive VTuber with an incredibly distinct laugh. Fans have likened it to a Tekken combo in its complexity. However, she also enjoys singing and gaming streams aplenty. Amassing a harem of sorts as the ruthless boss of the Usada Construction Minecraft company, its never a dull moment at the Pekora household.
6. Shirokami Fubuki
Fubuki is every viewer’s best friend. You might think that sounds great for a newcomer. However, as you watch more and more until inevitably falling in love, being referred to in such a platonic way after donating a marriage proposal, must be incredibly heartbreaking.
During the recent Hololive pay-per-view concert however, Fubuki agreed to be all of our wives for that day only. Let us rejoice before being banished back to the inevitable friend-zone.
7. Projekt Melody
Projekt Melody was originally a source for H-related content. Starting her stream on Chaturbate, she eventually branched off and began streaming on Twitch. Her backstory is rather interesting. After being infected with a pornographic virus sent in an email, she became obsessed with all things lewd.
Melody is an American VTuber and so is fully able to converse with her dedicated fans in English. She is rather wholesome and tomboyish, often cringing at explicit things she has said or done in the past. However, her second personality Melware, had no such sensibilities – actively embracing her inner pervert and openly mocking her chat. As of October 2020 however, the fights between the two have subsided. While on Twitch she is forced to keep the content family-friendly – should you be in the market for a more adult VTuber, Melody is your gal!
9. Yoona Boona
Don’t think we forgot about husbandos on this list. While a majority of VTubers are female and are Japanese, there does exist a subset of male VTubers who reside in the US or Europe.
Yoona Boona is one of these VTubers. Primarily producing League of Legends content, he is an open otaku and loves discussing all things anime. While some VTubers assuredly do take an interest in anime, a lot of VTubers do not care for otaku culture to the extent of some of their fans. Sure, they may be able to talk about Naruto or One Piece but if you want to delve into the complexities of a show like Gantz, then Kizuna Ai isn’t going to be able to provide the three-page review you were looking for. You will feel right at home like the degenerate weeb you are in Yoona Boona’s stream.
11. Dennou Shojo Siro
Another of the four big VTubers who gave birth to the rise of virtual streaming, Cyber Girl Siro comes out in full force with her ‘seiso’ (neat, pure, and tidy) persona. However, this persona shifts drastically when she plays PubG for example, where Siro has been known to rattle off a curse word or two.
Siro studied English and so has an excellent grasp of the language, allowing her to interact with many foreign viewers who choose to watch her. Siro is a great find for foreigners wanting a glimpse into how VTubers started out.
12. Tsukino Mito
Nijisanji is another group of VTubers similar to Hololive and one of their most popular VTubers is Tsukino Mito. Tsukino Mito enjoys playing kusoge or trash games – low quality games that are played to witness how terrible they are.
While she tries to be seiso much like Siro, she is a tsundere and sometimes cannot help but let her more aggressive or silly side spill to the service. Her Animal Crossing streams have become the center for interesting conflict with betrayals and heartbreak aplenty. She also insists her fans create more lewd fanart of her so if you enjoy honoring the VTubers you watch with pictures, be sure to check out Mito when she streams.
You know what they say – two VTubers are better than one! Tanaka Hime and Suzuki Hina join forces on their signature channel of HimeHina. Whether it be ASMR or gaming HimeHina are an incredibly talented duo.
However, where these two shine is their incredible voices and fully animated music videos. Hatsune Miku paved the way for VTubers like HimeHina. If you enjoy a great jam session, HimeHina have got you covered.
Kuzuha embodies the introvert in all of us. When gaming alone, he is an incredibly boastful and loud-mouthed vampire, with an obsession for money. He is bombastic and entertaining to watch for sure so rest assured that you are in good hands while watching his solo streams.
However, the self-defined NEET that he is, Kuzuha becomes a painfully shy introvert when collaborating with other VTubers – often resorting to mentioning the weather in order to kickstart a conversation. Should you be struggling with social situations in your own life and want to see that pain inflicted onto somebody else, Kuzuha’s reactions should keep you laughing for hours.
15. Kizuna Ai
Finally, let’s end things with the original, still going strong, pioneer of VTubers – Kizuna Ai. Recently hosting an online concert, Kizuna Ai shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Whether it be gaming, singing, or just talking with viewers, Kizuna was the first VTuber for a reason. Her charismatic personality and cute charming ways enticed an entire generation of producers to invest in the VTuber market and thank god that they did. For a look at where VTubers originated from and to see where many of your favorite new VTubers found their styles, Kizuna Ai is a must-watch.
VTubers – Short Fad or New Frontier?
VTubers have definitely made a name for themselves both in proving entertaining content and having the ability to rake in the money. Look no further than Hololive Vtubers for proof. While perhaps the advent of VTubers may die down in the future, for now at least, they are here to say.
The world of VTubers is ever-expanding and with countless idols to choose from, it’s almost guaranteed that we missed something or someone amazing related to VTubers. If you are a fan of VTubers, let us know what kind of crazy information we missed! Reach us at edwinchuen(at)hotmail.com with why your vtuber should be selected!