If you’ve been on YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, or any major social media outlet (including TikTok), odds are that a “VTuber”(Virtual YouTuber) has crossed your path. These virtual avatars based off of anything from anime, to anthropomorphic, to monster-type characters take the place of a person who would normally be streaming or reacting to something in front of a camera. This is done by using either 3D or 2D to create an avatar (such as Live2D), then using a software program (such as VTube Studio or Vroid Studio) to rig it for real-time motion capture.
The first person to use this term is a prominent VTuber who goes by “Kizuna Ai”, someone who rose to fame creating YouTube content which is suggested to be the main reason that the trend has caught fire. Since then we have seen many more VTubers rise, including agencies such as Hololive Production to manage these rising stars. Also, while this originated in Japan, we have VTubers from EVERYWHERE (America, Russia, Germany, etc).
While we understand fully what a VTuber is, there’s multiple reasons that someone might choose to go into VTubing and why it has become so popular amongst those in the East and West. I think we should explore a few more of the popular options.NOTE – The Japanese VTuber appearing in the featured image is Inugami Korone.
One reason one might find themselves doing VTubing is the ability to express yourself with a variety of different elements that does not feel out-of-place. My favorite VTuber, CodeChannel, is steadily improving her stream with many things; new twitch redeems (such as a Metroid or other things that can be put on her head from a gacha), giving head pats, etc. There are also things such as different themed outfits, backgrounds, and the improvement of her model and tracking software overtime. You can add so much more to a YouTube video or Twitch stream with it fitting perfectly.
You’re able to avoid things like green screens, getting within presentable clothing, accidentally having the camera record something it’s not supposed to, etc. It’s simple and extremely effective to be able to replicate all those things without the hassle. Making your room interesting is easy, switching to entirely new scenes to fit the mood, or even switching clothing on the fly.
Something else to consider within this freedom, is the fact that everyone is focused solely upon who you are as a person. Without something like looks which are normally superficially judged, people see who you are deep down. Things like your personality, commentary, and even the skill itself in games take front and center stage. I feel a VTuber gets a faster connection with their audience because you see the soul of the person outright instead of judging them based on appearances and then following through if you’re interested enough.
VTubing can be an artistic endeavor as much as it is an alternative way to the traditional method of YouTubing or streaming. More so, because it is usually done in an anime-type fashion, Fanart can and WILL look exactly like you, such as the commission I had done of her (image drawn by artist WandyCandy) or another one drawn by whtdragon. While fanart is often done in an anime-based style by fans, it will never resemble as closer as it does with a VTuber model.
Something else to consider is that VTubing is extremely popular as of now, meaning that there is tons of money involved. Many people who love YouTubing and Streaming but felt like they did not have the looks, setup, or general appeal to make a living from being an entertainer have renewed invigoration from this current trend. Many who jumped on it early from all walks of life are gathering massive followings. Often times you will see preparation on the part of the VTuber by getting commissions of their character done to generate hype for their “debut”, which often prompts fanarts and mass followings.
VTubing, regardless of how convenient it is for those who do not want to stream or YouTube traditionally, can cost quite a bit of money. The camera or webcam used to capture, the software, and even the model itself (which can range anywhere from $0 to $10000 dollars depending on the model, rigging, and everything else). It’s quite an investment for hobbyist, but can be worth it for those who want a payoff that can potentially set them for the rest of their lives…if they get their buzz up.
The more popular VTubers have millions of followers on YouTube, thousands of subs on Twitch, and sell art books, merchandise, and have even signed deals. All of this revenue can go on as long as the character themselves are popular, which can create things like anime, figurines, and limited edition posters. When looking at prolific anime figures like Hatsune Miku or Super Sonico, which are mascot for companies and software, then you begin to understand the earning potential a popular VTuber has in the world of anime merchandise.
The main reason most people have turned to VTubing is the simple fact it gives them complete anonymity. The world of streaming and YouTubing can be a scary place when you consider that potentially millions of people will see your face; even just hundreds or thousands in passing. While it could be something as simple as curbing anxiety, there are legitimate reasons that someone may want to stream and share their love for any subject they’re interested in, or even post to YouTube about those things while also keeping their identity a secret.
Believe-it-or-not, people are incredibly judgmental, hateful, and will use the fact that they’re hidden behind avatars and usernames to say things specifically to get under the skin of those just expressing themselves. More than that, those who gain notoriety through their online presence can have their everyday private life also affected; we’ve seen things like fans stalking their favorite online personas, others trying to fight them, and even things like inappropriate touching and harassment. Having a persona as a VTuber avatar doesn’t expose you to a lot of this, even though you may still be prone to things like swatting.
The modern day has also brought about the emphasis to gender identity; transgendered, gender neutral, and those who identity different may feel that their appearance has not reached a stage in hormone therapy that truly represents how they feel yet. I have seen many people use an avatar specifically because it allows them to not be judged by their appearance, as those who do not physically match their gender can often be ridiculed by those who refuse to accept it. I’ve seen VTubing work wonders for some who have come into their own, even those who still are a bit caught up about how their voice isn’t exactly where they want either.
VTubers are bound to keep growing at an exponential rate due to all the benefits surrounding it. You’re able to express yourself to an audience while remaining completely anonymous, possibly make a living from it, and can even game fame within your own right. There’s a massive amount of benefits associated with this hobby, which is why so many have turned to it as a suitable alternative to the traditional method of YouTubing and Live Streaming.
Personally, I absolutely love VTubing. I love the anime aesthetic, I adore the energy most VTubers bring since they can be completely free and unhinged, and often enough they have a welcoming and inclusive community. Many people rally behind VTubers for the very reason it’s something insanely positive about seeing someone doing what they love and being happy for it.
What do you think about VTubers? What’s your favorite? Are you a hopeful VTuber with a debut soon? Let me know!