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The Virtual Youtuber Universe / VTuber Subculture

Last posted Mar 29, 2018 at 02:39AM EDT. Added Mar 05, 2018 at 03:56PM EST
8 posts from 5 users

If you follow anime subcultures you're probably no stranger to Kizuna Ai

But perhaps you're also familiar of the current hot trend of the virtual youtuber subculture, an influx of Japanese folk making debuts as virtual characters ranging from full bodied virtual models to simple live 2D animation.

Now from the amount of fanart,(And there's a lot), I've seen of these particular youtubers, Kizuna Ai , Kaguya Luna , Siro , Nekomasu they are clearly some of the more well known heralds of the rise in popularity of the virtual youtuber subculture.

And given their popularity, gave rise to an increased interest in this subculture.
(Here's a Pop Team Epic OP MAD to convey this craziness)

No surprise since Kizuna Ai herself has been incredibly successful of being a part of
Merchandise such as nendroids, official promotional material, and collaborations with other youtubers.
While she may not be the very first "virtual" youtuber she's undeniably one of the biggest influencers for this trend in japan.
A couple of weeks ago I came across the subreddit r/VirtualYoutubers who are also following this growing subculture, and that led me to understand that it's becoming its own growing community.

The trend has been going steady for awhile, so much so that we've just about reached a point where a Virtual Youtuber is explaining what they define a Virtual Youtuber is


Although I feel like there's only so much that they can do, so many current trending games they can play, so many live streams they make, obviously personality is the selling point here. Virtual idols(?). Chances are you'll find a personality among the many virtual youtubers that you like. International audiences are also an important point, so the language barrier can be off putting, although you might struck lucky with someone being kind enough to subtitle their videos.
They can range from a team of people working the virtual personality, (like idols), to virtual youtubers that made their models by hand.

The point being this a pretty niche subculture, based in japan, so it would take effort for it to channel popularity overseas. Kizuna Ai is one of the few who was successful enough to do so.

But there are some great and pretty cute virtual youtubers out there, that give themselves a certain edge. For example Mirai Akari seems to be some of the few virtual youtubers that visit VR Chat and interact with the community, even english speaking folks.

I recently subbed to this qt3.14

because of her absolute sick fps skills

I feel like the appeal for anime folks or the otaku culture is that these existing personalities, who many base themselves from existing anime character archetypes or give themselves distinctive voices, are interacting with a real audience, doing livestreams, Q&As, Let's play's, etc.


So what do you folks think? Is this a memorable subculture or a passing phase?
Have you been following this subculture?
Personally I find this whole thing fascinating, I don't think I can give it enough justice with this post alone but this can be another example of how virtual reality is being used and is coming along…

I don't think it's a phase. I think it's just a part of the trend, where thanks to the technological progress some people will increasingly substitute real life interactions with their ever more realistic waifus. Sure, Kizuna can be funny and a good source of memes, but I think it's easy to see where this will lead in the coming years. This is very unhealthy.

Last edited Mar 05, 2018 at 05:42PM EST

Yeah, it's easy to look at this with rose colored glasses, especially following the otaku culture. Can definitely see this as some underlying way of escapism.

If anything it's an easy way to capitalize on the existing otaku culture in japan, especially with the ever present virtual technology that's being introduced over the years. I'm reminded of our brief discussion of such an example in the thread for the product Gatebox

And if we want to get even more in depth, perhaps we'd consider how unhealthy habits of escapism can present itself for the future of virtual technology, maybe looking at the rise in VR games and communities like VRChat.

But would you say there's more of a distinction between a company releasing their character to capitalize on this trend, to a person choosing to capitalize on this trend like actual real youtubers make youtube videos as a job?

The reason to why I embedded the video of the virtual youtuber discussing the definition of a virtual youtuber is because their attempt of categorizing this trend speaks volumes on what's some of the biggest driving force for this trend, even if ironically they themselves are part of a project that is attempting to follow and review the trend.

This a current growing subculture, but I'm not sure how we'd categorize it as a subset of anime culture or Japanese culture, something akin to like Vocaloid or Tohou?

Speaking of capitalization, Kizuna AI was recently chosen as an ambassador for a Japanese tourism campaign

Last edited Mar 05, 2018 at 07:44PM EST

As far as I know, the Virtual YouTuber Universe has given enough impact to the Japanese otaku culture as well as otaku business in recent several months. So I think it's well deserved to give the universe a subculture entry and describe its history, formation process and cultural backgrounds.
At the same time, I guess giving people or site entry to each remarkable VTubers isn't a good idea unless it becomes the origin of multiple, and not-small, internet memes.

Well it’s finally spring “break”.
Over the past month or so, I’ve come to realize that this is too big of a project to document accurately. There’s a lot of growth that’s been spread and a lot of information that I’m saving and collecting

A combination of college assignments, attempt at keeping track of this trend and collecting bits and pieces of information. This was becoming a personal project that I’d like to put together, but I realize that I will need help. Here are my thoughts collected over several weeks.


Was to be posted 3/11/18, combination from then and now
@mona_jpn

Yes! You are just the person I was hoping to share their input on this, I appreciate it.

Creating a subculture page for this would be tricky.
If I were to create an entry it would be very surface level, it would be stuck in a work in progress at best and deadpooled at worst.
And again since you yourself have mentioned this impacting japanese otaku culture, I feel like the language barrier has me missing more vital information.
There are VTubers who just do live streams, or a little more of their personalities are shared on their twitter page, or there are some who just straight up don’t have their videos translated.

I think it's more a page about the subject of a virtual youtuber, kind of how Kizuna Ai's entry mentions it. It’s a way many people have chosen to interact.

I'd probably consider the four VTubers, Kizuna Ai, Kaguya Luna, Siro, Nekomasu

Maybe consider collaborations between VTubers, especially with the jagariko challenge which Kizuna Ai decided to make her own version and other took the challenge. Also Kizuna Ai has quite some activity going, talking to VA’s from Love Live for instance, that I think her entry might need to be updated. She’s really branching out, so is the other referred "4 heavenly kings"

You could argue that these four VTubers are more recognizable because of their distinctive voices and personalities, thus becoming memes of themselves, take for example Kaguya Luna and her relation to Strong Zero.

It's also seemed to be some right of passage to play what trending at the moment like it was for Saito App, Getting Over it.
But many VTubers struggle at the beginning to find some identity for themselves before they find something they can work with. Mirai Akari realesed a video once talking about how she was running out of things to talk about, and recently was unsure how to end her video. Funnily enough Kizuna Ai recently released a video criticizing the comments she's get how some are "over her content" which brings an interesting point in the VTuber scene.

Take a look at this chart:

This chart and other variants have been updated quite frequently Here’s the most recent as of 3/28/18
”:https://twitter.com/Shiratori_Amaha/status/978226938752917504

This gives a good perspective of some of the communities forming in the Virtual Youtuber Community.

A LOT of this information is thanks to the r/VirtualYoutubers subreddit


Some Important Links for references. Since 3/11/18
One of many events that have been held or will be held based on VTubers Link
An Interview(?) with Kaguya Luna creators(?) not translated so unsure, but it seems important Link
Anime news network coverage on the phenomenon LINK
An anon from /jp/ sharing A write-up of the Virtual Youtuber scene in Japan LINK

A Video that Expresses the Change of the Virtual YouTubers' Subscribers with Icons

There’s more to it like the recent events in Anime Japan and Siro, but this is kind of the jumbled mess this post has become, what do you all think? Is there a possibility of an entry forming here? I'm thinking of continuing to track this trend but hopefully I don't lose focus because this is quite a subject.
Ninja Edit: Links were not cooperating

Last edited Mar 28, 2018 at 09:59PM EDT

I can see this sort of thing expand into western culture through viral marketing ads and the magic of making money.

Or rather, the next step from twitter accounts of virtual characters to paid VAs who do twitch and stream or whathaveyou. I would imagine something akin to the next Miyazaki film would employ something like this, or the next Fire Emblem/big name JRPG/RPG/whatever. Anime/cartoon characters would seem the easiest to craft since their facial expressions are rather simple compared with next-gen 3d graphics.

Homer Simpson playing Minecraft? Peter Griffin playing The Witcher 3? What about Solid Snake (PS1 era) playing some Leisure Suit Larry? Could be some new jobs for people who can mimic the voices of known characters.

This is all pretty fascinating. I mean, can you imagine something like this combined with a Survivor or Big Brother reality show context? Instead of getting the view from what the main camera shows you, you could technically have upto dozens of perspectives, all on their own channel.

But then, why stop there? Go the Marvel Comics route and have a huge "multiverse" (or universe, whatever) for such Original Characters to interact between each other. As far as I can tell, the only limit is imagination and budget constraints.

In a way, something like this could lead to the creation of more niche subcultures that use this sort of technology for their own means. A new "genre" of storytelling I suppose.

Zombie_Boy wrote:

I can see this sort of thing expand into western culture through viral marketing ads and the magic of making money.

Or rather, the next step from twitter accounts of virtual characters to paid VAs who do twitch and stream or whathaveyou. I would imagine something akin to the next Miyazaki film would employ something like this, or the next Fire Emblem/big name JRPG/RPG/whatever. Anime/cartoon characters would seem the easiest to craft since their facial expressions are rather simple compared with next-gen 3d graphics.

Homer Simpson playing Minecraft? Peter Griffin playing The Witcher 3? What about Solid Snake (PS1 era) playing some Leisure Suit Larry? Could be some new jobs for people who can mimic the voices of known characters.

This is all pretty fascinating. I mean, can you imagine something like this combined with a Survivor or Big Brother reality show context? Instead of getting the view from what the main camera shows you, you could technically have upto dozens of perspectives, all on their own channel.

But then, why stop there? Go the Marvel Comics route and have a huge "multiverse" (or universe, whatever) for such Original Characters to interact between each other. As far as I can tell, the only limit is imagination and budget constraints.

In a way, something like this could lead to the creation of more niche subcultures that use this sort of technology for their own means. A new "genre" of storytelling I suppose.

This actually happened in south america, Cartoon Network Latin america has a series of videos with the voice actors of Mordecai and Rigby called Toontubers were they play popular games in a youtuber like style.


Skeletor-sm

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