Streaming in 2022
As the countries descended to the chaos caused by the infamous COVID-19, lockdowns were implemented by governments to minimize the exposure to the virus, and people resorted to the virtual world. Most people turn to streaming their gameplays on famous platforms such as Twitch, YouTube and Facebook’s live feature. What you’d usually see on your device is the live gameplay being streamed and a portion of it is the live feed of the streamer. But in this era of technology, people have come up with the idea of virtual streaming. It’s not the usual actual live person that shows up on cam, but an animated virtual avatar just like the ones you see in anime and manga. But of course, behind the avatar is the person controls and voices it.
It first originated as a digital trend in Japan in late 2016, with Kizuna Ai at the forefront of the movement. She is described as a typical shōjo (young female) character: brunette-haired girl with pink streaks and a headband with pink bunny ears, wearing a school girl uniform with a bow on her chest. Majority of the VTubers speak in either Japanese or English, and by 2020, the time of pandemic, there have been more or less 10,000 VTubers. This trend is so huge that it made a hit on YouTube’s 2020 Culture and Trends and racked up 1.5 billion views per month by October. This is such a huge win for otakus who want more anime or manga related content, because you are actually watching an anime character who probably plays the same game you play, or plays the same genre, and genuinely responds to their viewer’s comments and messages on stream.
One of the most notable VTubers after Kizuna is Kiryu Coco, who catapulted VTubing into the limelight because she streams in English even before the company Hololive had an English branch for entertainment. Eventually, Kizuna’s record of 2.97 million subscribers was shattered by another VTuber named Gawr Gura by achieving 3 million come June 30 2021.
Recently, a Puerto Rican VTuber Ironmouse dethrones xQc, becoming the most subscribed channel on Twitch.
Following the continuous rise of VTubers, companies have been founded and dedicated to them, also expanding their audience worldwide. The first ever was Nijisanji, founded in February 2018 and managed by Anycolor Inc. Then came Hololive, who are geared towards an “idol group” image, thus the agency mostly has female VTubers than males. They inevitably overtaken Nijisanji, but still poses as a rival as it not far off behind.