VTubing is growing exponentially, finding more and more exposure in the overall anime sphere and representation in various conventions. OffKai Expo‘s mission was to be the very first dedicated convention in the west: for VTuber fans, by VTuber fans. For three days in San Jose, California, OffKai Expo was a haven for VTuber fans – as the tagline says, “where online friends meet”!
I had the chance to attend all three days, and I truly loved my time—I could see the same on the faces of every guest, staff member, and attendee. We had enjoyed feeling at home and were looking forward to returning next year, bigger and better. Perhaps this would spawn more VTuber expos worldwide, as travel plans to America’s San Francisco Bay Area can be quite cost-prohibitive.
If you weren’t able to attend or have only heard of OffKai Expo recently, I wanted to guide you through what it was like to be at the west’s first VTuber convention. If you were one of the more-than-700 attendees, then join me as I walk down memory lane.
LazuLight’s Q&A Panel
Pulling in several hundred attendees, NIJISANJI EN was represented by Lazulight, composed of Finana Ryugu, Elira Pendora, and Pomu Rainpuff. In this hour-long Q&A session, Lazulight would bounce around erratically from lewd jokes, wholesome soul-baring moments, and making famed interviewer Domo regret hosting this panel.
Finana would go on to discuss the almost-shameful amount of money she had spent on Mahjong Soul, to which the audience was quick to begin chanting “Spend more! Spend more!” Spurred on by this collective sharing of brain cells, Pomu asked the audience for the world’s loudest “sheesh,” and she was delighted to hear the audience obey—reveling in the power she now wielded.
The Lazulight girls were asked several thought-provoking and wholesome questions, such as what each talent’s first impression of the others were. The girls were quick to say that they had become friends almost immediately—however, both Elira and Pomu first thought that Finana was a quiet and innocent-minded person. They would go on to talk about The Twitch Stream and The Egg Story with thousand-yard stares.
Finana received a heartfelt declaration from the Ryuknights of her fan discord, saying they loved her and would support her always. Tearing up, Finana would wholesomely express how much her fans meant to her, and told them to follow their dreams and what they believed in.
The panel had several running jokes, such as innuendos about Elira’s Pikl, bullying Domo, and Elira’s drunk Phasmophobia stream. They discussed how strange their life had become, as they were effectively always working – but that none of it ever felt like work.
In a particularly impactful moment, Pomu said “I’ve had more friends now than I’ve ever had in my entire life, and that means a lot.” Elira would close out the panel by shouting “MAKE SURE TO LIKE, COMMENT, AND SUBSCRIBE!“
LazuLight’s OffKai Expo Karaoke Performance
The star of the first night was Lazulight’s karaoke performance, which easily attracted a massive audience, fully prepared with glowsticks and penlights. The three talents debated a bit about who should sing first, as all three were nervous—but Finana stepped up to the plate after the audience switched their penlights to green and chanted her name.
She sang a brilliant rendition of Titanium from Pitch Perfect, which caused Elira to mention how the song is originally sung in a shower scene. This prompted a suggestion that Lazulight meet up for a shower scene off-collab. Pomu seized the unique opportunity to sing the Pokémon theme song, noting that it would likely be the only time she could sing it without immediately drawing the ire of lawyers.
Elira sang Code Geass’ COLORS to much immediate applause—though, the applause quickly subsided to grumblings when Elira admitted she had never watched Code Geass before. Of course, the audience promptly chanted “Watch it! Watch it!“
The night would continue with powerful songs such as Finana’s rendition of Britney Spears’ Toxic, Pomu’s version of mona’s Fansa, and Elira’s cover of Soul’s Refrain from Neon Genesis Evangelion. The last one was hit with the EN curse, as the song itself wasn’t audible, so Elira simply did an acapella rendition.
To send off the karaoke in the best way, Lazulight finished off with their debut song, Diamond City Lights. At the song’s climax, a dozen audience members rushed to the center, twerking furiously.
Lazulight was also very excited to announce their fast-approaching first anniversary, complete with teasers for their new outfits, and merch with illustrations that the talents drew themselves. The night ended with the fans storming the stage, posing for a massive group photo.
PRISM Project Presents… VTuber Family Feud!
PRISM Project hosted a massive Family Feud game, pitting Team Senpais (Iku Hoshifuri, Aoi Tokimori, Kamishiro Rita, and Araka Luto) against Team Kouhais (Shiki Miyoshino, Nia Suzune, Pina Pengin, and Sara Nagare).
Domo, taking the place of Steve Harvey, would go on to ask the PRISM talents various VTuber related questions, which the familiar Family Feud twist – these same questions were asked to 100 Offkai attendees, and the PRISM talents had to guess what those answers were.
Starting us off strong, the first question got interesting quickly – “Name a food that a VTuber would consume for an ASMR stream.”
The questions would go on to be funny, spicy, and thought-provoking, with many set ups for the PRISM girls to shine as entertainers. One question asked what event VTubers would celebrate, and when Iku suggested “graduation,” Domo physically cringed on the floor.
Another was the ever-important question: “Name something that a VTuber’s chat wants to hear them say.” Domo fired back, saying that the talents had to say the phrase properly in order to receive points. Aoi, of course, knew exactly what the most popular phrase would be – and it took her a lot of prodding to say it out loud.
Phase Connect Kahoot
Phase Connect’s EN branch – composed of Tenma Maemi, Ashelia Rinkou, Fujikura Uruka, and Pipkin Pippa – hosted a quiz show with a hundred contestants from the crowd. Over an hour and a half, the Phase Connect talents led the audience through a tough list of VTuber-related questions.
The contestant “Pippa’s Shirt” took the lead early on, prompting Maemi to ask if Pippa was even wearing a shirt—Pippa merely stared at the audience menacingly. This would be a recurring theme.
The leaderboard was dominated by a player named “Tenma is short”—the source of much of Maemi’s fury.
Although “Tenma is short” did not finish in the top five, they did earn a special shout out from Maemi herself—who threatened to beat them up backstage.
Araka Luto and Iku Hoshifuri’s Panel
Continuing our vein of educational panels, we had PRISM Project’s second-generation talent Araka Luto teaching first-generation Iku Hoshifuri. In this energetic and chaotic hour, Luto would expose both her senpai and the poor audience to cursed posts.
The panel was rife with audience participation, asking the audience to grade their posts (to much applause). Luto would give Iku a crash course on posting solid content, including reciting certain quotes about the Pokémon Vaporeon (to much more applause).
The panelists would then flip the script on the audience, presenting them with the assigned hashtag, and asking the audience to submit their own posts, where Luto would read them out loud – where the crown jewel was Iku’s own submission. Iku finished off the panel with an apology to anyone whose first impression of PRISM Project was an hour of toilet humor.
Speak of the Devil, and Ironmouse’s Karaoke Performance
OffKai would finish with a beautiful sendoff by Ironmouse, the most subscribed-to streamer on Twitch. In this Q&A, Ironmouse was asked a wide range of questions – advice on how to start VTubing (take advantage of free resources and just start!), or what she would wear to a con if she was able to (lolita fashion).
She revealed some shocking information about herself, such as her near-future dreams to release an album, or her favorite collab (very, very reluctantly saying the IRL tour around Japan with CDawgVA), or her favorite tags on certain websites.
Indeed, Ironmouse was bubbly and emotional throughout this entire panel—She was overwhelmed by wave after wave of love and applause from the audience, and felt truly grateful for her community. In fact, she was earnestly asked to name one thing she loved about herself, and she needed a moment to think:
“I wouldn’t have been able to answer this question two years ago. I have horrific self-esteem issues that I am still working on to this day… but now I can say that I’m funny, and I have a great voice for singing, and I can love myself today.”Ironmouse, during her Q&A segment.
As the Q&A came to a close, Domo revealed that Mousey had a special performance for us—she had prepared a karaoke setlist. Ironmouse started off with a VTuber staple: King by Kanaria. After that was Bloody Stream from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, then And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going from Dreamgirls—where Ironmouse’s spectacular talent for opera singing got a chance to shine.
As the karaoke winded to an end, as she received a standing ovation, she snuck in an encore song – Plastic Love by Mariya Takeuchi.
For those unfamiliar with her, Ironmouse suffers from a long-term illness that prevents her from leaving her house. She had resigned herself to never attending a con, never meeting fans face-to-face. For OffKai to give her this opportunity, for her to see first-hand how much she meant to her fans… Ironmouse ended her final song by openly crying. She cried tears of unbridled joy, and the audience wept alongside her as they applauded and swung lightsticks with all their heart.
It would be the perfect sendoff to a truly unforgettable event.
OffKai Expo was massive in scale, and this article could only cover the big-ticket events. Keep an eye out for follow-up stories including details of the venue itself, coverage of smaller events, karaoke impressions, and showcasing the many cosplayers!
We would like to thank OffKai Expo for allowing us to cover the event as official media. We were honored to attend the inaugural event, and can’t wait for the next one.