We’re on the last days of January and welcome February as well, in celebration of the Lunar New Year! This week’s VTuber news rundown has been another diverse list, giving us both sides of what are some of the major and interesting happenings within the community.
Welcome to our fifth installment of the VTuber News Round-Up! Here is this week’s rundown:
What’s Inside this Week’s Round-Up?
- The Ugly and Bad
- The Interesting
- VTuber Yume Kotobuki Revealed as Seiyuu Mayu Iizuka
- Enviro-VTuber Lotl Love Partakes in Global Science Event on Wetlands Conservation
- Idol Corp: Bringing the VTuber Culture to Israel
- VTubers on the Discussion of Parasocial Relationships
- Independent VTuber/Artist Furaisen Opens Auditions for Indie Anime Project
- The Good
- Hololive Production: Hololive MCN Network, 3D Performance, HoloAlt, Mori X Gura’s New Song
- NIJISANJI: Finana Ryugu’s New Song, NIJISANJI ID Official JP Film Festival Partner, NIJISANJI Festival, Riku Tazumi Birthday
- Kizuna Ai, Inc.: Changes in Corporate Leadership and Kizuna Ai Concert Update
- On Other News: Nyanners’ Lore Video, SEGA’s PSO2 New Genesis VTuber
- Something To Ponder…
The Ugly and Bad
Holostars’ Hanasaki Miyabi Tests Positive for COVID-19
Hanasaki Miyabi, the first debut member of Holostars, the male VTuber group under Hololive, has tested positive for COVID-19. According to a statement from Cover Corp., the talent is currently receiving medical treatment and has stable physical conditions. Furthermore, the agency noted that no talents or employees have come in close contact with Miyabi. Get well soon, Miyabi.
Japan is currently dealing with a spike in COVID-19 cases. The country has tallied a total of 104,345 new cases as of this writing, the highest peak of recorded cases in Japan. Our colleagues in Seiyuu Corner have reported that several voice actors have contracted COVID-19.
Two More NIJISANJI Korea Members Announce Graduation
Two more members of NIJISANJI Korea have announced their graduation from their agency, namely Lee Siu and Ko Yami. Both VTubers have announced their graduation through an open letter at their respective Twitter accounts on February 2. Siu will be graduating on 20 March, while Yami will be graduating on 20 February.
The two graduations of NIJISANJI Korea add up to the eight other retired members of the group, the most recent of which is Nun Bora, who graduated in November 2021.
More VTubers and Their Works Illegally Uploaded as NFTs
We reported during our third week round-up about the case of VShojo’s talent channels being uploaded illegally as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on OpenSea, a popular NFT marketplace. Well, this week: another wave of illegally uploaded NFTs have been called out–a worrying number of cases.
The marketplace in question is HitPiece, a supposed NFT platform dedicated for music artists to upload their discography as NFTs. What struck the chord about the ‘shady’ side of the platform is that many music artists, including some from VTubers, have been uploaded on the platform without permission. Cases include Futakuchi Mana, Daryl Barnes for VShojo’s Silvervale, Phoebe and Peachy Franny, and there are more from the community that have been publicized as a warning.
Following the backlash from not just VTuber music artists but also from indie artists, HitPiece issued a short apology regarding the controversy, and the platform went dark as well for almost a week now, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
Malaysian Independent VTuber Group Myfantasia Warns of Fake Talent Accounts
MyFantasia, a Malaysian-based independent VTuber group, has warned its followers against fake accounts who pretend to be affiliated with the group. This follows after a recent stream where a supposed Foruto Akari appeared on the stream’s chat. The group clarified that Akari was not part of the group, and therefore followers should be wary of it.
MyFantasia is composed of 13 Malaysian-based independent VTubers, headed by MY-based VTuber Herozet.
VTuber Yume Kotobuki Revealed as Seiyuu Mayu Iizuka
The essence of being a VTuber is that people stream behind an avatar to create a virtual persona, as well as being able to stream comfortably with privacy in mind. However, in more recent months, there has been a trend of VTubers showing off the persona behind the talent.
Such is the case of Yume Kotobuki, a Japanese independent VTuber, who surprised fans during an announcement video that the person behind it is Mayu Iizuka, who has been cast in several anime role – most recently in the aptly-related seiyuu anime series CUE! as Airi Enawa.
She further explained on Twitter that she has been active as a VTuber for the past three years, and made a promise that in her fourth year to balance her role as a VTuber and seiyuu at the same time. We wish both Yume and Mayu the best this year!
Enviro-VTuber Lotl Love Partakes in Global Science Event on Wetlands Conservation
When you ask the community about what VTubers do, most would say streaming games, doing unarchived karaoke streams and having “just chatting” streams. But few people know that there is an upcoming trend of VTubers in the community whose goal is to educate people in various topics, such as science, anthropology, and history.
A good example of this is Lotl Love, an indie VTuber who discusses environmental conservation and sustainability. Recently, she announced that her upcoming stream on wetland conservation has been registered as an event in celebration of World Wetlands Day, hosted by the Ramsar Convention.
For context, Ramsar (short for Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat) is an international treaty signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971 as a way for the international community to recognize the importance of wetlands in our ecosystem.
This was not Lotl’s first foray in being part of a global science event. In June 2021, as part of the upcoming World Shark Day, she interviewed Dr. David Shiffman, a renowned scientist and conservationist dedicated to studying sharks.
Idol Corp: Bringing the VTuber Culture to Israel
The VTubing community has proved to be a global phenomenon, but for the most part it has concentrated itself on several markets, such as Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America. But what about countries and territories who don’t have their own VTuber talents? This is what Idol Corp, an upcoming VTuber agency, is trying to achieve, as it announced that it will be setting foot first in Israel.
This is an interesting proposition, considering the large number of nations are slowly catching up to the VTuber trend. However, it is also worth to note how Idol Corp plays out in such a country like Israel. Hopeful for what comes next with the group.
VTubers on the Discussion of Parasocial Relationships
On a serious note, one of the primary concerns about fan interactions between them and their favorite VTubers is how the connection feels on a parasocial level, meaning it is one-sided. More often than not, fans have become so immersed with following the VTubers they admire that it results in total disconnect from reality, or worse the fans being more adamant of attention.
As part of discussing the status quo of these relationships, independent VTuber Terumi Koizumi, known for her streams discussing the realities of VTuber connections, takes part in an upcoming discussion about parasocial connections with idols and VTubers.
Said event, Fandom February 2022 by Touyou no Shinju (Toushin) organization inside the Ateneo de Manila University, runs throughout the whole month of February. Register here for more details. (Anime Corner is a media partner for this event)
Independent VTuber/Artist Furaisen Opens Auditions for Indie Anime Project
Following his previous announcement of halting indefinitely VTuber activities, VTuber/artist Furaisen has announced that he has opened an indie anime project, and is calling for auditions for talents and artists to make the project possible. He added that the call for auditions has been made as the production for the series’ original song is nearing its completion.
As part of the requirements, applicants must be well-versed in any of the languages of Japanese, Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia, as well as English.
There’s a lot of good things to unpack from the VTuber community this week, from milestones to collaborations:
Hololive Production: Hololive MCN Network, 3D Performance, HoloAlt, Mori X Gura’s New Song
- Hololive Production has announced that it is establishing itself towards being a multi-channel network (MCN) on YouTube. This means that all talents under Hololive Production – whether from Japan, English, and Indonesia divisions – will be having a consolidated support from YouTube, as well as a more funneled-down stream of support from the agency regarding revenue, collaborations, and issues in copyright claims if ever.
- In a stream, Hololive EN’s Mori Calliope announced that Hololive English and Hololive Indonesia members will be able to perform in their 3D form for the upcoming Super Expo/Link Your Wish. Mori noted that this is not a 3D debut, although they want to make a proper one for them in the future.
- Hololive Alternative, the ‘alternative world’ project from Hololive has announced key updates on the progress of the project. These include the status of the development of the communication lobby, as well as another anime promotional video in the works regarding the project.
- Hololive English’s Mori Calliope and Gawr Gura together with composer DECO*27 released an original song titled “Q,” which has already reached 1 million views, 24 hours since its release.
- Holostars, the male group under Hololive Production, has announced a clothing collaboration with the Japanese arm of apparel and shoe company Converse. It should be recalled that Converse had previously announced a collaboration with Hololive’s Hoshimachi Suisei in December 2021.
- Usada Pekora, one of the well-known Hololive members part of the third generation, is among the top 5 female streamers globally in 2021. According to the report from Stream Hatchet, Pekora garnered around a total of 26.9 million watch hours on YouTube. She ranks third in the list after streamers Amouranth (38.8M) and Valkyrae (30.6M).
- Hololive officially gets a nod of approval from video game publisher Hamster Corporation to allow talents of the agency to stream the publisher’s games and monetize it.
- Minato Aqua, a second generation Hololive member, has been announced to be featured in her own game, slated for release this year. The game announcement, albeit its genre unknown, was made during her solo live concert.
- An upcoming face-to-face event awaits Hololive fans in Japan, as a Valentine’s Day-themed meet-up event is slated for 20 February at Bersaar Akihabara. A total of 15 Hololive talents will be present at the event.
- On a lighter note, Hololive English Hakos Baelz will be streaming all day for the month of February (yes, you heard that right). During her stream, she announced this as a way to celebrate her birthday month, which for now, doesn’t have a 29 February date (her birthday) due to 2022 not being a leap year.
- IRyS, the VTuber under Hololive English’s Project HOPE, was featured in an interview with JOYSOUND, Japan’s premiere karaoke brand. The interview was done as part of the promotion of IRyS’ album “Journey.”
- Last, but not the least: Akai Haato, also known as HAACHAMA, is finally back! You can drop by her upcoming stream later at 20:00 JST.
NIJISANJI: Finana Ryugu’s New Song, NIJISANJI ID Official JP Film Festival Partner, NIJISANJI Festival, Riku Tazumi Birthday
- Finana Ryugu, the NIJISANJI EN VTuber affiliated with its first wave group LazuLight, has released her debut single titled Tsunami. You can watch the music video here. As of this writing, the song has reached around 370,000 views.
- NIJISANJI in Indonesia has been tapped as one of the official partners of the upcoming Japanese Film Festival in Indonesia, to be held on 14 to 27 February. Said event is presented by Japan Foundation Jakarta.
- NIJISANJI officially announces its largest festival ever, NIJISANJI Festival 2022, to be held from October 1-2 at the Makuhari Messe. The announcement follows after the previously planned 4th Anniversary concert FANTASIA was canceled due to several of its members contracting COVID-19.
- Riku Tazumi, CEO of ANYCOLOR Inc., the company behind NIJISANJI, celebrated his 26th birthday on 3 February. Happy birthday!
- On a lighter note, have you seen Pomu Rainpuff’s latest multi-tasking stream? For around 40 minutes she tested out if she could do a multitasking stream by playing multiple video games at several computer windows, and doing karaoke at the same time.
Kizuna Ai, Inc.: Changes in Corporate Leadership and Kizuna Ai Concert Update
- The YouTube link for the upcoming concert Kizuna Ai: The Last Live is now up for public viewing. You can check out the waiting room here. It should be noted that the upcoming concert will be her last performance in the meantime as she goes on an indefinite hiatus.
- There have been changes as well in the corporate leadership at Kizuna Ai, Inc. In a press release, current CEO Eriko Matsumoto steps down from his current role, to be replaced by Takuro Arai.
On Other News: Nyanners’ Lore Video, SEGA’s PSO2 New Genesis VTuber
- Nyanners, a talent under VTuber agency VShojo, gets a full-on 17-minute video explaining her lore, focused on her journey as an eldritch spirit, summoned to planet Earth thousands of years ago, as well as being reincarnated as a cat spirit familiar. The video is conceptualized alongside popular webcomic creator Merryweather, alongside RAINA and Carillus.
- SEGA’s online role-playing game Phantasy Star Online 2 (PSO2) has appointed Popona, the VTuber affiliated with their own Idola Project, as its newest brand ambassador. The ambassadorship announcement was made February 1.
- In a rare endeavor in the VTuber community, three VTuber groups and agencies have joined forces in creating a unified Minecraft server, namely Phase Connect, Tsunderia, and PRISM Project.
- In celebration of her birthday on February 1, Suntory Nomu, the brand VTuber under beverage company Suntory, has announced the release of her fourth original song titled ‘Aoiro’.
- Popular YouTube animator/illustrator Emirichu officially makes her debut as a VTuber, her model being rigged by Kira Omori.
- Amano Nene, one of the VTubers under agency Production Kawaii, has reached its first major milestone of 100,000 subscribers.
- Two agencies have announced their respective updates on the hunt for the next VTuber talents and staff members. Digital media company Amber Glow has announced auditions for its generation 2 lineup, called Day and Night. Meanwhile, Philippine-based VTuber group 8THiR3AL has closed its auditions for potential staff members. Also from the Philippines, Studio A.X. rolls out its VTuber Production activities this year.
Something To Ponder…
We want to close off this VTuber News Round-Up rundown with some interesting and thought-provoking insights made by some members of the VTuber community.
- VTubing has become a new social outlet for a lot of content creators and fans alike, especially amplified during pandemic lockdowns. But sometimes, that outlet could result in a disconnect with real-life interactions, as this thought from VTuber Luma shows. In it, she explains how VTubing has helped her make connections in the community, as someone suffering with anxiety and ADHD. However, she ponders on how she doesn’t want to show off her life outside of VTubing.
- As life is slowly going back to normal, there is a major possibility that there will be more graduations we need to see–and just accept it, as AyuuChi shows. For her, the pandemic boosted the prominence of VTubers online, but with the ‘new normal’, there is a possibility for more VTubers to go back to their daily lives, and retire from their VTubing duties. As she would say, “show them some love before they dip.”
- Lastly, digital artist aelf raised concern about the prominence of VTubers using artwork made by the avatar-making service Picrew for streaming purposes, which falls under commercial use. For context, most artists on Picrew don’t allow the use of avatars created from their templates for commercial use.
What a rundown this has been! What do you think February has in store for us by the VTuber community? We’ll see you at the next VTuber News Round-Up next week!
Banner Photo: Finana Ryugu (©ANYCOLOR, Inc.), Nyanners (© VShojo), Usada Pekora (© COVER Corp.)