VTubers are online streamers who present themselves in the form of animated avatars. Everything that your typical YouTube or Twitch streamer does, you'll also see VTubers do.
Gaming streams? Of course.
Chat streams? Yep.
Art streams? Indeed.
Singing streams? Lovely.
So there's really not much different between virtual streamers and other traditional streamers in the activities they perform. There are cases where streamers have switched between virtual and real modes, or who stream in both modalities. But one benefit of the virtual streaming mode is that the virtual avatar allows for a streamer to have a distinct break between the performance they put on stream and the rest of their life they have off-stream. It can provide a mask to let those that would otherwise be too shy or afraid to stream to be able to connect with others. This thread is here to primarily share the fun that can be had with this new and growing form of entertainment. Welcome to the rabbit hole, enjoy your stay.
No overview of VTubers is complete without mentioning Kizuna Ai. While Ai's not the first to produce online content through a virtual avatar, she is by and large the origin point for the modern idea of what it means to be a virtual entertainer, and the origin for the term "Virtual YouTuber" in the first place. Her intricate 3D tracking, including through full concerts, are a notably strong aspect of her content. While Ai has paused her regular video content following her annual "hello, world" concert at the end of February 2022, she still has other projects in progress outside of the YouTube space; she remains a major icon of VTubers as a whole.
One of the two major Japanese-based VTuber agencies, Nijisanji made its mark as a major force in establishing the current formula for VTubers: entertainers who broadcast live-streamed content using 2D avatars. The agency now hosts more than 150 talents across their domestic branch and their growing international branches. While the number of "livers" (that's live-ers, not the bodily organ) within the organization may seem intimidating, the large number of streamers also presents an incredibly diverse variety of styles and interests. Notably, while many groups are generally composed of female-presenting avatars, Nijisanji has a large contingent of male streamers under their umbrella. The (re)launch of a dedicated English-speaking branch from May 2021 presents an easy entry point into the group.
The other major Japanese-based VTuber agency, and arguably the agency with the largest international reach. Overseas clip translation and the opening of their English-speaking branch in September 2020 established hololive as many international viewers' reintroduction to VTubers outside of Kizuna Ai. The "idol" moniker given to their talents might bring to mind singing, dancing, and variety shows, but most of hololive's talents are not particularly different from other VTubers in what their general activities look like. The "idol" label does mean that they play things a bit safer than other major groups, but it also makes them a generally easy starting point if you're getting familiar with what VTubers do.
Side note: while hololive is most-known for their female streamers under the hololive name, the agency also has a male streamer branch, holostars. As of July 2022, holostars has also opened up an English-speaking group of male VTubers.
VShojo is an English-based collective, and the newest agency covered in this list, having been established in November 2020. However, the agency carried a lot of presence straight from its inception, as most of its founding talents were already known from their independent VTubing activities and close associations with one another before the group was formally announced. As of July 2022, VShojo has also added Japanese-speaking talents to their roster. The VShojo members usually livestream on Twitch, with their YouTube channels generally focused on archives and clips. VShojo also has a bit of a reputation for being quite a bit spicier than the two other Japanese-based agencies highlighted above.
There are dozens of other VTuber groups out there, and thousands of individuals who stream with a virtual avatar. While there are still costs to be had in avatar artwork, model rigging, and software, those costs are not so insurmountable that VTubing is such an exclusive group. It is increasingly becoming just another style for content creators to put a face forward to their audience.
Links to Kizuna Ai's YouTube channel, and the websites of the three spotlighted groups, are embedded in the image headers above. There's way too many other individuals and groups to start linking without things getting too bloated or inevitably leaving some notable VTuber out. There is a Virtual YouTuber Wiki on fandom.com
, but it's a bit of a jungle.
For the most part, discovery comes from word of mouth; in this thread, we're mostly sharing streams and clips of our favorite talents. Stream links and clips are also an invaluable resource for VTubers outside of the major groups to get discovered and access to a larger audience. Post your favorite indie, and maybe you'll give them a much appreciated new viewer to enjoy what they do.
You might also try diving into holodex.net
, which provides a directory to current and upcoming VTuber streams. While it started out as a hololive-centric resource, it now covers Nijisanji and many smaller-group and independent VTubers on the YouTube platform. It's also a useful resource for those who are well into the VTuber rabbit hole, for watching multiple streams at the same time, such as during collaborations.Minimize discussion of VTuber identities
- In many cases, the Vtuber character exists as a separation between the streamer's front-facing entertainer persona and their private life away from the screen. Other VTubers will retire a persona to take up the mantle of a new character, as is often the case when someone joins a VTuber group. A general rule of thumb used by the community at large is to spoiler any discussion that connects an individual talent to their alternative faces. While there are different degrees of secrecy in the connection between a streamer's multiple roles (with a few exceptional cases where there's little to no barrier), it's still a good rule to follow in general, as different people interested in VTubers will have different levels of engagement and desire in that kind of information. If you're interested in a talent's work at large, that's research you can put in on your own time.Source your translations
- A lot of the more prominent VTubers hail from Japan, and so naturally stream and post on social media in Japanese. If you're posting a translation of a VTuber tweet, try to source your translation. This is especially important if you're relying on a machine translation: while services like Google Translate and DeepL have made great improvements in recent years, they still have lapses in context that can mislead or misinform. So citing your sources can be useful so that an appropriate weight can be put on how valid the translation is.Avoid spreading unconfirmed rumors
- Entertainment and being in the public eye brings with it the potential of unwanted drama, whether you're behind a virtual avatar or not. So if you want to discuss something of a serious nature, double-check that you're taking from reliable, and ideally, direct sources. Serious news is already tough enough to deal with on its own, but having it come from a place of uncertainty or rumors can bring about an needless and unnecessary rise in emotions.Previous ThreadsAug 2021 - Dec 2021Jan 2022 - Aug 2022