Social media trends can explode overnight and become a mainstream sensation. Right now, the biggest social media trend is VTubers. On both Twitch and YouTube, a slew of content creators has exploded to recognizability almost out of nowhere. At the center of the VTuber sensation is a company known as Hololive.
But what is Hololive? And what exactly is VTubing? This is everything you need to know about the latest craze in streaming.
What is Vtubing?
VTubing is a genre of social media content that centers around personalities being portrayed as CG characters, which are often inspired by Japanese anime. Vtubers are always controlled by a human, unlike the virtual or CGI influencers that can be found on Instagram and Twitter.
Many VTubers prefer to remain anonymous and exclusively use their avatars in social media content. Some established content creators who normally show themselves on camera have also dabbled in VTubing with an animated “alter ego,” with the biggest such example being Imane “Pokimane” Anys who briefly dabbled in Vtubing.
taking no cam streams to the next level..
debuting vtuber pokimane 😳https://t.co/nlEB4gohua pic.twitter.com/TKexQ4ZaLy
— pokimane ❤️ (@pokimanelol) September 13, 2020
VTuber content can hypothetically include anything but on Twitch it is typically a live chat or let’s play, while YouTube includes these alongside vlogs and reaction videos. Though Vtubers typically maintain a broad social media presence, the nature of the content is primarily structured for streaming video and live streaming sites.
What is a Vtuber avatar?
A Vtuber’s avatar is the CGI character that represents the content creator on-screen. The Vtuber might have a unique personality that the content creator acts out when performing, or it may simply be an alternate look for them.
For example, YouTuber Connor “CDawgVA” Colquhoun occasionally dabbles in Vtubing on Twitch. While Vtubing, he is portrayed as an anime-like character. The content he creates while Vtubing is not significantly different from content he creates normally but instead of showing himself on screen, he shows his Vtuber avatar.
On the flipside, some Vtubers that don’t have a larger presence are full-blown fictional characters that canonically wound up creating content on social media. Gawr Gura is a popular Vtuber that comes from the city of Atlantis and can speak to fish, Zentreya is a dragon-human crossbreed, and so on.
What is Hololive?
Hololive is a talent agency that represents a long list of top Vtubers. Hololive is a subsidiary of Cover Corporation, which was founded in 2016 by Motoaki Tanigo, who designed video game characters in collaboration with Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty and Aggretsuko.
Originally, Hololive was an app designed by Cover Corporation that captured facial movements and allowed users to apply those facial movements to premade anime characters. In 2018, Hololive expanded into sponsoring streamers and YouTubers. Though Hololive originally only worked with Japanese influencers, it has expanded into a number of different regions and has content creators that speak a variety of languages.
Hololive previously had a number of different branches including the all-male Vtuber network Holostars and the music label INoNaKa Music, though these different brands were eventually merged into a single company named Hololive Production. Hololive also has international branches including Hololive English and Hololive Indonesia, as well as the now-defunct Hololive China.
Are there male Hololive members?
No. Hololive exclusively works with female influencers. However, Cover Corporation has a separate subsidiary named Holostars that works with male VTubers. There are currently nine active Vtubers under the Holostars umbrella.
What happened to Hololive China?
Hololive China was shut down in 2020 after a controversy involving Vtubers Akai Haato and Kiryu Coco. The pair discussed viewership metrics with their audience and in the process showed China and Taiwan as separate audiences.
The controversy involved China’s “One-China Policy,” which has been aggressively enforced across all manners of media within the country. The One-China Policy is designed to push against the notion of Taiwanese independence and asserts that Taiwan is a part of China. There has been a very long list of controversies in China stemming from any reference to Taiwan as an independent state.
Hololive quickly suspended Akai Haato and Kiryu Coco and released a series of statements apologizing for the perceived implication of Taiwanese independence. Despite this, all Hololive China talents were released in the months that followed before the Hololive China brand itself was dissolved.
Who is the biggest VTuber?
The biggest Vtuber is Kizuna AI, who has almost approximately 3 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, with her AI Gaming channel approaching 2 million subscribers. Though Kizuna AI was not the first person to use a digital avatar for vlogging content, many of the common conventions of Vtubing were established in Kizuna AI’s content.
Kizuna AI is not affiliated with Hololive but her content offering has been emulated by Hololive for use by its own content creators. This includes vlogs, let’s plays, and music.
Who is the most popular Hololive girl?
English-language VTuber Gawr Gura has the largest following of any Hololive personality. Gawr Gura has over 2.5 million subscribers on YouTube and could see her following grow larger than that of Kizuna AI in the near future.
Among Hololive’s Japanese personalities, Inugami Korone is currently the most popular with over 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube. Several other Hololive Vtubers have similar followings and could grow larger still, including Houshou Marine and Shirakami Fubuki.
Who is the biggest VTuber on Twitch?
The biggest VTuber on Twitch as of this writing is Codemiko, who has over 700,000 followers. Though her following on YouTube is much smaller than Kizuna AI or many Hololive Vtubers, she enjoys a very strong following on Twitch and other social media sites. Codemiko also streams often in her real-life persona, separating her from some other popular VTubers.
Alongside Codemiko are a long list of dedicated Vtubers on the site with strong followings. The second-largest is ironmouse who has over 500,000 subscribers.
Is VTubing free?
VTubing can be done cheaply, but is not completely free in most cases. As with any form of streaming, Vtubers require a strong internet connection, streaming software, video editing tools, a high-quality webcam, and a strong enough PC to run everything.
Beyond that, the price tag varies depending on how elaborate the aspiring Vtuber wants their avatar to be. If a person has the necessary hardware and software, they can produce some Vtuber content for free using different programs, but it will not be of particularly high quality.
For an affordable start to becoming a Vtuber, streamers can use one of many different face-tracking programs that allow users to put their facial movements on prefabricated characters. Some of these programs come with a price tag, while others are free but require a subscription or plug-ins to give users the ability to fully customize their VTuber avatar.
If a Vtuber wants to have a unique avatar, greater freedom of movement, or greater customizability, there will be price tags attached to these that can run into the thousands of dollars. But the most expensive cost for most Vtubers is commissioning an artist to create a 3D model for their avatar. This can cost thousands of dollars depending on what the person is looking for.
Some VTubers, such as CodeMiko, also use a full motion capture suit in order to have free and realistic movement for their avatar. Motion capture suits cost thousands of dollars and require different software to run.