I bear in mind a time when it will take me three hours to be taught Step 4 of How To Remedy A Rubix Dice from a 12-minute YouTube clip which buffered for a lifetime.
Streaming was in its infancy, and Annoying Orange was essentially the most hilarious leisure to my unrefined, 10-year-old style. Do not forget that?
(My 20-year-old colleague, Claudia, who sits beside me doesn’t.)
Now, right here I’m, 25 years previous and making an attempt to grasp the absurdity of the newest fad taking up the world:
Two weeks in the past, a confused me tried to decode the time period. “Vlogger-YouTubers?”, I meekly threw out. No, digital YouTubers, my colleagues corrected.
These entertainers use animated avatars of their movies, relatively than their bodily likeness. Like most vloggers, they speak to the digicam and share their ideas on a variety of subjects, from gaming streams to response movies and product critiques.
Characters are generated using computer graphics, often controlled anonymously using motion capture and other VR and AR technologies.
Vtubers adopt mannerisms to fit the backstory of their character, and just when you’ve thought you’ve seen it all, you’d see one claiming to be a dragon and another calling themselves Satan.
In 2016, the Japanese-developed Kizuna AI debuted on YouTube and coined the term Vtuber. Within 10 months, she amassed over two million subscribers.
It paved the way for what has since exploded in popularity with over 10,000 Vtubers across the globe, amassing over 1.5 billion views per month by the tail end of 2020.
Top content creators even earn millions for what they do. Take Vtuber Kiryu Coco, for example, who earns up to US$134,000 per month.
Even in Malaysia, we have our own Vtuber agency in the form of Projek Hikayat and MyHolo TV which seemingly have intentions of working with advertising and events companies to drive traffic and engagement.
Vtubers are not inherently bad. In fact, so many of them are extremely skilled with natural-born talents that can captivate audiences.
They can sing, play instruments, and are genuinely high-performing gamers which makes them famous for a reason. But, I don’t get the appeal on a personal level.
Are they trying to sound like mice?
Something I could not tolerate about Vtubers is how many of them were likened to anime-style avatars with large eyes, small mouths, brilliant hair colours, and not to mention, large… bossoms.
Let’s not forget the squeaky, high-pitched baby voice that made me want to rip my ears out. It’s the main reason I avoid watching anime in the first place.
These waifu-like character traits have been deemed by many online as “cute” or “sexy”. To each their own I guess, but it makes me uncomfortable, and I can’t help but feel disgusted with the content. (Plus, they scream a lot for some reason. Why?)
Of course, there are more digestible Vtubers out there. Mainly those that actually use their own human voice.
Along my quest of researching and consuming Vtuber content, it dawned on me that I’ve actually been following and enjoying videos from one of them for a while now.
Described as a pyramid against pyramid schemes, this Vtuber takes on the likeness of an Illuminati symbol and discusses how bad businesses go to die, amongst other things.
It goes to show that there’s something out there for everyone on the internet, and you can’t throw a blanket statement on Vtubers.
Anything can be a Vtuber, a gun, a lamp, heck, one can argue that Annoying Orange was the OG virtual YouTuber on the interwebs.
Why do they do this?
Ultimately, Vtubers are content creators expressing themselves on the internet using an avatar with the help of motion capture tech, and speech-to-text-to-speech voice-altering software (sometimes).
They may hide behind a different persona for various reasons, but the bigger one most Vtubers cite is the security and privacy this form of vlogging facilitates.
Vtubing is a unique creative outlet these individuals may otherwise not be exposed to due to anxiety, disabilities, or other reasons.
One Vtuber even spoke out about her personal health condition from a compromised immune system. Her sickness led to a point where human interactions were limited, and she was lonely while stuck in isolation.
“Since I started Vtubing, it brought meaning back to my life again, and I felt human for the first time,” said Ironmouse in an interview with Anthony Padilla. “I really feel like I’m lastly permitting myself to really feel glad and be enthusiastic about life as a result of it was actually tough.”
For audiences, they’re introduced with a type of escapism, and searching on the state of the world proper now, it’s no marvel persons are appealed to by these characters.
Vtubing in itself offers immense management, freedom, and revenue stream to creators, and permits them to supply content material in no matter method they need (so long as it’s inside their company’s laws, for individuals who are a part of a bunch).
The truth that they’ve a following any up-and-coming creator can be envious of is telling of their success in capturing their very own set of followers.
So, perhaps, simply perhaps, I must be the one who embraces this type of content material supply and retains up with the instances. However my god, I’m nonetheless terrified.
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Featured Picture Credit score: Kizuna AI / Zentreya / Ironmouse / kuzuha blood pack / Inugami Korone