What is VTuber? What makes VTubers so popular?

July 14, 2021

What is the vtuber?

A few years ago, the concept of these virtual personalities—referred to as vtubers—would likely have seemed incredibly niche. In 2021, however, a bunch of characters have developed numerous followings, giving real YouTubers a run for their money. So who are these so-called vtubers? In case you do not know the term, a vtuber is a virtual creator. Vtubers are typically animated with voices provided by their creators. Most current vtubers are made from anime characters, with large eyes and boisterous personalities. Some of them have complex and fantastical backstories, where others are presented as average creators. Apart from that, vtubers are very similar to any other YouTuber. Their videos often see them reacting to other YouTube content or current events, chatting with followers, or even streaming games. Some of them are even real people but in animated form. Even casual YouTube users have likely come across at least one vtuber in their browsing. If all else fails, a video from Barbie—yes, that Barbie—has likely come across most people’s newsfeed at least once. There are far more offerings than just Barbie’s chipper persona.

Hololive’s Gawr Gura has been the most success VTuber over the last 12 months, and now, she has great recognition to show for it. She has overtaken Kizuna AI to become the most well-known VTuber on YouTube, shattering an enormous milestone along the way. Among all of the Hololive EN VTubers, no one has been more popular than Gawr Gura. Since showing first appearance in September 2020, she has brought YouTubers into the mainstream more than any avatar before. Her character ⁠— a cute blue shark ⁠— and her mix of gaming and musical content took everyone by storm. Now, she has all the applause of an audience to go along with that. Since her channel launched in July 2020, her special lore and infectious personality has earned her an numerous following in the few months. Gawr Gura takes advantage of the unlimitation that her format allows. Instead of aim for a realistic character, her creators went for the truly fantastic.

Gawr Gura got the 3 million YouTube subscriber mark ⁠— her fan base is affectionately called Chumbuds ⁠— becoming the first VTuber to do so. The fact she did so over 12 months, ahead of the multiple generations of Hololive talent that debuted before her, is even more impressive. She also overtook Kizuna AI, widely considered to be the first VTuber. Kizuna AI has 2.97 million subscribers on YouTube, which Gura officially overtook on June 30.

Gawr Gura has already earned nearly $1 million in Chat revenue on YouTube (similar to donations on Twitch) in her 10 months on the platform, putting her in the top 30 of the platform according to stats site Playboard. Often, VTubers have massive celebrations for their milestone streams like 1 million or even 2 million subscribers. Gawr Gura celebrated her past milestone streams with a Karaoke party. With 3 million being an amazing record, it’s expected to be a great celebration across the entire Hololive. It’s also likely she will break that $1 million Super Chat revenue milestone. It comes after Hololive announced that the first run of merchandise for their English VTubers. Gawr Gura herself will be immortalized in a Nendoroid figure fans will be able to pick up in the upcoming months once it can be pre-order. The next most subscribed VTuber in the Hololive family is Inugami Korone on 1.57 million, with Usada Pekora in third at 1.56 million. Gura’s lore identifies her as a descendent of the Lost City of Atlantis. She claims herself to be upward of 9,000 years old, a shark, and an excellent gamer. She made her way out of her watery home and into the human world out of pure boredom. Like Gawr Gura, Inugami Korone is not quite as human as some of her counterparts. While she mostly gathers the typical sweet and docile anime girl, her ears and tail as well as her overtly dog-like personality set her apart. Her personality has earned Korone upward of a million subscribers in under two years. Her channel launched in March 2019. Korone often spends her streams producing simple videos. She prefers retro games, chats with her fans, and interacts with other VTubers. This pink-haired girl is everything you could imagine in a vtuber. Her personality is charming and witty. She enjoys nostalgic video games, singing, and voice acting. Though Kizuna AI is widely credited as the first vtuber, Nyanner’s YouTube account has been around since 2011. She may not have gathered the same following as Kizuna, but she’s certainly put in the legwork. Kiryu Coco, unlike many of her peers, consistently pushes the bounds of what is acceptable among vtubers. She employs crude humor, swearing, and lewd jokes into her streams on a consistent basis. Her videos tend to feature her gaming, teasing other vtubers, and generally acting like most YouTubers. She is quite different from your average YouTuber, however. Coco is a child dragon who has immersed herself in human culture. Despite being around for around 3,500 years, Coco appears to be a young woman with a long tail and modest horns. Her channel has been active since December of 2019.

Who is the first vtuber?

Considered the first official vtuber, Kizuna AI has been around since 2016. Over the years, she has gotten nearly 3 million subscribers on her main account alone, with another 1.5 million on her gaming channel.The exception is her main voice, Nosomi Kasuga, a woman who went on to run the company.Kizuna is outgoing and enjoys trying new activities on her channel, while maintaining the idea that she is simply an AI come to life. This suspension of disbelief in her lore allows for people to raise debates about technology and the expanse of AIs. Could they one day come to life in a similar way, and would we recognize it? This very interesting concept has led to her continued success through the years. Kizuna, like all vtubers, has a well-fleshed and complete backstory. Unlike her peers, Kizuna refers to herself as an independent virtual person, hence the AI in her name. Kizuna AI speaks Japanese in all of her videos, shares life stories, and participates in challenges.

What is Nijisanji vtuber?

Nijisanji is a group of mostly 2D-only Virtual YouTubers who are also known as “Virtual Livers” when posting on sites outside of YouTube, such as NicoNico Douga and Bilibili. The term Liver, coined by mixing Japanese and English, is a heteronym for calling Nijisanji’s streamers. The group started in Japan in early 2018 and has since expanded to other countries as an international project. As of July 2021, there are 176 members in Nijisanji for all of its branches: 102 active Japanese Nijisanji members, 16 active NIJISANJI ID members, 16 active NIJISANJI KR members, 3 active NIJISANJI EN members and 39 active VirtuaReal members.There are also 5 VirtuaReal Star members and 22 VirtuaReal Link members who are independent VTubers, not considered part of Nijisanji person and are only in a network partner system. Kuzuha has the highest number of followers in Nijisanji with Tsukino Mito, Kanae and Honma Himawari following close behind. As of 2021, the group has approximately 28 million subscribers on YouTube for all of the 137 members (JP/ID/KR/EN) who have it as their main platform. VirtuaReal members aren’t included as they have bilibili as its main platform.

How do VTuber models work?

The Virtual YouTubers (or Vtuber) have taken the internet by storm. Virtual YouTuber is here to stay after becoming trend in Japan beginning of 2018. There are many of them with a great following, some of them have over millions of subscribers, making them very interesting for merchandise such as official promotional material, and collaborations with other YouTubers. But what is the technology behind these virtual girls? The setup of a Virtual YouTuber mostly involves facial recognition, gesture recognition and animation software. Combining these technologies can be surprisingThe best known issue with this technology is the revealing of Noracat true identity in a live broadcast. Well known companies in the Virtual YouTuber space like Cygames and CAPTUREROID use this typical Vtuber setup. One of the most famous Vtuber at the moment is Kizuna AI, with millions of subscribers to her channel. She is also the spokeswoman for the Japan National Tourism Organization. English speaking Vtbers like Codemiko are also coming up. First of all, you need an Vtuber avatar. A full-body avatar needs to act and move naturally and having a unique avatar is not easy to make. To pull it all together you need 3D animation software such as Unreal, Unity 3D or iClone. It is real easy to stream Xsens' motion capture data into all major 3D animation software packages. In this setup you see the full-body motion capture system in Xsens, including the ‘MVN Link’ hardware. The live motion capture data can be streamed into Unity using Xsens' MVN Animate software to give you the best quality data you can gain. There is more technology available to get your YouTuber avatar live on screen, the Vtuber market is developing rapidly. Xsens motion capture technology has already been a proven technology for several and has a long track record in live and streaming animations.