The Massive Rise of the VTuber Industry


Ever thought about your favorite streamers becoming anime characters? Well, welcome to the VTuber community where streaming takes place in a world where these two meet. VTuber or Virtual YouTubers are streamers that, instead of showing themselves, are replaced by a 2D or 3D animated persona (with the help of motion capture).

This type of content is not only exclusive to YouTube; you can find VTubers streaming on Twitch and other platforms. You may also discover some just making short videos on TikTok with their avatars or also going live just to chat. Their usual content includes streaming games, tatsudans or chatting streams, ASMR, and collaboration with other VTubers. 

VTuber history course

The trend of VTubers started in Japan and has been around since the 2010s. However, the popularity has risen only around the 2020s, and we could probably assume this was due to the lockdown. There has also been a recent surge of English-speaking streamers. An example of that would be two of the biggest and still most subscribed female VTubers, Gawr Gura and Mori Calliope from hololive production.

There are several agencies that are big in Japan for scouting people to become VTubers like Anycolor Inc. (NIJISANJI Project) established in 2018 or, as mentioned above, Cover Corporation (Hololive Production) which started in 2019. Recently, there have been more global openings of agencies from Asia and Western countries. You can also find a lot of independent streamers that are not under any companies and finance themselves, like Rumi.

Another category worth mentioning is that VTubers are not restricted to 2D human personas, but you can also find a variety of streamers as animals or objects. An example of this would be Theonemanny who uses an adorable dog with headphones as their model.

The dilemma of a separate persona

Most VTubers hide their real identity and focus on being the character they are portraying. I think this adds to their likeness because, just like any other form of entertainment, there’s a sense of mystery and disconnectedness from the real world. It’s exactly why I compare VTubers to anime characters that have come to life.

Of course, you can also find those that are comfortable with sharing their real selves, like kson ONAIR. She does both VTuber content and normal streaming without her persona. What’s more interesting is that she has both Japanese and English audiences which is a hard feat to achieve in the industry. She says in an interview with Trash Taste that “Japanese people mostly don’t want to see my 3D high polygon stuff. It’s not like they don’t love me in that style. It’s like I could, I don’t know, they relate more to the anime figure.”

Interview with TheOneManny and Rumi

To understand more about the career of VTubers, I had the privilege to talk to TheOneManny and Rumi and ask them about their content and careers. As an introduction, Manny started streaming in 2014, playing little indie games that didn’t have good graphics. He only had 0.4kb upload due to living in a tiny village that he said, “probably only discovered electricity 100 years ago, so the Internet was pretty bad there”. Manny usually streams variety-gaming content, chatting/non-gaming content, and high-energy content that he believes draws a lot of people in.

Meanwhile, Rumi came into the industry in 2021. She tries to create funny, relaxing, and enjoyable content for her community. She loves gaming, reading, music, teaching, and especially being super creative. Her main content for her streams is playing Destiny 2, but she also has a separate YouTube channel for FPS games and ASMR content.

Pros and cons of VTubing

Both Vtubers took inspiration from other streamers they had seen or had been following. With Manny starting out during a time when VTubing wasn’t even a word and Rumi starting out, setting a challenge to handle her social anxiety. I asked the two as well about what they thought were the pros and cons of their career.

Manny’s take on this

Manny stated that the main pro of being a streamer is making content. Although sometimes it’s hard to find ideas sometimes, he enjoys creating content continuously. He also mentioned that this relates to Vtubing wherein you have much more control over making your own world. You can put various assets and backgrounds along with your model. He believes it’s also a good-paying job and that he would not have been to places if he was in any other career. And of course, there’s the beauty of not needing to make yourself look presentable whenever you have a scheduled stream.

VTuber Theonemanny on Twitch
Manny usually streams a variety of gaming content, chatting/non-gaming content, and high-energy content that he believes draws a lot of people in (Image: Theonemanny)

What Manny considered a major con is the fact that you have to be at a certain level in your career before you can take 3-4 days without worrying about losing your audience. But other than that, he says most cons are just the basic tech and Internet issues everyone deals with. Obviously, he also mentions that you have to deal with the Internet and everyone on it, which brings us to the major pros and cons of Rumi.

Rumi’s side of things

Rumi has had both pleasant and unpleasant experiences being a female on the Internet. She says that the community is super accepting and don’t care what’s “behind the model”. She’s made wonderful friends and interactions with the people she’s met and just loves how diverse everyone is.

VTuber Rumi playing Destiny 2 on Twitch
VTuber Rumi playing Destiny 2 on Twitch (Image: Rumi)

However, while these exist, she has dealt with harassment and people with no boundaries. She’s had many people come in and make sexual remarks and feel that it’s okay or normal to do that. She says that sometimes people forget there’s an actual person behind the character they see on screen.

Longevity and final thoughts

Lastly, I asked both Vtubers what they thought about the longevity of their careers in streaming. Rumi says it’s hard to know what the future holds and while it may lead to her graduating (aka stopping) one of these days, she plans to continue on for at least a few more years. Meanwhile, Manny says that he’s been doing this for 9 years and can see himself doing it until he’s a “crusty old man”.

I would like to thank Manny and Rumi for being a part of this article and taking the time to share us their insights and experiences. If you want to jump into viewing VTubers, you can follow TheOneManny on Twitch, Twitter, TikTok, and FreshCut. Similarly, Rumi can also be found on Twitch, Twitter, TikTok, and Carrd. She also has dedicated YouTube accounts for Destiny 2 content as well as ASMR and FPS content.

Photo credit: Images depicting Rumi and Manny are owned by them and are used with permission. 

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Ela Denise Buendia
Ela Denise Buendia
Hey, thanks for taking a look at my article! I'm Ela, a very passionate creative writer and full-time home gamer. I'm also Filipino so hopefully you already know someone like me since we are everywhere lol. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration Major in Marketing Management, which I hopefully will be able to use in the future. Make sure to check out my other articles and don't hesitate to drop by our Discord and say hi!
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