Virtual YouTubers for Dummies: Who Are They?

Take this article as a basic guide to Virtual YouTubers, the two major companies, and some personal recommendations. After that, you're all set to journey on your own to find your favorite one. If you're new to Virtual YouTubers or VTubers, you're in the right place.

Virtual Youtubers for Dummies: Who Are They?

Virtual YouTubers are big, like really big. They started rising to popularity last year, along with the lockdowns the Coronavirus has imposed on all of us. This meant that we had more time in our hands than ever. With all that time, people have searched for different content than the ones they’re used to. Which in turn led to the explosion of popularity they are experiencing right now.

What Are Virtual YouTubers?

Virtual YouTubers are your typical streamers; the only difference is their appearance. They usually don an anime-style avatar, which also adds to their own appeal. Each of them has their own setting and character (their avatar) to play, and they usually don’t go out of character, but when they do, it’s hilarious. Basically, they’re anime characters streaming their games or whatever they want.

(Meme Edition) You LAUGH You LOSE YLYL #0042

They’ve also been around for quite a while now and have only popped off last year; PewDiePie has even featured one in 2018 called Shizuka Rin, where she sang “Country Roads.” One of the earliest might be someone you know called Kizuna Ai.

The Two Major Companies

Virtual YouTubers have companies backing them so they can continue their streaming careers. They hold auditions where they ask hopefuls to send in their applications to try out for the positions/characters they have open. There are also others that exist, such as HoneyStrap and Animare, but for this article, I will only focus on the big ones: Hololive and Nijisanji.

Hololive

Possibly the one with the largest influence on the West, this is home to some of the popular ones like Inugami Korone and Shirakami Fubuki. Hololive is an idol-focused company where they train their talents to become idols as well. The idol industry in Japan is a big thing, and the only thing stopping them is how wack some of their talents are.

Murasaki Shion from Hololive

Murasaki Shion from Hololive

Despite this, Hololive is a great starting point for those interested as they also have an English branch, called HololiveEN, with talents speaking in English!

Nijisanji

Nijisanji is probably my favorite one as their talents embrace their, uhh, weirdness. They’re home to some of the funniest and wackiest Virtual YouTubers such as Tsukino Mito and Fumino Tamaki. They also hold live concerts where their talents sing and dance similar to Hololive, but that’s not their focus.

JK Gumi from Nijisanji

JK Gumi from Nijisanji

Their focus is more on streaming and providing content to their audience. Though not having the same amount of the Western audience as Hololive, they still have a fair bit of followers outside of Japan.

Personal Recommendations

I’ve watched Virtual YouTubers and followed them through translated clips a couple of months before they actually started getting some serious attention. With that being said, I’m going to divide my recommendations into three. Three from Hololive, three from Nijisanji, and one from Hololive EN for people who don’t understand much Japanese. 

Hololive Recommendations

1. Inugami Korone

You can’t go wrong with Korone. She’s a sweet and upbeat streamer with sadistic tendencies that get revealed every now and then. Even though her streams are in Japanese, it’s easy to follow her when she plays games.

Korone dropping the F Bomb in DOOM

She’s known for having endurance streams that can go for more than 12 hours. She once played Doom 64 in one sitting, which went for 10 hours. Recently she’s trying her best to learn English so she could communicate with her overseas fans.
YouTube | Twitter

2. Hoshimachi Suisei

If there’s one person to fulfill YAGOO‘s, the big boss of Hololive, it has to be Hoshimachi Suisei (Sorry, Sora). She has one of the best voices in Hololive and might just be one of the best Tetris players in Japan. She has gone toe-to-toe with Amemiya, the best Tetris 99 player in Japan, and almost won.

【ゾンビランドサガ】フランシュシュ「佐賀事変」/ 星街すいせい with ホロライブファンタジー(Cover)

Suisei likes to play games and does quite a bit of karaoke streams; her channel is much more music-focused than most of the Hololive members. Dubbed as a psychopath by her colleagues due to her feats in a game called Project Winter, this idol is not one to scoff at.
YouTube | Twitter

3. Tsunomaki Watame

If you want to just listen to someone while chilling, there are two Virtual YouTubers to tune in to: Nekomata Okayu and Tsunomaki Watame. But for me, Watame takes the cake.

Wholesome Moments when Watame gets Messages from Her 5yo Viewer【ENG SUB】【Hololive】

This is a personal preference as I found Watame much more endearing because of her tendency to be personal. She also has a soft and motherly voice, which makes her a nice one to fall asleep to.
YouTube | Twitter

Nijisanji Recommendation

1. Shizuka Rin

A criminally underrated streamer with not many clips of her. She’s considered one of the earlier Virtual YouTubers (not as early as Kizuna Ai, though) and one of the first talents to be signed by Nijisanji.

[NIJISANJI] Shizuka Rin Noises and Moment Compilation on Darksouls Remastered [ENG SUB]

She’s a calm streamer like Watame and enjoys playing single-player games like Resident Evil, Dark Souls, and The Last of Us. She also plays quite a bit of Final Fantasy XIV, which I sometimes watch to just hear her voice and fall asleep. She’s also the one that introduced me to the world of Virtual YouTubers!
YouTube | Twitter

2. Sister Cleaire

Nijisanji might be home to some of the most wack Virtual YouTubers you’ll find, but Sister Cleaire (yes, that’s how it’s officially spelled) is built different. She’s probably the most wholesome streamer in Nijisanji and people tune in to her streams just to watch her do cute things. She’s not that skilled in fast-paced or action-oriented video games but she enjoys games such as Animal Crossing

[Eng Sub] Dont Bully Sister Claire (Nijisanji)

She mostly does ASMR streams during afternoons (Japan Time) where she talks to her viewers while she does some work herself. Just like Shizuka Rin, she’s another underrated streamer that deserves more followers than she currently has.
YouTube | Twitter

3. Kanae

Male Virtual YouTubers aren’t usually popular, but Kanae stands above the rest due to his game skills. He plays Valorant and PUBG but mostly plays Apex Legends now together with his colleagues Chihiro and Kuzuha. While mostly remaining composed, his funniest moments involve him losing his cool and screaming.

[ENG SUB] Beginner's Guide to Kanae in 5 Minutes [Nijisanji]

He also has the reputation of a mischievous person because he has the tendency to troll his colleagues in-game and sometimes even in real life. The phrase “Kanae lies as naturally as he breathes” is a recurring phrase whenever he does mischievous stuff and lies nonchalantly about it.
YouTube | Twitter

Hololive EN Recommendation

1. Ninomae Ina’nis

Ninomae Ina’nis, or Ina, is a streamer from the English branch of Hololive. She plays different kinds of games such as Hollow Knight, Splatoon 2, and Lobotomy Corporation. But where she shines is not in her gaming skills but in her illustrations.

Ina Gets Confused With ENGLISH

Speculated as a professional illustrator even before her debut, she does drawing streams where her viewers can relax to. Ina is a very chill streamer, rarely raising her voice even during stressful times in the games she’s playing.
YouTube | Twitter

Closing

Before I proceed, I just want to thank the translators who essentially brought the culture to the west by translating clips of Japanese Virtual YouTubers. Some of them are not even being paid to do it and are just doing it because they want to. I took some of the videos in this article from some of the translators that I’m subscribed to. If you enjoy their content, subscribe to them and let them know!

Sister Cleaire from Nijisanji

Sister Cleaire from Nijisanji

Virtual YouTubers are relatively new to the sphere but have been slowly taking over some people’s YouTube recommended sections. They’ve exploded in popularity last year and don’t show any signs of slowing down. Heck, I even know people who use them to improve their Japanese listening skills. With all of that being said, there’s still a lot of stuff I haven’t covered in here, like others that are quite funny but aren’t new-people friendly like Fumino Tamaki (probably one of the most chaotic streamer around) and Amemori Sayo (weird, in an entertaining way), both from Nijisanji. The ones I’ve recommended are those that I felt would be more accommodating to new people trying to dip their toes into the culture.

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