Note: Page is still under construction
2018 saw the explosion of VTubers: internet personalities with virtual avatars. Since Kizuna AI first popularized the concept of a “Virtual YouTuber”, the word “VTuber” has expanded to include literally thousands of virtual personalities, who livestream or upload videos to any number of online platforms (with some calling themselves “Virtual Live-ers” to avoid being tied to YouTube).
Here we will introduce both the recurring characters in Virtual Friends Are Watching, as well as the various memes and terminology associated with each character and the VTuber scene as a whole.
HimeHina (Tanaka Hime & Suzuki Hina)
Siro (Den’nou Shoujo Siro)
Cyber Girl Siro is .LIVE’s second VTuber, following Baacharu (for whom she often shows contempt, due to his weird behavior). She has been uploading videos daily since her debut, in addition to streaming weekly, hosting a triweekly TV program, and participating in various promotional campaigns.
She’s an AI who likes (virtual) sweets and cats, but hates horror and creepy-crawlies. Her dream is to become an idol and hold her own live concerts. She speaks English fairly well and is known for her high pitched laughter, which fans compare to dolphin sounds. She eventually adopted this dolphin motif for herself, with it being incorporated into her design.
She gained traction with her early PUBG and DBD videos, where she showed some psychopathic tendencies (see “seiso” below), but she’s actually a very sweet girl.
Her fans are called “Sirogumi” and are often depicted as tofu due to the default avatars in her company’s (now dead) VR streaming platform.
The self-proclaimed “world’s first male Virtual YouTuber” and the producer of .LIVE’s Idol Club group of VTubers.
Affiliation: upd8 (formerly independent)
Affiliation: ENTUM (formerly independent)
Started as the main character of a (still ongoing) independent short-form absurdist web animation series, but began also doing gameplay streams and other YouTuber activities, eventually being recognized as a VTuber. He’s a 5-year-old peanut whose goal is, as stated in both the title of his webseries and Twitter handle, to become hip.
He works closely with Ponpoko the tanuki ninja, originally a supporting character in the webseries. Together, they’ve hosted hosted two popular 24-hour livestreams featuring a myriad of guests from and related to the V scene.
Hololive’s first virtual idol and Virtual YouTuber. Her kind-hearted, comforting, and unironically wholesome personality has led many fans to call her “motherly”. A big fan of horror games, which do not seem to scare her in the least.
Quite musically inclined, she has published various covers and original songs on her channel, including collaborations with producers from the Vocaloid scene, and recently announced her debut album with a major record label.
Her fans are known as “Soratomo”, and she is often accompanied by a stuffed bear called Ankimo, who frequently gets buried (a meme from her earlier livestreams, when technical difficulties caused him to clip into the ground). Her best friend and manager is known only as “Friend A” or, more familiarly, “A-chan” (@achan_UGA). Originally a behind-the-scenes staff member, A-chan began to make appearances in Sora’s videos (usually as the victim of Sora’s horror games) and eventually got her own virtual avatar, which makes occasional appearances at events.
Unity-chan (Ootori Kohaku)
Affiliation: Unity Technologies Japan
Affiliation: VEEMusic (independent)
- 0:15 – “some old dude pretending to be a girl” references the “babiniku” class of VTubers, in this case Nekomasu specifically, who is the OG babiniku.
- 0:22 – There is indeed a virtual grandma, and Hello Kitty does have her own channel nowadays. “Strangled Hamtaro” is a nickname of Kaguya Luna, whose voice is said to resemble, well…
- 0:43 – “dolphin” is a nickname of Siro’s, because of the high-pitched, chirpy way she laughs. The rest of the line refers to her violent and psychopathic tendencies, despite her insistence on being wholesome.
- 2:25 – “Comaneci” refers to a signature gag by comedian Beat Takeshi, which is named after gymnast Nadia Comăneci. The gag consists of Beat Takeshi dropping into a frog-like crouch and using his arms to emphasize a V-shape around his crotch, to imitate the high-legged leotard worn by Ms. Comăneci during her Olympic appearances.
- 5:28 – Raising their rating is a reference to competitive Pokémon, one of the main topics of Kaede’s videos.
- 7:13 – “Virtual Grandmother” is Kobayashi Sachiko, a famous enka singer with a lengthy career that’s been going since the 60s. In recent years, she’s gained popularity with the younger generation when videos of her went viral on Nico Nico Douga, and is now a frequent guest at Nico Nico-related events. Dwango, the production company of this anime, also runs Nico Nico Douga.
- 9:11 – “Ahh, the sound of wholesomeness…” (seiso no oto) is a reference to this infomercial where a woman gets very excited over hydrogen water. When the bottle is opened at 0:22, she utters “Ahh, the sound of hydrogen!” (suiso no oto).
- 11:41 – Fuji Aoi Park is a reference to Fuji Safari Park, known for this ad with the memorable honto ni honto ni honto ni honto ni raion da (they’re really, really, really, really lions) song.
- 13:54 – Virtual Red Light District, or more specifically Virtual Kabukichō, Kabukichō being a district of Tokyo known for its love hotels, among other things.
- 17:19 – The gay porn bit happened in one of her streams, where she played Stereotype Boys’ Love by Europe Kikaku, thinking that it’s just a typing game, when it turns out to be some serious BL. This also saw the birth of another meme, “Gotta hide it with myself” (watakushi de kakusanakya), from her trying to hide the visuals with her own avatar.
- 18:29 – “I won’t stop” is a variation of a line from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, spoken by Orga Itsuka in episode 48: “Don’t you ever stop”. Someone commented with the original line during one of Sora’s livestreams, and Sora responded with “I won’t stop”, presumably without knowing the reference. It’s now turned into her unofficial catchphrase.
- 21:45 – Squishy melon buns comes from this collab video between Siro and Akari, where Siro says she likes Akari enough “to want to eat her squishy melon buns”, and Akari responds with “especially the tip, right?”.
“babiniku” (reincarnate as a virtual cute girl)
“Babiniku” stands for “baacharu bishoujo juniku” or “reincarnate as a cute virtual girl”. It refers to male VTubers with female avatars. Babiniku VTubers are almost exclusively independents, and a good many are professional illustrators, hence why they can draw cute girls so well. So far, Virtual Friends does not feature any babiniku VTubers, though it has referenced them.
VTubers who are affiliated with a company or talent agency. Corporate VTubers are more likely to have full 3-D models, as well as a professional motion capture studio and a staff to plan and edit their videos. They are also more likely to do sponsored content or appear in major sponsored events. Some corporate VTubers plan their own content and record from home, like independent VTubers, with the company providing technology, artwork, promotion, and support. Some independent VTubers eventually sign on with a company and become corporate, in which case the company’s level of involvement varies on a case-by-case basis. Contrast with independent VTubers.
Amateur VTubers who are not affiliated with any agency or company. Most are one-person operations, using original artwork for their avatar and consumer software to do face-tracking and animation. Though they don’t have the benefit of corporate funding and promotion, some can still get quite big. Contrast with corporate VTubers.
One of the most widespread and well-known of VTuber memes is “seiso”, which we translate as “wholesome”. It refers to a character type defined by innocence, purity, and propriety. It is also used ironically to refer to a character who definitely does not have those qualities, or who tries and fails to act pure and wholesome. “Seiso” as a meme originated with Siro and is strongly associated with Tsukino Mito (in both cases, in ironic usage).
Special thanks to the VTuber fan community for their contributions to this page and their expertise on the VTuber scene.