VTubers are gaining traction as a form of online entertainment, but what are the reasons behind audiences' interest in them? Why are VTubers so popular right now?
For newcomers, the trend might seem somewhat bizarre. There's already an element of artificiality in watching YouTubers share their life online.
Some might feel that VTube places an additional barrier between viewer and entertainer because it involves an avatar, rather than a real person.
Below, we explain this relatively recent phenomenon and its popularity.
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First Things First: What Are VTubers?
VTubers, (an abbreviation of Virtual YouTubers), are online YouTube channels where an anime-like avatar, rather than the person behind it, is the main focus.
The VTube phenomenon began in 2016 and has since then exploded in popularity.
Despite their name, VTubers might operate on other platforms, such as Twitch, or other similar online environments.
Why Are VTubers So Popular?
There are several reasons VTubers are gaining so many subscribers. One of the reasons YouTube, Twitch, and other similar platforms work so well is that they have something for everyone.
Whatever your niche interest, chances are that someone on YouTube caters to it. VTube is one such niche, and it is amassing kin following.
Love for Anime Aesthetics
For many anime fans, interest isn't limited to anime series and manga. Other media increasingly use anime-like aesthetics and VTube appeals to fans of those.
Think of visual novels, for instance. These are essentially video games based almost entirely on navigating through a written story, making the occasional dialogue choice.
In visual novels, players don't really get to explore much as the setting is described through text.
Visuals are limited to a background and, of course, the characters you interact with. These characters are usually drawn in anime style.
This type of game isn't for everyone, but many fans love them. They have no trouble identifying with and caring about the characters.
Those who enjoy this type of anime-like interaction may sometimes also find VTube to their liking.
A VTuber can be any sort of character, human or non-human. Moreover, adventurous or fantastical elements might be easier to achieve in a VTube channel.
Unless YouTubers have a huge CGI budget equivalent to that of TV studios, they are probably unable to portray fantasy and sci-fi scenarios in an immersive way that makes you forget you're watching a video.
VTube is less limiting that way because the avatar is fictional anyway, and a non-human anime character such as an elf won't look out of place among human anime avatars.
Those who watch streamers to be immersed in fantastic scenarios might therefore find VTube appealing.
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The Comfort of an Avatar
Some people enjoy VTube because the potential anonymity can allow for openness to discuss difficult topics.
While some VTubers might openly share real details about the person behind the avatar, others prefer to keep the virtual avatar entirely separate from themselves.
The latter might find role-playing liberating and address topics they might otherwise not have, or simply stream great content they don't want to associate with their real identity.
Moreover, VTubers who remain anonymous can focus on creating the content they like without being constrained by the often toxic expectations of the idol industry.
Talent, No Matter the Form
Many VTubers are talented in some way. They can be great singers or storytellers, or make entertaining game streams.
Some viewers might find the idea of watching an avatar do what a YouTuber normally does uncanny. After all, VTube is not for everyone.
But some people might get used to and even like the idea of cute avatars and ultimately enjoy the content regardless of the extra barrier.
Discover more of our insights and the latest anime news by following us on Twitter @epicstreamanime.
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