Why Are VTubers So Popular?

Why Are VTubers So Popular shylily
Credit: Gawr Gura / Hololive

Why Are VTubers So Popular shylily
Credit: Gawr Gura / Hololive

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?

What Are VTubers
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Credit: Shylily

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.

Many are affiliated with agencies like Hololive. Meanwhile, other VTubers create content independently.

What Makes VTubers So Popular?

What Makes VTubers So Popular
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Credit: Gawr Gura / Hololive

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

Why are VTubers So Popular - Anime Aesthetics
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Credit: Team Salvato, Serenity Forge

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 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 also find VTube to their liking for similar reasons.

Room for Fantasy and Sci-fi Scenarios

Why are VTubers So Popular - Fewer Limitations
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Credit: Yukihana Lamy / Hololive

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.

Think of Gawr Gura, the most popular English-speaking VTuber, for instance. The friendly sea creature from Atlantis is over 9,000 years old, proving one is never too old to follow their dreams.

Those who watch streamers to be immersed in fantastic scenarios might therefore find VTube appealing.

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The Comfort of an Avatar

Why are VTubers So Popular - Avatars
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Credit: Nanato Nana / Siokazunoko / J-Novel Club

Some people enjoy VTube because the potential anonymity can allow for openness to discuss random 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.

VTuber fans enjoy this idea of freedom to discuss random, difficult, or silly topics and might find that VTube offers a flavor of wildness that conventional streaming lacks.

Talent, No Matter the Form

Why are VTubers So Popular - Talent
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Many VTubers are talented in some way. They can be great singers or storytellers. Others make entertaining game streams on Twitch or other similar platforms.

Sometimes, they also do longer streams that fans enjoy as relaxing, cute background noise.

Some viewers might find the idea of watching an avatar do what a YouTuber normally does rather uncanny. After all, avatar movements don't always look natural and 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.

Why Do Many Entertainers Stream Behind an Avatar?

Why Do Entertainers Become VTubers
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Credit: Watson Amelia / Hololive

Above, we examined VTubers' popularity with audiences. But why is VTube a popular choice for entertainers? Once again, there are a few points to consider.

Like their fans, VTubers love anime aesthetics, and using them as part of their entertainment programs might thus be appealing to them.

Lots of VTubers opt for exaggerated anime-like mannerisms. Fans might find this kind of behavior cute, but it would seem a bit strange if a real person on camera acted like an anime character.

The anonymity and safety to explore weird content without backlash are other factors to take into account.

Of course, a VTuber might choose to reveal their face at any point, but others might choose to keep their avatar completely separate from their personal life.

This means they can avoid the backlash and hate comments entertainers often have to deal with, or at least have an extra layer of protection.

In some cases, working through a VTube avatar might also be a way to keep two different streaming gigs completely separate.

Discover more of our insights and the latest anime news by following us on Twitter @epicstreamanime.

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