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January 11, 2021 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Calliope Mori was supposed to be the rapper in Hololive EN, but her throne got taken by Amelia Watson with her version of Dr. Seuss' Fox in Socks: Pop on Rocks. (Taken from Amelia's Japanese snacks stream, edited and set to music by Holobass Bonus: Calliope Mori's cover)
posted by MartinWisse (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I’m sorry, but what is this? I just googled Hololive EN, and I still don’t understand what I’m looking at. Can you give some background? Thanks!
posted by MythMaker at 11:33 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

Hololive is a Japanese idol company, except instead of promoting flesh-and-blood idols, their talents are vtubers, characters who are voiced and portrayed by real-life people whose actions and personalities inform those characters (though those real-life people essentially are the characters they're playing, or maybe the other way around, as far as it's concerned; there isn't any "recasting" of characters or anything like that. Kizuna Ai tried something like that. It didn't really work.)

Basically think Gorillaz. Except since there's an actual real person behind each character, maybe more real than Gorillaz? I don't know.

Anyway, virtual idols on YouTube - "vtubers" - are pretty varied. Some focus on the usual Japanese idol singing, holding live broadcast concerts (often not archived, since they sing covers of songs, which is iffy as far as rights). Others play video games live, or just chat. Most do some combination of the three.

And of course, during all of these, viewers can comment, or donate money via YouTube's Superchat system.

Anyway, somewhere between Shirakami Fubuki's shitpostesque "covers", Inugami Korone's charming Doom playthrough, and Kiryu Coco being unapologetically Kiryu-Coco-brand crass, Hololive vtubers recently went through a surge in popularity among non-Japanese viewers, so much so that in addition to an already existing Indonesian branch, Hololive decided to open an English branch, as well. Mori Calliope is one of the first generation English branch members - a grim reaper who started out strong, debuting with three different rap songs she'd written herself. Amelia Watson is another member, who has been charitably described as a perverted gremlin (this is not largely considered a criticism).
posted by KChasm at 11:56 AM on January 11 [6 favorites]

Hololive is a group of vtubers: youtubers, but instead of beardy men screaming at video games, they're anime characters screaming at videogames. More seriously, a vtuber is somewhere inbetween a real life idol and a scripted anime character, with the actual streamer using motion capture software to translate their expressions and body language to a 2D rig in real time. Though the streamer plays a character, that character is not scripted and can be close, very close to their actual 'real life' personality.

For the most part, the people behind the vtubers are supposed to be anonymous, though not every vtuber holds themselves to that.

Content wise, vtubers do largely the same thing as regular Youtubers: video game playthroughs, collaborations with others, just shooting the breeze etc. But they also do more idol-esque things like karaoke streams, doing actual concert live streams and virtual handshake sessions and the like.

Hololive got popular because their idols are not very idol like, but are incredibly gay and funny. Hololive EN is the Englishg language branch of Hololive, which got its start in Japan, with some 5-7 generations of idols active and which also now has two generations of Indonesian idols, in Hololive ID. The gimmick for the Hololive EN generation was HoloMyth: Calliope Mori is the grim reaper, Amelia Watson is a Sherlockian detective/time traveller and there's also a 9000 year old shark, a phoenix/chicken and basically Chtulu.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:04 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]

Points of note:

Hololive idols seem to have originally confined themselves to the "pure" image stereotypically kept by real-life Japanese idols, but eventually it turned out that idols were more popular when they acted like the real people they were (or, you know, the facet of the real people that they showed off to their audiences). The extent to which the idols have gone all out vary from idol to idol (they all seem to have their own boundaries), but the extremes probably include Haato Akai (aka Haachama) (who at one point critiqued porn art of herself), Natsuiro Matsuri (sex maniac), and Kiryu Coco (who is Kiryu Coco), and Houshou Marine (sex maniac). I'd also mention that it's not like these extremes are all-debauchery-all-the-time, and also it's usually just the most salacious, extreme, or obviously funny or entertaining material that gets translated out of Japanese.. but it's hard to mention that without sounding like I'm trying to hastily backtrack in some "I read it for the articles" way.

A good deal of English-speaking popularity can probably be attributed to Coco, who frequently switches between Japanese and English and who has an accent that is often estimated by viewers from being from the American south. She debuting in December 2019, and by August of the following year had become the highest Superchat earner on record. Note that of the top ten earners on the linked list, half are from Hololive (Coco, Uruha Rushia, Minato Aqua, Usada Pekora, and Houshou Marine).

Another good source of western popularity is undoubtedly YouTube's recommendation algorithm - you only need to click on one or two Hololive clips before your entire recommendations becomes inundated, and you "fall through the rabbit hole," so to speak.

Hololive EN's breakout star is undoubtedly Gawr Gura, who hardly debuted before outranking her peers in subscriber count, the first Hololiver to break a million. Not among Hololive EN - among all of Hololive.
posted by KChasm at 12:22 PM on January 11

Also, can I mention how disorienting it is to see a Hololive-related post on MetaFilter?

Metafilter Me is not Twitter me is not Reddit me is not Tumblr me - different modes of assumed knowledge, acceptable behavior, etc. - so this whole post was a bit like that passage in Hitchhiker's Guide about accidentally going from fourth to first and having the engine leap out of your hood.
posted by KChasm at 12:41 PM on January 11

It was amazing to me that Hololive has never been mentioned before here on Metafilter, when it basically seemed to consume the entire internet.

I'd been struggling with writing an introductionary post for a while now but Hololive is so vast and complex that it would be a monstrous undertaking to do it justice. At least Amelia's Pop on Rocks video is entertaining on its own, hence this post.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:57 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]

I'm way too old to understand what the fuck is going on here (see the post slightly down the page) but I do like the tongue twisters in that there Pop on Rocks moving picture!
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:31 PM on January 11

It was amazing to me that Hololive has never been mentioned before here on Metafilter, when it basically seemed to consume the entire internet.

Uh, citation needed. Stuff you're interested has a way of seeming this way because of algorithms, but like, I am Extremely Online and have never heard of it before this post. It's not impossible, of course, that I somehow missed it, but I think it's more likely that the internet just looks different from different algorithmic vantage points (e.g., open a new incognito Chrome window and hop over to youtube and I bet it will look really weird compared to what you're used to seeing).
posted by axiom at 4:00 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]

I think one of the things that's so interesting about the internet is how these different subcultures and things appear to be everywhere if you're inside the bubble. I've never heard of any of the parts of this - Superchat - any of it. It seems like it's just some kind of livestreaming but using an anime themed Memoji. What's the appeal using the avatar, rather than just seeing their face?
posted by MythMaker at 4:02 PM on January 11

Oh yeah, you can't just throw people down the rabbit hole without a map or a compass.

I think people have mostly covered the basics of "what the hell is a vtuber," though there are plenty of avenues for further study if you so desire—other companies in the same space like Nijisanji; Kizuna AI, one of the first (and biggest) vtubers, and also a strange landmark case in how the talent and their characters can be separated (or not, which raises some intriguing labour implications); international expansions to Indonesia and China, the latter of which has encountered significant political headwinds for Hololive; and so on and so forth.

So instead, uh, have some videos.
Inugami Korone, the internet's favourite anime dog girl, playing Doom 2016 for the first time
Shirakami Fubuki posts a Twitter poll asking what she should do for her next stream; it goes badly for her
Holostars, Hololive's group of male vtubers, sing "Snow Halation" by female idol group μ's
The ballad of Usada Pekora and Moona Hoshinova, two loners who find each other in Minecraft
and finally, Sakura Miko introduces you to the rabbit hole

(bonus: Pekora hits a million subscribers on YouTube, and finally tells her mom what her job is live on stream)

Uh, citation needed. Stuff you're interested has a way of seeming this way because of algorithms, but like, I am Extremely Online and have never heard of it before this post.

This is 100% true. It's weird once you're in the subculture because it does sort of feel like it's everywhere—it has several generations' worth of injokes and jargon, practices around what's okay for discussion (let's ship two vtubers because their interactions are adorable) and what's not okay (any talk of the real-life identities of the talent), memes EVERYWHERE. But it's also still very much a subculture, and you don't have to wander far outside it to realize that no one else has any clue what you're talking about.

What's the appeal using the avatar, rather than just seeing their face?

There are a few, some of which are less savoury than others. One genuine benefit is that it's a way for someone to stream without revealing their face, something that can be really appealing for any number of reasons. That might be one reason why a lot of women seem to do it, even when not affiliated with a company; it lets them stream without having to put their real identity out there, which reduces the chances for targeted harassment (though unfortunately doesn't completely eliminate it). Some people like to argue that using the avatar lets you express certain facets of your personality you might otherwise want to hide, or play characters you wouldn't get to in real life (many, though not all, vtubers have some kind of elaborate backstory/theme to them, ex. "I'm a teenage girl who died and was reborn as a zombie, only to discover that my childhood home is now a ramen shop, and so I decided to become a vtuber idol?"). Less savoury reasons include the fact that cute, attractive anime girls are big sellers, and get to avoid some of the "side effects" of being a normal human, like not constantly being camera-ready, or aging, or any of the other things that might otherwise impact your career if you streamed using your real face.
posted by chrominance at 4:26 PM on January 11

Oh, I'll add one more thing: there are weird parallels to another brief internet sensation, the rise of Bon Appetit's YouTube channel. For example, vtubers associated with the same company will often "collab" with each other (that is, make appearances on each other's streams), and often a lot of the fun is having the various personalities bounce off one another in much the same way people were able to in the Bon Appetit test kitchen before the whole "we don't like to pay people of colour their fair share" scandal imploded the whole thing.
posted by chrominance at 4:29 PM on January 11

A better version of fox in socks: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMJvW6ABU/
posted by nushustu at 5:13 PM on January 11

Oh we can't discuss someone rapping Fox in Socks without including Wes Tank!
posted by kitarra at 6:45 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]

Hololive stuff has been regularly appearing in the second, third, etc. pages of /r/all on reddit for months now
posted by reductiondesign at 7:49 PM on January 11

What's the appeal using the avatar, rather than just seeing their face?

A certain sense of anonymity, similar to why people use pseudonyms instead of their real names on here?

As you know Bob, idol culture in Japan especially can be incredibly toxic, with 'fans' feeling entitled to the private lives of their idols and idols being bound in hideous no romance allowed contracts. Not to mention multiple cases of idols being stalked and blamed for it.

Having a separate personage as a barrier between you and your audience means you can have some semblance of privacy in real life. It's not a 100% fool proof of course. One of the sadder stories in Hololive is that of 5th gen Mano Aloe, who got doxxed before her official debut and ultimately had to retire because of it.

Also, as with all masks, having that separate personage to play with means it's easier to let loose and be yourself.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:38 AM on January 12

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