By Diego Hernandez / November 18th, 2020
It’s time for something completely different, ladies and gentlemen: please welcome domoarigathanks. To clarify, over the past year with Operation Rainfall, I made a point to associate all of my content with visual novels. Furthermore, I go as far as interviewing many passionate individuals who are hard at work on their own stories. Today, my guest is from a different area. A fellow interviewer who talks to the rising stars of the entertainment industry: Virtual YouTubers. You may recognize the Hololives and Nijisanjis of the world, but what if I were to inform you of the stars on this side of the globe? Several beautiful men and women closer to our time zone entertaining the masses on a day-by-day basis. Follow my descent to the rabbit hole; I know this is something I need to cover. My guest is the best expert I know on the subject, enjoy!
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, a lot of people know you but our readers may not. So for the latter, how would you introduce yourself and what you do?
It’s your boy Domo here, back at it again with some bullshit. VTuber enthusiast extraordinaire, top tier simp, and interviewer guy. I suppose I’m known for my constant online banter with VTubers on Twitter and also covering the English VTubing community with interviews I host over on Twitch.
Virtual YouTubers have been around for way longer than we think. So many wonderful personalities have come and gone, whether as part of a corporation or independent. How did you enter the rabbit hole and decide that this is something you want to delve into, both recreationally and later professionally?
Initially, I was one of those people who fell into the Holopit. You watch one Hololive video, get a few similar recommendations on YouTube and the rest is history. I believe the first video I ever watched was Kiryu Coco’s Hololive English application video actually. I saw the post float on my timeline on Twitter and was super confused when I saw an anime girl talking that wasn’t actually in an anime. It took me a while to discover who the orange dragon girl was, but once I found out I was hooked. From there I was infected, slowly introducing myself to the entire Hololive cast, moving on to Nijisanji, then over to international indie VTubers and eventually down to the English VTuber scene.
Frankly, I didn’t ever really know this interview thing would become as big as it has, it was never my intention. I just thought it would be a fun bit for myself and my couple thousand followers on Twitter at the time, it was never my intention to become an “internet persona.” I think it wasn’t until 5 or 6 interviews in when I was picking up traction within the scene and being recognized by bigger faces, slowly making a name for myself, incidentally. I realized I had something bigger than what I originally imagined it to be, and although I still don’t really know which direction I want to go with this whole thing, I know there’s a lot of potential for growth here, speaking on both myself and the community as a whole.
My next vtuber guest is @Vtuber_Moe! She's one of the first vtubers to pave the way for the western scene and continues to do just that. Fun fact, she's a heavy BL enthusiast. We go live this Saturday @ 6PM PST!https://t.co/9BddJFRstj pic.twitter.com/E0p0npdY04
— domo. (@domoarigathanks) November 12, 2020
We all have the friends who start by either watching a certain rabbit with a diagonal laugh, or a very horny pirate among many others. However, prior to Japan taking their efforts overseas, there wasn’t much attention to the rising stars out West. Furthermore, only a handful really make their presence known. So how exactly did you end up noticing and covering the talent that’s closer to home?
The very first interview I picked up was actually on a whim. I put up a post telling people to recommend their favourite EN VTubers that would be cool with doing an interview and, at the time, I was completely oblivious that there was even an English VTuber community at all. Someone recommended me Kana Kamiko, a North American fox themed VTuber, and without thinking too hard I just shot her the cold Twitter DM assuming she’d turn me down. Turns out she was totally on board, which was a surprise to me. I wasn’t expecting someone with a fairly large 30,000 subscriber count to agree to an interview with a guy with 2,000 followers on Twitter, and no actual content to show for it.
So I guess to answer the original question, it has always been my followers that have been putting me on to some of these names and now that I’m a little more versed in the scene, I kind of make the call myself now. At its core, “Domo” has always been pretty community driven, and I’m constantly lurking streams and online interactions to find some interesting personalities, regardless if I choose to interview them or not.
On the subject of the many wonderful international virtual streamers, let’s take a moment to reflect. The first half of 2020 will go down as the most miserable time for mental health in history. However, with everyone staying home, a large number of people took it upon themselves to create their personas with hopes to make things better. As such, we have content, whether streams, struggle tweets and out-of-context clips, to make us laugh more than ever before. You know the many faces that debuted this year. So what’s your take on the year overall for the people you’re covering?
I think there’s a lot of very unique characters that are bringing something new to the table, and that’s what interests me the most. Beautiful singing voices, unique character models and themes, high skilled gameplay, warm and cozy personalities. I think the beautiful thing with VTubers is that being behind an avatar really enables the people behind them to be themselves, or to be more of a character that they’re trying to achieve. That’s not something you may be comfortable with if you’re streaming with a face camera I suppose. On the other hand, I think there’s that fear with anything that booms as big as the VTuber explosion is that the scene might get saturated, and I think that’s fair for people to think. In terms of exposure, VTubing is relatively new for people in the west.
— domo. (@domoarigathanks) November 14, 2020
We can probably spend the entire day talking about the people you cover. However, you’re the star of this piece. In addition to this, you also have quite the audience yourself. Whether it’s your back and forth banters with Artemis and others, lurking in the replies of those who are blissfully unaware of you, or even rallying your troops to recognize real talent, your fans are here for it. Tell me, what it’s been like to gain that popularity, and has it been a humbling experience?
Honestly, everything is still settling in for me, I still don’t really consider myself highly recognized but the community tells me otherwise. First and foremost, it is all very flattering. People get excited (or absolutely terrified) when I give them a follow or even share a small interaction with them, and I find those moments really funny. I also tend to lurk streams a lot, especially smaller VTubers just to see how they are communicating with their audience. A simple comment in their stream takes them by surprise, a lot of them freak out when they see my name pop up and that whole dynamic is still something I’m not used to honestly. It’s nice to see that kind of reaction, I think being recognized by a “big” figure gives some level of acknowledgement and lets them know they are doing something great.
As for the whole experience itself, of course it is very humbling, to say the least, but it’s also been quite challenging. Moments like those I just stated can easily get to your head, so I try to not to absorb myself in those kinds of interactions to not further inflate my already massive ego. The only thing with that is, I kind of built my brand on being the big headed VTuber bully, which is actually very different from how I am off persona, and people who follow my alternative Domo Twitter account know this well. Luckily, I have a lot of great friends, both online and in real life, to keep me in check and help me stay grounded throughout all this growth. Humility aside, I would say, overall, it has been an eye opening experience on what it means to be a figure in a niche community.
Earlier in the questions, I talked about how the year’s been a mess to all of us when it comes to mental health. I want to go back and talk about it, because it’s largely important for the scene we’re covering. In simple terms, being a virtual streamer is hardly a walk in the park. There’s as much going into it financially as there is emotionally. While we try to shine a light on as many vibrant personalities as we can, we can’t guarantee success. Throughout your interviews, what are some of the hardest hitting facts you’ve learned and how has it changed your perspective from when you first watched them?
I would say the first thing that comes to mind is that people sometimes forget that there are really people behind these avatars, too. It seems obvious, but as someone who started coming from watching Hololive girls, there’s almost this disconnect between the streamer and the audience. I think the main thing here being they are behind an anime avatar the whole time. We so strongly associate anime characters with certain tropes and personas, we almost build a vision of the person behind the character for ourselves, but in reality they are just an average person no less than the viewers.
I’ve seen a lot of spectators outside the VTuber community giving some fairly harsh and judgmental opinions on the looks of the avatar, the voice, their level of personal entertainment and so on, but I think that human disconnect makes us easily forget there is a real person behind these avatars.
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