Behind The Model: Nemurenai Kai’s Reserved Approach to VTubing

Nemurenai Kai has never taken VTubing too seriously. That's part of his charm and success.

Nemurenai Kai could be classified as an older VTuber in the space.

Having started smack bang at the start of 2020, just as the pandemic was entering the world’s consciousness, he did get to see VTubing before its big blow-up in the West.

Kai didn’t really have a content creation background. He had dabbled in some web comic communities, but never anything extensive. So opting to jump right into streaming and VTubing as a hobby on the side of his full-time work was daunting, but there’s nothing wrong with trying.

“My whole VTubing existence stemmed from this little thought of ‘I wonder if I could do that,’” he said.

“[Utaittemita] was always kind of like something I took an interest in. I'm not that good at singing, I'm not good at dancing, but just giving it a shot and not being bashful about it seemed pretty interesting.

“I knew of the existence of VTubers, like I knew of Kizuna AI, the forefathers and all that. But 3D was always kind of outside of the realm of my knowledge. So when this little company called NIJISANJI popped up with all these 2D VTubers, I'm like ‘well, that actually looks like something I could try.’”

So, true to his mission of just trying something, Kai took up a 40-day license for Live2D Cubism and got to work.

His original model was actually a woman in a tracksuit, an OC of his that had been floating around in his mind for some time. It was made extra tantalizing by a simple fact: “anime girls attract attention.”

However, he scrapped the design after not being convinced he could put on the right voice. So instead, he went to the place where all great ideas start—a bathroom.

“I stood up, went to the bathroom and took a selfie. That was literally what inspired my current design. I have the bleached bangs and everything. These aren’t clothes that I do own, but they're clothes I would like to wear.

“I drew the art; I did the rigging. I had to learn everything from scratch within those 40 days.”

VTubing has never, and likely will never be, Kai’s dream gig. It was just something to pass the time over those lockdown years, and he was happy to just make it to his first anniversary in January 2021.

Three years on, it’s still kicking on strong for him. As the rest of the scene fleets in and out—including people close to him like fellow GHK Radio host Project Harune—there’s never been an interest in growing it rapidly. He likes to call it “passive growth.”

While being able to have the partner numbers and big paychecks would be a nicety, he’s well cognizant of the fact he will not get there—at least as he currently tracks.

“Seeing the effort that full time content creators put in like they invest all their time, invest all their efforts, every waking moment is about how to bring more impact to their streams,” he said.

“I can't afford that time and effort. I'm scared to make really heavy investments. I'm just doing what I want to do. I'm just enjoying myself.

“It's kind of like playing video games in your room, if you have the door open and you're having fun, somebody walking by sees you having fun, they might come in to have fun with you. That's just kind of how I treat it. I don't want to be a slave for content.

“This is how I de-stress. Just being able to do the things I like, play video games, draw. I'll talk about whatever interests me, and if I'm lucky enough that somebody shares those interests and happen to walk by my open door, that's just kind of how it is.”

Kai’s more reserved approach to VTubing and content creation pales in comparison to the glut of VTubers debuting every day with flashy models and massive festivities.

However, having been in the space for more than three years, he’s seen the stars burn bright and then out, especially as the real world has returned to normal.

“Because I feel like a lot of people saw this brand new shiny thing called VTubing and got super excited about it, they dived in without realizing being a VTuber is just being a content creator with a new coat of paint.

“They just think I want to be an anime person and then they think ‘oh, I don't really like streaming… oh, it's actually I'm not suddenly going to be famous just because I'm a pretty anime face.’

“They overemphasize the debuts. I feel like everybody needs the $10,000 model and then the $6,000 music video and then like the $3,000 assets and the transitions. A lot of people see the number of ‘100 people came to my party.’ That doesn't mean 100 people is going to stick around in your living room after the fact.”

But with his measured approach to VTubing, Kai believes there’s nothing stopping him from doing this for years ahead. As long as he has fun leaving his bedroom door open for people to watch his antics, he’ll keep it going.

“There is a more elderly gentleman on Twitch who is in his later years and still just enjoys streaming himself, doing woodworking,” he explained. “If I could still have fun, like that man is having fun in my later years, then why shouldn't I?

“If I outlast everyone, instead of being the brightest burning VTuber, I'll just be the longest burning VTuber. If I can continue maintaining people’s interest, if they could be interested in the things I do into my thirties, forties, fifties, why not, right?

“Already there's like a bit of a fan nickname amongst like a portion of the English VTuber community where they all call me dad. Well, I'm just going to keep going until they start calling me granddad, I guess.”

Learn more about Nemurenai Kai's full story in his Behind The Model episode.