Brand VTubers: You can say they can be a hit or miss—and the community still views them with mixed feelings.
Some would say brands that venture into VTubing are progressing and are experimenting with new consumer grounds to expand their brand experience. And some would say that brands that go into VTubing are ‘sellouts’, and only cash in on the growing industry.
Regardless of what the community thinks, one cannot deny the continuing rise of brand VTubers, and looking at what strategies they bring into the table.
Some time ago, I wrote a feature article detailing some of the examples of brand VTubers in Japan and overseas—and even up till now, people still use the article (and its feature image) as a way to show the diversity of brand VTubers. To be honest, I am still fascinated with the number of brand VTubers that exist.
This got me thinking: After all this time, who are still doing it, what are they up to, and where are these brand VTubers now?
So without further ado, here is the updated version of the overview of the Brand VTubing scene.
Rohto Pharmaceutical (Nebasei Cocoro)
Rohto Pharmaceutical is one of the largest FMCG brands in Japan, and is also one of the most well-known pharmaceutical brands in the country. The company, which was first founded in 1949, has a global presence in North America, Europe and the rest of Asia as well.
- The company debuted its brand VTuber Nebasei Cocoro on June 10, 2018; with her lore being described as “a 25-year-old Virtual YouTuber employee exploring skin care with Rohto”.
- As one of the most popular Japanese brand VTubers, her online content is a mix of typical VTuber content (i.e. gameplay streaming, just chatting streams) as well as creating videos promoting Rohto’s products, including tips for UV protection, using skincare products, among others.
- Most recently, she released her original song titled Kiratto Eyes, as well as releasing covers of Ado’s New Genesis and MAISONdes’ Tokyo Shandy Rendezvous.
Suntory (Suntory Nomu)
One of the oldest alcoholic beverage companies in Japan, Suntory was founded in 1899 and has expanded into a multinational beverage company. Aside from its popular alcoholic drinks, the company has also expanded into making soft drinks, green tea, and mineral water.
- Its brand VTuber Suntory Nomu debuted on August 17, 2018. Her details and lore reflect Suntory’s branding. For instance, her birth year is in 1899–the same year the company was founded. In addition, her personality attributes of being “pure, clear and natural” highly reflect Suntory’s standing as a beverage brand.
- Nomu was appointed as Suntory’s esports ambassador in 2019, and has been used by Suntory across multiple physical and digital campaigns.
- While she rarely streams live, especially following her 2021 hiatus, she sometimes appears as a guest on several VTuber events, like in December 2022 alongside Hololive’s Takane Lui and Aki Rosenthal, as well as releasing original music and song covers. Her debut song is titled Life is Tasty.
MSI Japan (Mei Mihoshi)
MSI, short for Micro-Star International, is a Taiwan-based IT technology corporation focused on computer hardware, as well as gaming computers and laptops. It has a global presence, including in Japan.
- As part of strengthening its brand presence in the country, MSI Japan debuted Mei Mihoshi on December 4, 2021. She is described as “an employee of MSI Japan’s E-Sports Promotion Committee’. Her 3D model has been designed by Studio Posse, who worked on the games Alice Gear Aegis and Compass Live Arena.
- She regularly streams on YouTube and is also active on Twitter. Her content, aside from gameplay, also regularly promotes MSI’s gaming laptops and computers and even hosts livestreams with VTuber guests to encourage viewers to test out their products. Just recently, MSI has invited Kanae and Hoshikawa Sara in a stream to promote MSI’s latest gaming notebook computer.
Sanrio (Natsume Renge)
The popular entertainment company Sanrio was founded in 1962 as the Yamanashi Silk Company before changing to the current name in 1973. It is home to the popular Hello Kitty franchise, and has toys shipped globally to North America, Europe, and Asia.
- As part of enhancing its virtual marketing department, Sanrio introduced Natsume Renge on October 15, 2021; and actually serves as an actual employee within Sanrio, and not just an auditioned talent.
- While he doesn’t stream regularly on his official YouTube channel, he has recently done streams on Sanrio's official channel. Most of the time, he is active on Twitter, promoting Sanrio-related updates, including new merchandise, events, and campaigns.
Hitachi (Shirokaden Hakushaku)
One of the biggest multinational conglomerates in Japan, Hitachi was founded in 1910 and holds several companies in multiple industries, such as automotive, construction, defense systems, electronic systems, telecommunications, power systems, Internet of Things (IoT), among others.
- The company’s home appliance arm debuted a VTuber named Shirokaden Hakushaku on April 17, 2019. The new VTuber aimed at being a companion to the boy group ARASHI, which Hitachi has tapped for campaigns since 2010.
- Aside from doing video vlogs and even ASMR content, Hakushaku also did corporate-related videos, including quizzes regarding Hitachi’s home appliance lineup.
- While the company detailed in 2019 that they have plans to extend the VTuber’s content to company office visits and singing episodes, the VTuber’s activities abruptly stopped in April 2021, with the last video saying he will be going on hiatus. The VTuber hasn’t returned ever since.
miHoYo (Lumi N0va and Mi Youji)
One of the most popular Chinese video game developers globally, miHoYo is home to popular game titles Genshin Impact, Honkai: Star Rail, Zenless Zone Zero, and Tears of Themis.
- Mi Youji (米游姬) was first announced as a brand mascot of miHoYo in China in 2020 before debuting as a VTuber in April 2021. She is actively streaming on Bilibili and posts regularly on Weibo, mostly about new community events for miHoYo.
- Meanwhile, Lumi N0va is mostly categorized as a virtual actress, debuting in May 2020. She is launched as part of miHoYo’s N0va Desktop app. The company hinted back in October 2020 in an interview with DualShockers that Lumi may appear on Genshin Impact in the near future, but so far, no updates have been made. Her latest update was in January this year on Twitter.
Netflix (Kurono N-ko Mei)
Netflix is the top streaming service globally, with around 232.5 million paid subscribers worldwide as of the first quarter of 2023, according to Statista.
- The popular streaming platform debuted its VTuber Kurono N-ko Mei, aptly known as N-ko, debuted on April 27, 2021. In its press release, Netflix stated that N-ko will be hosting its own show called The N-ko Show, in which she will discuss anime recommendations on the official Netflix Anime YouTube channel.
- Unlike other brand VTubers in this list, N-ko has mostly done feature-length videos and short-form content–unlike the usual streaming content. Aside from anime recommendations, her show also includes interviewing Netflix employees and giving a tour of their headquarters in Los Gatos, California.
- Her last episode of The N-ko Show was made on February 23, 2022 when she demonstrated features of popular anime and manga social cataloging site MyAnimeList. Meanwhile, her last appearance was on March 19, 2022 when she appeared in a livestream event hosted by Nebasei Cocoro.
- As she has no separate social media accounts of her own, there has been no update on her whereabouts, or what Netflix has plans for in the near future.
What started out as a for-profit video upload service in 2006, Crunchyroll has since expanded into one of the largest anime-centric video streaming services outside of Japan.
- Crunchyroll-Hime has long been the platform’s brand mascot ever since in 2013, thanks to an online fanart competition held by Crunchyroll, Funimation, Aniplex of America, and NIS America in 2013.
- But did you know that prior to her Live2D self, Hime had already appeared as a 3D VTuber? She first appeared in a Kizuna Ai video on November 17, 2019 where the two played an anime gesture game. She also appeared in 3D form in various events up until February 2021.
- Crunchyroll-Hime is one of the most popular brand VTubers outside of Japan, and regularly streams on her YouTube channel, as well as hosting collaborations with other VTubers such as with Nijisanji, as well as with voice actors and actresses. Hime then debuted as a Live2D VTuber on October 8, 2021.
SEGA (“Sonic The Hedgehog” Cast, “Phantasy Star Online 2” Ambassador)
Founded in 1960, the Japanese multinational game company SEGA has also an international presence in North America and Europe. According to estimates, the company is valued at US$3.455b as of April 21, 2023.
- The popular game franchise Sonic the Hedgehog has its characters Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and even Amy Rose have their own Live2D models. Tails is the one primarily doing most of the work with its own show TailsTube, the most recent episode airing a month ago.
- Meanwhile, the company’s action role-playing game Phantasy Star Online 2 appointed Popona, the VTuber affiliated with their own Idola Project, as its newest brand ambassador. The ambassadorship announcement was made February 1. She remains active in streaming PSO2 most of the time, with her streaming done regularly on YouTube.
- Agency AKA Virtual has a hand in the production of Popona, as well as Usaki Rin, who was first introduced in a Sega New livestream.
Airasia (Project Kavvaii)
The airline company airasia, founded in 1993, has since expanded into a lifestyle brand as highlighted in their change to Capital A. Some of their services now include ride-hailing, food delivery, super-apps, online grocer, among other things.
- airasia launched Project Kavvaii, its own VTuber project in March 2021, and introduced its first talent Aozora Kurumi in May 2021. It then introduced its Lunetide generation, which included talents Airi Gwynevere and Mikazuki Mai in April 2022.
- Kurumi then graduated in August 2022, citing that her workload as an agency VTuber was too much for her. Despite being already without a talent behind, Kurumi remains a part of Project Kavvaii’s branding and within the airasia ecosystem, as shown in their official agency page.
- Recently, the Lunetide generation announced a tie-up with airasia’s restaurant brand Santan, and as of this writing is celebrating their one-year anniversary.
Kellogg’s (Tony The Tiger)
Founded in 1906, the American multinational food company Kellogg’s has a wide portfolio of food brands including Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, Pringles, Eggo, and Cheez-It.
- Its cereal brand Frosted Flakes first adopted the brand mascot Tony the Tiger in 1952, who has been voiced by several voice actors such as Thurl Ravenscroft and Tex Brashear.
- In August 2022, Kellogg’s announced that it has worked exclusively with Twitch to debut Tony the Tiger as a VTuber. According to them, said endeavor aims at tapping into the platform’s growing community.
- Following the announcement, several marketing trade publications have hyped the endeavor including The Drum, Little Black Book, and Marketing Dive.
- However, Tony The Tiger only appeared once–during his debut–and never appeared again. So much for all the hype.
HyperX (Himura Kuraudo)
HyperX was previously the gaming division of Kingston Technology before Hewlett-Packard (HP) acquired it in June 2021, which only included its computer peripherals branded as HyperX.
- The company first teased its VTuber Himura Kuraudo on February 2 this year before it was officially announced across newswires days later.
- Kuraudo regularly streams on HyperX’s Twitch channel, though she doesn’t have her own social media channels, as the VTuber’s schedules are posted on HyperX’s official Twitter channel.
- Aside from frequent gameplays and collaborations, Kuraudo also does HyperX-centric streams where she promotes the brand’s products as well as hosting giveaways.
Omega Strikers (Sonii)
Omega Strikers is a newly-released action sport video game by Odyssey Interactive.
- It teased a VTuber model named Sonii on October 16, 2022, who they said will work with the company. Iron Vertex rigged the said model.
- We thought that Sonii didn’t have any socials until we discovered her Twitter and TikTok accounts, though the last posts have been made from February to March this year. More specifically, the TikTok account shifted from TikTok skits using the VTuber model to just posting a meme of US President AIs ‘playing’ Omega Strikers to some comic strips.
- She has recently appeared in a promotional video for Omega Strikers, detailing features on the game such as maps and new updates.
Opera GX (GX Aura)
Opera GX is the gamer-centric browser of Norwegian multinational company Opera. Said browser was first released in 2019, several years after the company’s first browser was released in 1995.
- The official Twitter account opened auditions for its brand VTuber GX Aura on April 5 this year. Initially, the company came under fire for introducing an age bracket for their applicants. They have since deleted such prompts, and now have received over 4,500 applicants.
- So far, the official Twitter account for the VTuber regularly retweets fan art of GX Aura.
Play Asia (Obake PAM and Aka Mana)
Play-Asia is a Hong Kong-based online retailer focused on entertainment products, more specifically on gaming items.
- It debuted its now popular and self-proclaimed CEO Obake PAM on February 20, 2021. This was then followed by PAM’s secretary Aka Mana on October 18, 2021.
- Both are regular streamers on YouTube and Twitch, and have been staple in recent VTuber online events.
Tom's Racing Japan (Todoraki Rin, Sachi, and Non)
TOM'S Racing is the automobile tuning and parts manufacturer for Toyota and Lexus. Founded in 1974, the manufacturer is heavily involved in formula racing events such as Super GT, Super Formula and Super Formula Lights.
- In November 2022, Tom's Racing Japan and Mobcast Games have collaborated to open auditions for its VTuber project called MT Project, which sought the use of VTuber to raise more awareness of racing events in Japan.
- On April 15, the project announced the debut of two VTubers namely Todoraki Rin, Todoraki Sachi, and Todoraki Non. Together, the talents behind it are racing enthusiasts and help promote the industry.
The Lesser-Known and Forgotten Brand VTubers
- The Japanese solar energy company Looop had two VTubers named Hinata Hino and Mahiru Shirayume. However, as of March 31, 2022 both of the VTubers are now inactive. The company used these VTubers to promote solar energy in a more engaging way.
- Japanese entertainment conglomerate Yoshimoto Kogyo debuted its VTuber Azumi Muu in January this year. She still regularly does gaming streams on her YouTube channel.
- Did you know that Akihabara–yes, the popular shopping hub in Japan, had its own VTuber named Akitsu Mitsuba? Sadly, only images of her remain online, with her Twitter account deleted. However, the YouTube channel remains up, although with no videos.
- Game developer SNK Corporation launched a VTuber modeled after one of its characters Asamiya Athena in the game Psycho Soldier as part of its marketing effort for The King of Fighters in 2018. Sadly, her activities were short-lived, though the videos remain up on her YouTube channel.
- The Anime Corner community and news website had a VTuber named Tsukimi Lune, who first debuted on April 24, 2021. The first talent behind Lune graduated in April 2022, before reappearing again with a new talent under the spin-off agency Project Solaria in August 2022. However, Lune was terminated under Solaria in January this year. Anime Corner no longer uses the Tsukimi Lune branding, as evident in their website and social media posts. All of her socials have been deleted as well.
Disclaimer: The author is a regular news and features contributor at Anime Corner, where he previously wrote an overview article of brand VTubers. Moreover, this list is a partial one, as not all brands can be listed here due to information limitations.
And there you have it: your updated rundown of brand VTubers both in Japan and overseas. What do you think about them? Did we miss some of them? If so, let us know and we will update this!