Kite Hasegawa Craved Normalcy. VTubing Was The Key To It.

Kite Hasegawa quit the internet as he chased a normal life. VTubing brought him back in the fold, and he's now here to stay.

The first words Kite Hasegawa spoke when I interviewed him were along the lines of a dick joke.

That’s quite the introduction in isolation, but it’s pretty much par for the course for the joker of Invicta, who is treating VTubing as a chance to let his hair down. Before becoming a virtual star, he had to be quite prim and proper.

“I used to be somewhat within the same industry, being a ‘public figure’, but it was very different,” he explained. “I had to be very formal, hold a very respectable image, which is crazy [to think about now].

“It’s just you can’t picture me doing the whole corporate formal, being clean and seiso. I had to be very brand friendly before.”

Now the muscled dragon boy is anything but. However, is that necessarily a bad thing? After years of having to be self-conscious about every small thing, what’s the problem with indulging in a bit of fun? Or, more seriously, engaging with sides of his personality he didn’t knew existed?

Kite’s carefree attitude has allowed him to flourish in the virtual world alongside his group mates. It took a while to work towards, but now he’s starting to embrace it truly.

Kite Hasegawa was ready to give up his online life, then VTubing came along.

A second run at stardom

Kite Hasegawa looks back on his past life with mixed emotions.

He worked in broadcasting, shining the spotlight on others. He was out there himself, building storylines and narratives as he grinded his way through the industry. 

That life, though, did bring vapid attention and plenty of gazing eyes. But they weren’t there for him as a person. In many ways it was dehumanizing, but he was desensitized to it.

“That was my life before the pandemic. It was a whole life of being on social media constantly, needing to put up an image. I’m a very quiet and introverted guy, so eventually that got tiring for me and the pandemic really had me reflect on life.”

It left him wanting to just blow it all up. Scrub his face from the internet. Shelter from the eyeballs and try to live a quieter life. And when COVID gave him some time to reflect, that was what he was going to action out.

But his “craving for normalcy” quickly encountered a speed bump when VTubing came around. He saw cosplayer Mizuno Aki dive into the virtual world, and he saw it as a chance to wean himself offline. He could start moving towards that normal life, while keeping “some level of attachment” to the stardom he had become accustomed to.

“I just went into VTubing because I liked the idea of still being on camera without actually needing to present my IRL image anymore. I can have the avatar and have fun with it. 

“I just wanted to do something on the side while I worked my normal 9-5, working until I get my credit and retire and be a normal person. People want to break out of that, but I was at a point in my life where I craved for it. 

“VTubing is just one of those things where old habits die hard. I found myself back into something similar, but different at the same time.”

Kite had no real idea about the culture around VTubing or streaming. Hell he didn’t know any VTubers full stop. He confessed to early on in his virtual life being ignorant to popular comic writer Merry woofing in his chat because he had no idea who the Danish dog boy was. They have since collabed multiple times.

He has also become one of the most connected VTubers out there. He dances around all the conventions. He’s at many of the meet and greets. And for someone who wasn’t as social when his identity was everywhere online, he’s certainly come out of his shell.

That’s thanks to the community. It has allowed him to be truly himself. The social media presence he maintains no longer needs to be a facade. He can be authentically himself, and that’s led to some personal revelations.

“There’s a saying that’s like ‘give someone a mask and they’ll show their true selves.’ It’s very interesting because I used to look at that as a negative with the whole anonymity of the internet where you can spread hate and have no repercussions because no one can trace it back to you. Through VTubing, it’s become a positive though. 

“I’ve seen how so many people through VTubing have found that comfort of being able to be their authentic self more so than they can be IRL. Just seeing those people, it’s almost inspired me as a person. 

“What really hit hard for me, in a good way, was just looking at how comfortable people in the LGBTQIA+ community were. Throughout my whole life, I haven’t been able to explore that myself. It was through VTubing I was able to become much more comfortable with embracing that side of me and letting loose as opposed to being more conscious of it IRL.

“It’s ironic because you’re showing yourself as your character, but I’m able to be much more of who I am as a person than I was in my own flesh.”

A long-term future in the creator economy?

Two years on, VTubing is no longer just some fun side experiment for Kite while he goes chasing that corporate life. He is “feeling like an old fart,” a far cry from how green he was about the culture. It’s his full-time gig ⁠— at least for the next bit, while he’s trotting around South East Asia. 

And now he’s actually looking towards a future in VTubing, not in an office.

That starts with his 2.0 debut on February 16. Kite is retiring his host persona and moving into something a bit more extravagant. Being able to authentically show himself in the first two years of VTubing has given him a desire to be a bit more bombastic in his design.

“I want to put in the effort my audience deserves as a thank you,” he explained. “It’s reigniting that spark I lost as a result of the pandemic and the reflection I went through leaving my old life behind.

“This redebut goes both ways. My 1.0 was just for myself, streaming for the heck of it. My 2.0 redebut is not just for myself but for the people who got me to the place I have. 

“If you look at Kite now, the sexy parts aside, it gives off a carefree, loose vibe. The whole theme of Kite 2.0 is about being free. It’s hard to put into words, but when I see the new model, it just feels more liberating.”

And that chase for normalcy? It’s not part of the plans anymore. Instead with Invicta, he is looking at trying to beat boredom and make something interesting with his life. VTubing holds the key to that success, and it’s reignited his passion and creative spirit which was just going to die in the corporate world.

“How I’ve approached VTubing has changed. There’s a bit more responsibility now versus it just being a hobby and something I can do on the side while I worked my regular 9-5. I owe a lot to Invicta.

“Me deciding on living a normal life was conceding doing anything interesting with my life. It’s nice being where I am now with Invicta is like having an interesting life again where I’m pursuing something I’m passionate about.”

Kite thought at the end of the pandemic he had it all figured out. Over time though, he’s realized it wasn’t normalcy he wanted but stability. Now he’s slowly working towards that with all the friends he’s made on the journey.

“If you asked me that as a general question previously, I’d think of financial stability, having a great career. But over the years comes wisdom and maturity, and the pandemic wearing you down. 

“Now I’m able to do something that’s so rewarding and it’s a healthier place. There’s a lot that I’ve gained through VTubing. It’s helped me through so many other aspects of my life ⁠— with family, socially, and how I live my life.

“All I can hope is we stay as a group. I’m not looking for crazy growth, but stable growth and keeping the amazing community we have ⁠— it sounds so cheesy but we have such a solid community. We’ve managed to foster such a welcoming community. 

“I used to dream big, but now I dream of stability. And Taco Bell.”

And just in case you’re wondering, yes, Taco Bell is a dick joke. But some things are better left unsaid.