Senz was just about to quit streaming before he stumbled upon VTubing.
For the now-virtual star, streaming was his connection to the outside world. An introvert at heart and with “a rough life” framing his existence, he found a community of people who liked the hobbies he did.
But he struggled to really find a place. His original home—something he proclaimed as a “bad part of the FPS community”—was so “toxic and awful” it affected his own mental state, and how he treated others. After shooters, he moved onto VR games, mostly Phasmophobia, but that started to fall off.
VTubing was a light in the dark for him: “As soon as I was going to quit, I found myself in a collab with Momo and she was very nice to me,” he told NewsDrop. “Even before I was a VTuber I had an anime persona as my profile picture. I was very intrigued by VTubing after that.”
It wasn’t a smooth transition. His preconceived notions of the streaming community had him looking behind constantly with defenses high. It took a while for him to open up and be willing to not just let the VTubing community accept him, but for him to accept himself.
So when Senz redebuted to start 2023—two years on from his VTubing debut—it was a very cathartic experience. While on the surface level it has the edgy “shounen-like” vibe of taking on the demon inside of him, that’s the personal battle he legitimately had to overcome to keep going.
“My ‘demon’ was literally an embodiment of my dark past. [I have] a lot of trauma. I don’t go outside at all. I’m super introverted. I’m socially kind of weird. My demon for me was the embodiment of that, all the bad about me.
“But… I have found some place where I can just be myself, and be happy.”
The VTubing “Culture Shock”
Senz now markets himself as a “comfy ice demon”, and that’s in line with the content he wants to provide: “I have very different moments where I am very soft-spoken, and others where I’m loud and trying to be funny.”
It’s a far cry from the timid streamer he started out as. Growing up, all he really had for a community was his friends online, playing games. He wasn’t all that confident speaking in voice call even, let alone in front of an audience.
“It sounds very cheesy but I live in a very normie area,” he laughed. “It might sound cringe, but everyone around me doesn’t play video games. They’re all just very boring people to me. I just couldn’t hold a conversation with anyone around me. People online I relate to a lot more. I’m very introverted too so I do most of my socializing online.
“One day someone I used to talk to said I had a nice voice and I’m pretty entertaining, so I should try streaming. I was like ‘I don’t know, I don’t think it’s for me.’ Unlike what a lot of people think, before I started streaming I knew how hard it was.”
When he started back in 2017, it took off almost immediately. He slowly started to grow, and there was finally a broader community of people who he could interact with and relate to.
What he didn’t realize at the time was the communities, namely FPS ones, weren’t healthy. Senz had to hide aspects of himself to fit in, and there was a strong culture of machismo. As drama boiled over constantly, his fuse was running thin and he “became depressed and hated the games and community.”
After that spark of inspiration, Senz knew he had at least one more crack at streaming. It was easy enough to turn his anime persona into a Live2D model and take up the virtual medium.
The harder bit was trying to integrate into a community which was a near total polar opposite to what he had known for years.
“Because I’m an introvert and being online is most of my social life, that was everything to me. Going from this tough community where everyone was so mean to each other and fake [to VTubing was refreshing].
“The VTuber community is some place I have felt comfortable. People in the community are truly, unapologetically themselves.”
Senz did admit to leaving a bit of a fiery trail in his wake. By jumping into the VTuber community without really acclimatizing to the culture, the first year was tough. But it’s a slow learning process, and one he’s taking on as he grows as a person.
“Coming from the FPS community, I was not socially prepared,” he explained. “I was very walled off. I was very passive to everyone and assumed everyone wanted to fight all the time. I was very defensive.
“The culture shock was a bit tough, but it was necessary. I would have more friends in the community if I came in a bit more ready and prepared. I don’t blame the people who dislike me because I probably earned that by being too standoffish or something. I learned the hard way.”
And as he leaves his past behind, he can’t help but reflect on how far he’s come, and how much better he is for it.
“I’ve literally had people find my stream years later from when I was a fleshtuber, and they say the exact thing to me I just described to you—‘oh cringe, oh gay, oh you’re a furry or whatever, oh are you scared to show your ugly face?’
“If I cried on stream before as an FPS streamer, people would have called me a bitch, and absolutely socially destroyed me. They’re very toxic, emotionally not there. Being able to be myself and express myself and be vulnerable. All of that is why I owe everything to VTubing.”
The “Super Sick Jacket” Feeling of a Redebut
All this leads into Senz’ recent redebut. Completely revamping his VTuber presence, it’s a new chapter in the streamer’s life. The January 7 stream was on Twitch front page, with 18,000 viewers tuning in to see the new oni design.
It’s come with a few new philosophies around streaming. After being stuck in a community which only valued the games he played, Senz is reimagining his content around himself. It’s a small thing he noticed about the VTuber community—fans care about the streamer, and the person behind the model, more than the content.
“When I was an FPS streamer, when I played anything else, everyone stopped watching. It sucked,” he reflected.
“[And] I don’t want to jump the gun or anything, but it’s been f*cking amazing. I try to not care about viewcount too much because it’s unhealthy, but my community has done a complete 180. My old community was fine, but my new community really likes me [for who I am], and it's a really nice feeling.”
He used a rather apt analogy: clothes shopping. Ignoring the literal sense of the term of a VTuber’s debut usually involving a major change of outfit, there’s a special feeling around getting a new wardrobe that better reflected his own personality.
“Let’s imagine your whole life you’ve been wearing white t-shirts every day. One day, you go to the store, and you find this super sick jacket. Just the coolest jacket ever. You buy that jacket and you’re feeling sexy now. You have confidence and you can be yourself.
“Everyone else had these nice clothes and were expressing themselves. When I got my new model, it gave me the confidence to be myself completely. That’s why I’ve grown. That’s the biggest reason.”
People will point towards the “good model equals instant success” debate with an argument like that. It’s still up to the streamer to be entertaining and engaging though. For Senz, that snazzy new jacket bolstered the confidence to become the entertainer on stream he knew he had to be to be successful—far beyond the already significant achievements he had made to that point.
“The model suits me perfectly: my voice, my personality. That in itself gives me the confidence to be myself, and when I’m being myself, my content is better because that’s just natural—I’m not forcing anything.
“I’m not a whole new person or putting on an act, but I’ve gained confidence because of my model, and it’s like buying that really nice jacket.”
Opening Up Through Streaming
The wider element of confidence VTubing has afforded Senz the ability to be open with who he is and use the medium as a self-exploration journey. Starved of those opportunities from a rough upbringing and a toxic relationship with streaming to start, the virtual world has provided a fresh slate.
He could be more open about his sexuality—Senz is bi—and that was something he “never said in the shooter community.”
“I’m comfortable with admitting that in this community. I am comfortable being more vulnerable and expressing my feelings.
“Just being myself, being goofy, and the way I act is something I’ve never done before. It’s not something I could have done. Having the capability to 100% be myself—whether that be goofy or degenerate or whatever—is awesome.”
He’s also been able to grow as a person. VTubing has taught Senz to be more empathetic and caring. He’s let go of his old personality, and while he “will never claim to be perfect”, it’s small improvements.
Now he can look into a brighter future. Top of the list is making a “little VTuber group”—nothing formal, but just a group of friends “who just collab all the time.”
“It’s difficult for me to make friends so that’s why I’m a little jealous of people who are in groups because they have people they can rely on. I would like to have that. It can be an organization, but I just want people to be close with.”
But ultimately he wants to make sure he never finds himself on the wrong side of the fence again, and doesn’t feed the demon too much.
“I should just worry about myself, and work on myself and my content.
“I just want to be a good boy going forward, and it might sound like I’m a dog, but I mean it!”
Banner Photo: makagi2 on Twitter