The Crisis Management Lessons of the Tostify VTuber Issue

We asked people of different professions to give us their perspective on the Tostify issue. Here's what we can learn from it.

The issue concerning indie VTuber Tostify which happened weeks ago has caused a wave of discussions within the VTubing community, more specifically shedding light on how the community handles crises at their ends, and how to take accountability.

The rundown of the events leading to the Tostify issue involve accusations of using AI artwork to pass off as original fan work, tracing art used by popular VTubers, accusations of coat tailing to a popular VTuber group, among others. This has resulted in a massive backlash among the VTubing community, with several indie names announcing cutting off ties with said VTuber.

Criticisms continued to escalate with Senz confronting the matter head-on, further exposing inconsistencies with Tostify’s defense and explanation of said issues. This has pushed Tostify to initially announce a graduation stream, and then just ‘calling it quits’ to finally publish an apology video, with no announcements of when he will be back.

Following the rundown of the events, NewsDrop asked several resource persons who have worked on agency management, marketing and human behavior to learn their insights and perspectives about the Tostify issue.

The Issue–Through The Lens of a VTuber Manager

NewsDrop Composite / Tostify / Magnifying glass from mvolz at OpenClipart

NewsDrop first spoke to Aozora, a manager for several indie VTubers such as Prima Kin and Veri Vixen, who is also serving as the current marketing advisor and manager for VTuber group Projekt Nova.

When asked about what his first takeaway from the issue was, he said that integrity should be the most significant lesson Tostify should have gotten from all of the callouts within the VTubing space.

“Simply put, lying and cheating to gain popularity will backfire. People will eventually notice that things are off and will ask about it, and can tell when your answers are inconsistent. In the long run, it’s far better to be transparent, even when you make mistakes,” he said.

Meanwhile, when asked about what actions he could have taken if he held Tostify under his management, he said, “If I could intervene in the situation, I would immediately ask Tostify to come clean and apologize for his actions. In my opinion, the thing that hurt Tostify the most was his lack of a sincere apology and a promise to do better. If he had a manager who understood this, I believe he and his channel would be in a much better position.”

Lastly, Aozora believes that regardless of your status within the community, an advice of being honest and transparent to the community is one way to allow a VTuber grow properly in the community.

“The one piece of advice I would give for this situation is to simply be honest. Regardless of your popularity as a VTuber, your fans want you to be yourself, and watch you for your unique personality,” he concluded.

How A Growth Marketing Manager Views the Matter

NewsDrop Composite / Tostify / Magnifying glass from mvolz at OpenClipart

NewsDrop next approached Steven Titchener, a growth marketing manager for Horizon, a German market research company centered around building products using its landing pages test suite. Titchener is also a massive anime and VTuber fan.

We put him in a hypothetical situation where he was handling Tostify as a client and got involved in the issue he is now embroiled in. Titchener frankly stated that Tostify ‘dug a deep hole for himself’, considering the apology video posted was generic and never hinted at accountability.

“What I would suggest would be to really lean into the fact that they f*cked up, and continued to do so. Maybe even host a 'roast of toast' where people can get their grievances out. No excuses from him, no I felt pressured or anything, just pure acceptance that they've done wrong,” he said.

He added that hopefully, strategies like this would get some genuine points, further stating that at this stage that's what they need to build that trust back up and to show some integrity.

Titchener added, “Then do a tonne of PR training with them, so this doesn't happen again, as badly. People are always going to get something wrong, especially on the internet, but they need to know how to handle those issues.”

Observing Tostify's Behavior

NewsDrop Composite / Tostify / Magnifying glass from mvolz at OpenClipart

NewsDrop also approached Mirai, a clinical psychology major and a variety streamer, to help observe the situation from a behavioral point-of-view. Similar to our two resource persons, we asked her to watch Senz's confrontation.

“Tostify seems to be protecting some personal interests at hand by trying to make people believe that it was a non-AI-made art and that he ethically got it from 'sources' as he speaks. However, things started to go downhill when his inconsistency as well as testimonies from various individuals spoke for his misdemeanors—it was his own words that put him in trouble,” she remarked.

It could be observed that the VTuber was in a fight-or-flight situation, which ended disastrously. In this case, does he need help? Mirai understands:

“He might possibly need professional help, as it already affects his social relationships which play an integral part in his daily functioning. However, the question is whether he would be willing to seek professional help or otherwise because based on the videos presented, there is a greater chance that he might not accept the idea that he is having serious concerns with the actions that he has shown. It would be hard for him to get the help that he deserves if he won’t submit himself to proper avenues for further intervention.”

As we close our conversation with Mirai, the plant VTuber stressed the importance of staying genuine and understanding your boundaries: “Being genuine helps, especially if you are a person of stature, like public figures such as VTubers. There is no problem admitting mistakes and that makes you even more reliable and trustworthy to everyone.”

Should we see anyone who, like Tostify, needs help sorting themselves out, Mirai suggests: “We should also take note that it might be morally and ideally correct to be honest, but some individuals might also be needing a helping hand in terms of managing themselves too, so let us be more open to extend a helping hand, especially to those who need it.”

The Takeaways

  • In a crisis, you cannot put out a fire with another one. In Tostify's case, the lies have accumulated to a point that he cannot be trusted.
  • In order to prevent crises from happening, one must be aware of the red flags and solve it as soon as possible.
  • If your friends (or your chat) are giving the warning signs, weigh in the concerns and place yourself in their situation.

We thank Aozora, Steven and Mirai for sharing their time, expertise and insight to this feature story.