Happy New Year! We continue with our double-feature story featuring VTuber personalities outside Japan.
We are still joined by our panelists Syahrian Naufal Alfarizy of Ayukawa Media, Bhromor Rahman from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law (who is also a contributor for Anime News Network), FalseEyeD of Things VTubers Say, Shabir and Aasif of Velo City, Petrit Baillet of Anime Trending and Andrew "Ducky" Amos of Dexerto.
If you missed the first part, feel free to read it first, where we asked what are the biggest VTuber moments in 2022:
We continue with our feature by asking their outlook for the VTubing scene in 2023.
The New Normal
We go back to Naufal, who has insight of the current state of VTubing in Indonesia:
[...] The outlook might not be so bright, yet not so gloomy either.
Especially when we're at the state where the COVID-19 pandemic could be ending soon, we might be able to see more and more talents out there that are going to graduate, mostly because of personal or working issues.
Flexible rules and agreements need to be created in order for them to be able to be working flexibly as a VTuber, without ruling out their IRL commitments.
Several VTubers have graduated due to personal reasons last year—in the case of Malaysia, MyHolo TV's Virion Kisei leaves the agency, who cites real life commitments in his departure.
This outlook could also be reflected with the dissolution of Philippine-based Stellar Paradigm's YashinLive group, with most of its talents going back to indie VTubing due to their work commitments.
...and as we prepare this post, we have learned that Inuyama Tamaki temporarily suspends his activities due to stress and work-related matters.
Continuous Growth = Bigger Stakes to Take
We now turn over to Bhromor from Canada. He has given a detailed insight into what the year may bring to VTubers and what pitfalls to avoid in order to stay afloat:
Just like how actors fly to Hollywood to find fame, but most end up with nothing, or for every mobile game like FGO there's a 100 microstransaction mills, a few VTubers will succeed (as some already have) while most will end up as flops, and every Cover Corp. will leave 100 Coral Corporations on its trail.
I'm not being cynical here; that's just how life works. In fact, I'd say that the VTuber industry is basically talent agencies on steroids. It's improving upon an industry that already exists with technology.
What was then known as Pearl Orient Production had its entire talents and staff resigned as its CEO went missing—which Bhromor covered for The Game Crater, with an interview from one of its former talents.
He also took a closer look at how Haruka Karibu was admitted to VShojo as its newest member, and what VTubers need to realize with this talent acquisition:
Actually, Haruka joining VShojo is definitely up there in terms of top VTuber news because it also addresses something important: Just working hard isn't enough to succeed.
Haruka did everything necessary to succeed. She worked hard to make good content AND cultivated close relationships with VShojo talents. She applied to the audition and still had to wait a whole year (like anyone else would have) to get in.
She didn't get a red carpet or special treatment. That's just how hiring and promotion works in any big organization anywhere in the world.
Bhromor's outlook is detailed and insightful, but FalseEyeD's question puts his outlook in a concise manner:
Going into 2023, the question is now if Agencies have learned from the hard lessons of 2022, and if we will see even more Independent VTubers rocket in popularity and exposure.
The year 2022 is a terrible one for agencies, bringing into the spotlight the several graduations (or terminations) of agency VTubers. Some groups are also put into bad situations to a point that chilling effects are put in place to dissuade critics from speaking.
A common benefit for independent VTubers is they take control of their creative freedom, but with indies such as Bao, Shoto and OniGiri getting signed to other talent agencies, will their status affect their independence?
Independent VTubers Will Continue to Thrive
Just like False, Petrit of Anime Trending looks forward to increased growth of the indie scene:
We think independent VTubers will continue to thrive going into 2023. Live2D technology will continue to become more accessible, and the community artists and technicians behind the models will continue to hone their skills and grow in number.
Without the overhead that comes with being a part of an agency, independent VTubers will have more room to experiment with new styles of content across different platforms and formats. I would really like to see fresh talent continue to come along and make us rethink what being a VTuber is about.
Increased Exposure within the Mainstream
Velo City's Shabir and Aasif raised a good point as they shared their outlook to us: There are more opportunities to interact with fans aside from watching them on their computers or mobile devices:
VTubers are already starting to hit the mainstream market (e.g. dedicated VTuber conventions, interviews on national television, featured on games etc.) but we're hoping to see this trend increase even more!
Just imagine seeing your favourite VTuber singing the opening for your favourite anime or VTubers holding panels at conventions from the other side of the world!
Also side note - living in the UK, we are STARVED for VTuber coverage so let's also give the UK VTubers/fans a cheeky push too! 👀
These, aside from numerous appearances in conventions (on stage, in merchandise and even in the convention floor), makes VTubers an attraction online and offline. There is an opportunity for VTubers to engage not only with the fans but also with the traditional and digital media to spread their word out.
VTubing Needs to Be Sustainable
Ducky echoes Velo City's answer with emphasis on the community—but also alerts VTubers that what they do needs to be sustainable in the long run:
VTubing is in a funny spot. It's very clear the bubble has burst, and everything is plateauing and consolidating. However, I think there is an optimistic feel about the future.
With agencies ramping up their auditions and independent talents signing bigger deals, it's evident brands are starting to take notice of VTubing's power. This is what the industry needs to leverage growth in the future - interest from stakeholders and investors.
The fanbase is incredibly strong, but the audience can still grow, and if these major marketing campaigns, crossovers, and in-person events continue, the scene will continue to slowly grow.
We will likely never see a repeat of 2020's boom, but that's likely for the best. VTubing needs sustainable growth to exist for the decades to come, not just one big expansion before fading away into a fad. I think that situation has been avoided, and we'll start to see the effects of that come 2023.
This concludes our two-part feature, and we thank everyone who participated in this series. We will be back with a new edition of the Weekly NewsDrop on January 14.Banner Photo: Andreas Dress on Unsplash