Dexerto’s Best VTubers of 2022: Top streamers, best moments in VTubing

VTubers Ironmouse, Kobo Kanaeru, and Vox AkumaTwitch: Ironmouse / YouTube: Kobo Kanaeru / YouTube: Vox Akuma

The VTuber takeover continued in 2022, with the virtual medium of streaming becoming more popular than ever. Dexerto is taking time to celebrate these achievements, highlighting the best VTubers of the year, and the top moments that defined the industry.

VTubing cemented its place in the streaming world in 2022. Agencies are only getting bigger, and the virtual entertainers gracing screens on Twitch and YouTube continue to grow.

There were plenty of massive milestones and moments to celebrate across the year. Whether it be hyped debuts (or solemn graduations), or breaking the fourth wall and bringing the virtual into the real world, a lot has happened in VTubing in 2022.

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The team at Dexerto is celebrating all this growth by listing the best VTubers of 2022, as decided by our panel, as well as top moments that had us all smiling, laughing, or crying.

The best VTubers of 2022

5. Mori Calliope

Mori Calliope singing on stage during 3d concertYouTube: Mori Calliope

Mori Calliope’s mention in this list isn’t necessarily for her stream antics. Sure, the rapper reaper of Hololive English has had plenty of on-stream success and shenanigans, but it’s her stage presence and amazing progression through music that gets her a nod on this list.

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Across the course of 2022 she released her first full album and another EP, penned a major music deal with Universal, had one of VTubing’s biggest 3D Live concerts, with a huge debut album under her label in SINDERELLA to cap it all off.

Calli had a breakout year musically, and deserves recognition for her mammoth effort and growth in the space.

4. Shylily

YouTube: Shylily

A year ago, Shylily was just starting to dip her toes into the VTuber space. She is now one of the biggest independent VTubers in the space, period. Gaining nearly a million followers across the year, she is a force to be reckoned with on Twitch.

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It wasn’t Shylily’s first rodeo in streaming, but those fresh eyes may have helped her grow even further. She didn’t massively follow VTuber culture, and with her rapid rise being noticed by many, it shaped content in the space around what she was finding success with.

Now she is at the forefront of the industry, shining a light for independent talents looking to replicate her success.

3. Vox Akuma

Vox Akuma NIJISANJI ENYouTube: Vox Akuma

Vox Akuma was a record-setter for NIJISANJI in 2022, becoming the first English member to reach one million YouTube subscribers.

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He is the face of the now-wildly popular Luxiem group, and while the rest of NIJISANJI EN ⁠— especially their male Livers ⁠— are thriving, he really got the ball rolling through deep engagement with all communities in the West, as well as in Japan and China.

While his loudest critics may focus on him leaning too heavily into the boyfriend experience and fanservice content, he is still a diverse star with thousands tuning in for his gaming and ASMR streams. 

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2. Ironmouse

Ironmouse new model on Twitch five year anniversaryTwitch: Ironmouse

The mouse with a heart of iron, Ironmouse took her VTubing career to the next level in 2022. Among the many different outfit debuts and near-daily schedule, her February subathon was a watershed moment on Twitch, pushing VTubers to the forefront of the streaming consciousness.

Mouse has used her status and power for good. She has raised plenty of awareness for her conditions, which includes charity drives and spotlighting smaller creators who are also struggling. Her millions of fans give back in spades to support these causes.

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It’d be easier to list what Ironmouse didn’t do in 2022. And with her first 3D concert planned for 2023, as well as a subathon repeat 12 months on from her trailblazing success, the future is even brighter for VShojo’s biggest star.

1. Kobo Kanaeru

Hololive VTuber Kobo KanaeruYouTube: Kobo Kanaeru

When Kobo Kanaeru debuted in March 2022, she became an overnight sensation. Indonesian VTubers had often stuck to their own side of the internet, far away from the Western fandom. Sure, NIJISANJI and Hololive’s biggest names crossed over ⁠— Kureiji Ollie is the standout example ⁠— but they didn’t have their ‘Gawr Gura’.

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Kobo Kanaeru was their Gawr Gura. She blitzed onto the scene with her adorable English and friendly yet chaotic vibes on stream to win the hearts of the world. She catapulted past 1 million subscribers, and is quickly approaching 2 million within 12 months of her debut. Her iconic collabs with Regis Altare and Mori Calliope, as well as other Hololive English talents, really let her transcend the borders of the South East Asian nation.

She brought an entire country’s worth of VTubers to the Western consciousness, and for that, Kobo Kanaeru takes home our top VTuber award for 2022.

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Best VTubers of 2022: Honorable mentions

  • Kson: Kson’s signing to VShojo was a massive grab for the US-based agency. She brought a legion of fans with her from the Japanese space, and helped them reach new heights in that market alongside Amemiya Nazuna. Her various on and off-collabs with indies in the West and Japan has done a lot to unite the two communities ⁠— and it’s like she never stops, commonly streaming twice a day, every day.
  • Hyakumantenbara Salome: It would be remiss to ignore Salome’s incredible achievement in 2022 as the “one million point lady” became the fastest VTuber to reach one million YouTube subscribers ⁠— taking just 13 days from her debut. She was also named YouTube Japan’s top content creator of the year as well, showing her worth in the domestic space.
  • Shoto: Much like Shylily, Shoto went from budding creator to a superstar across 2022. While he was already a respected name in the indie space, he has exploded to gigantic proportions, nearing 1 million Twitch followers and making waves as the platform’s top male VTuber. He grinded hard for three years, and now he’s reaping the rewards.
  • Onigiri: Onigiri gets our attention for her innovative cooking streams, and IRL broadcasts more generally. It was a first for Western VTubing, with her intricate morph suit setup and ‘floating hands’ making for an immersive experience for all. Her collabs only got bigger across the year, but many just tune in to see what she’s cooking on stream next.
  • Filian: Even if you’re not deep into the VTubing space, you’ve probably seen one of Filian’s wild VRChat clips floating around. She massively boomed in 2022 with dozens of clips going viral, and she’s hit massive milestones on both YouTube (1.5 million subs) and Twitch (500,000 followers). Here’s to hoping no one else further corrupts her seiso identity in 2023.
  • Rpr: The professional Apex Legends player turned VTuber, rpr, single-handedly united the two communities across 2022 with his various collabs across Hololive, NIJISANJI, and other agencies and independents. He’s integrated himself into the space amazingly, and become more than just an Apex streamer by cropping up in many major group collabs. Oh, he also has a mean cosplay or two in his back pocket as well

The moments that defined VTubing in 2022

Hololive x NIJISANJI EN collaborate

VTubers Alban Knox and Regis Altare next to each otherYouTube: Regis Altare / YouTube: Alban Knox

It took two years, but Hololive EN and NIJISANJI EN finally opened the floodgates to collaborations late in the year. It put an end to plenty of speculation of bad blood between the two major VTubing agencies as the industry turns a new leaf in 2023.

Regis Altare and Alban Knox started it all off with a simple Terraria stream, but now it’s not uncommon to see one crossover every week. While there wasn’t any vitriol behind closed doors, the agencies’ talents are much more open publicly in supporting each other.

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The crossovers don’t stop there. Cover Corp and ANYCOLOR have announced their intentions to crack down on VTuber harassment and defamation online together, and the space will be much better with all of their efforts both on and off-stream to unite VTubing.

VShojo Japan launches

Kson and Amemiya Nazuna from VShojoVShojo

When kson walked out on stage at Anime Expo 2022 in full cosplay, the VTubing world was blown away at the huge scalps VShojo had pulled off. In one fell swoop they had opened a Japan branch, picked up one of the biggest indies, and debuted their first-ever new talent in Amemiya Nazuna.

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Speaking to Dexerto at the time, CEO Justin ‘theGunrun’ Ignacio said it would “break down barriers” in the space. How did they do that? Well, they offered live translation of Nazuna’s debut streams (and subsequent broadcasts) so English viewers could watch along, and tried to bridge a gap between the Japanese and English fandoms.

The last point is contentious given the existence of Hololive, NIJISANJI, and their various cross-language collaborations. However it was the debut of the year, and a positive sign of things to come for VShojo.

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Ironmouse subathon breaks records

ironmouse twitch subathon endsTwitch: Ironmouse

Back in February, Ironmouse broke records with her subathon. She thought it’d last a couple of days tops, but the VShojo star found herself locked onto Twitch for 31 days, edging out the original subathon of Ludwig Ahgren.

On the way she smashed barriers. She was, at a point in time, the most-subscribed to creator on all of Twitch. To this day, she still holds the mantle of the most subs for a female streamer on the platform

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Ironmouse opened up the door to thousands of fans who saw her for the first time, and potentially millions who only just got to know VTubing in 2022. It started a major trend in the VTubing space, and with future subathons planned for Mousey, she could leverage her ever-rising fandom in 2023 to break her own record again.

TwitchCon brings the community together

Controversies aside, TwitchCon marked the big VTuber meetup of 2022. With the space exploding while everyone was stuck inside at home, some subscribed to the theory it’d fade away as a fad once people could head back outside.

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Instead the industry has bolstered itself, with many top VTubers meeting each other for the first time ⁠— and their fans ⁠— at TwitchCon. It wasn’t the only convention people went to: AnimeNYC was another popular one, and there were plenty of smaller meetups across the world.

The community shown at these big conventions, whether it be the streamers themselves or fans decked out in cosplay, shows VTubing is a force to be reckoned with for the years to come.

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Tsukumo Sana’s graduation

Hololive VTuber Tsukumo Sana during graduation streamYouTube: Tsukumo Sana

Now time for a somber note. It was a short-lived journey across the universe, but Tsukumo Sana left a huge impact on the VTubing space. Part of Hololive Council, she became the first English member to graduate from the agency in July 2022.

Her final stream has been watched by millions at the time of publishing, with a tearful farewell to her genmates, fellow Hololive talents, and all the Sanallites out there in the universe. To this day, fans are still celebrating her legacy: whether it be rewatching old streams, creating new fan art, or listening to Astrogirl on repeat.

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Even after she left, her presence was felt in the Hololive shared Minecraft server. As long as the agency lives on, Sana’s memory will never be forgotten ⁠— and she will never be alone.