Hololive still stunned by insane success of English VTubers like Gawr Gura

Hololive VTuber Gawr Gura on stage in 3d concertYouTube: Gawr Gura

Hololive is now a household name in VTubing across the world, but once upon a time they were basically unknown to an English audience. The Japanese company didn’t expect to find so much success outside the country ⁠— but they’re glad they did.

When the VTuber boom of 2020 happened in the west, Hololive was one of the first agencies to cash in on it. One could argue holoMyth ⁠— the generation featuring the five biggest English VTubers on the planet ⁠— was the catalyst for it all.

Before then, VTubing was just a niche section of the internet, relegated to just the diehard anime fandom. There weren’t many English-speaking VTubers out there. But that all changed, and now you can’t go on Twitch or YouTube without seeing them.

However, two years on from the debut of holoMyth, the agency is still stunned by the success ⁠— both management and the creators who made it happen.

During Hololive’s fifth anniversary stream, founder Motoaki ‘YAGOO’ Tanigo knew the market would be lucrative, but expectations were blown away once Gawr Gura hit 4 million subs, as well as the other successes of the group.

“As the English-speaking world is certainly very big, you could say we had some expectations of [people watching more frequently],” he said. “Since the name recognition of Hololive itself had been rising around the world, we figured we should see an increase in viewership. 

“I personally talked to all of them before their debut, but we didn’t predict anything like that.”

Ninomae Ina’nis was a long time fan of Hololive before joining the agency, having watched the talents since 2018. It was a dream to become a member of Hololive, but her blow-up in the aftermath ⁠— overtaking some of her senpais ⁠— was equal parts shocking and inspiring.

“Before our debut we didn’t think we’d get this many fans. It makes us want to work harder going forward,” she said.

The boom in 2020 also contributed to the growth of Japanese Hololive stars as a new audience was exposed to the medium.

“Hololive really got a huge influx of fans that year,” Shirakami Fubuki said. “I think I got around 700,000 subs just that year. We were very thankful. Thanks to the English and Indonesian girls joining, we got a lot more viewers from overseas.”

Mori Calliope singing on stage during 3d concertYouTube: Mori Calliope
Mori Calliope and the rest of holoMyth helped VTubing explode in the west.

It’s not just the English stars who are pushing the growth. The agency’s Indonesian talents have seen an abundance of success. Kobo Kanaeru is the leader with the Gen 3 member already cracking 1 million subscribers with her cute content, but veterans like Gen 2’s Anya Melfissa ⁠— who made an appearance in the anniversary broadcast ⁠— are also doing very well.

There was a method to the madness though. Not only was Indonesia a huge market due to the massive anime fandom, but there were also some deliberate casting decisions on Hololive’s part to make sure the groups from all languages can interact with each other. 

“[Hololive ID Gen 2] can all speak Japanese and English so they can experience media from all kinds of countries and can use that knowledge in their streams,” Hololive founder YAGOO said. “If there is ever an event with all of hololive, they could use those skills there too. They’ll play an important role for sure.”

Now with the English market continuing to grow for VTubing, Hololive is looking at expanding its reach. One way of doing this is an increased presence at anime and manga conventions with guest appearances from talent. Crunchyroll Expo in Australia and Comic Frontier in Indonesia are two of the upcoming ones.

The second is by diversifying talent, and that started with the launch of HOLOSTARS English and the TEMPUS branch.

“Among all the Hololive EN debuts, I thought it’d be interesting to see a male VTuber group that would appeal to even a male audience with their synergy as a brotherhood,” YAGOO said.

This was backed up by Axel Syrios, one of the four members of TEMPUS: “We’re a lot more like brothers than we are idols. We’re just a group overflowing with individuality. I’m really glad to be a member of this group. I feel that every day when I talk to them too.”

What the future holds from here remains to be seen, but there’s still more markets to tap into. YAGOO has previously highlighted South America as a potential growth point for the agency so it can become truly worldwide, so there’s lots to do yet.

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