What is Hololive? The VTuber group breaking YouTube and the internet - Dexerto
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What is Hololive? The VTuber group breaking YouTube and the internet

Published: 28/Nov/2021 4:37 Updated: 28/Nov/2021 6:13

by Andrew Amos

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VTubers have become internet sensations across 2021. There’s one group that reigns supreme: Hololive. With over 50 creators under their banner, here’s how the Japanese company broke YouTube, and the internet, with their idols.

Everyone knows the household names in online entertainment, from Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg to Jimmy ‘MrBeast’ Donaldson. However, a number of these online stars are becoming increasingly ‘virtual’.

The VTuber craze has taken YouTube by storm, and one company is at the forefront of it all: Hololive. The Japanese talent agency is home to over 50 creators, and all of them are taking the internet by storm and breaking records. And, VTuber-mania doesn’t look like slowing down soon.

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Hololive VTubers
Hololive
VTubers are taking over YouTube, and Hololive is leading the charge.

What are VTubers?

VTubers are a relatively new phenomenon when it comes to the internet. Short for “Virtual YouTubers,” they are online entertainers and idols. However, unlike your usual streamers, they use a virtual avatar as their ‘camera’.

The trend spawned out of Japan in the early 2010s, but didn’t really take off until Kizuna AI’s creation in late 2016. Considered the first VTuber in history, Kizuna broke the expectations of who streamers are, and brought virtual reality into entertainment in a big way.

After that, VTubers exploded globally. At the time of writing, there are over 10,000 known VTubers. There are also talent agencies housing these VTubers, the biggest of which is Hololive.

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Some of the world’s biggest streamers, including Pokimane and PewDiePie, even cashed in on the craze in the peak of its mainstream popularity in 2020. However, even since then, the industry has only continued to boom, becoming one of the most popular trends on YouTube with billions of views per month.

PewDiePie's second anime avatar.
YouTube: PewDiePie
Even traditional content creators like PewDiePie (pictured in avatar form) are becoming VTubers.

The rise of Hololive in 2020

Hololive is an arm of Cover Corp, a Japanese start-up created by Motoaki ‘Yagoo’ Tanigo. Often referred to as the father of VTubers, Yahoo started exploring the concept of these virtual entertainers in 2017, inspired by vocaloid idol Hatsune Miku.

After debuting Tokino Sora in September 2017, Hololive slowly expanded from there. One VTuber turned into two, and then all of a sudden, there were dozens of creators under their banner by the end of 2019.

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Expanding into China, Indonesia, and English-speaking nations across 2019 and 2020 turned Hololive from a niche Japanese group into a truly global experience. While all of Hololive’s Chinese VTubers have since “graduated” (codeword for retired) due to controversy, it did its job of bringing virtual entertainment into the foreground.

2020’s expansion into the Western market saw the rise to the trend as we know it today. Hololive English’s first five VTubers ⁠— Mori Calliope, Takanashi Kiara, Ninomae Ina’nis, Gawr Gura, and Amelia Watson ⁠— took over YouTube, leading to a complete craze in September.

The Council expansion in 2021 with five new English idols only cemented Hololive’s place at the forefront of internet fandom.

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Gawr Gura on stream
YouTube: Gawr Gura
Gawr Gura is Hololive’s biggest VTuber with over three million subscribers.

There’s no exact answer as to why VTubers exploded in popularity. The use of a virtual avatar may be one side of the story, giving previously-camera shy personalities a way to express themselves. It’s also just different from your regular online entertainer business.

The VTubers themselves are immensely successful. Nine out of the 10 highest-earning YouTube stars (based on Superchats, the platform’s donation system) are VTubers — eight of them are signed by Hololive.

Collectively, 40 million subscribers follow Hololive VTubers, and that number only grows when you consider other talent agencies.

The future of Hololive and VTubers

With a wider Western audience getting involved with VTubers ⁠— whether it be new talents like those under Hololive, or already established streamers like PewDiePie making the switch ⁠— the future for VTubers looks even brighter in 2022.

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What this year will bring for Hololive remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure ⁠— VTubers are here to stay.

List of Hololive VTubers

Subscriber numbers correct as of November 28, 2021. Italicized = retired.

Name Generation Debut Subscribers
Tokino Sora Hololive Generation 0 7 September 2017 893,000
Roboco Hololive Generation 0 4 March 2018 778,000
Sakura Miko Hololive Generation 0 25 December 2018 1,290,000
Yozora Mel Hololive Generation 1 13 May 2018 647,000
Shirakami Fubuki Hololive Generation 1 1 June 2018 1,690,000
Natsuiro Matsuri Hololive Generation 1 1 June 2018 1,160,000
Aki Rosenthal Hololive Generation 1 1 June 2018 611,000
Akai Haato Hololive Generation 1 2 June 2018 1,300,000
Hitomi Chris Hololive Generation 1 3 June 2018 Deleted
Minato Aqua Hololive Generation 2 8 August 2018 1,430,000
Murasaki Shion Hololive Generation 2 17 August 2018 928,000
Nakiri Ayame Hololive Generation 2 3 September 2018 1,170,000
Yuzuki Choco Hololive Generation 2 4 September 2018 775,000
Oozora Subaru Hololive Generation 2 16 September 2018 1,190,000
AZKi Inonaka Music 15 November 2018 543,000
Ookami Mio Hololive Gamers 7 December 2018 894,000
Nekomata Okayu Hololive Gamers 6 April 2019 1,250,000
Inugami Korone Hololive Gamers 13 April 2019 1,720,000
Hanasaki Miyabi Holostars Generation 1 8 June 2019 111,000
Kagami Kira Holostars Generation 1 9 June 2019 73,700
Kanade Izuru Holostars Generation 1 22 June 2019 161,000
Usada Pekora Hololive Fantasy 17 July 2019 1,790,000
Uruha Rushia Hololive Fantasy 18 July 2019 1,480,000
Shiranui Flare Hololive Fantasy 7 August 2019 813,000
Shirogane Noel Hololive Fantasy 8 August 2019 1,360,000
Houshou Marine Hololive Fantasy 11 August 2019 1,710,000
Yakushiji Suzaku Holostars Generation 1 7 September 2019 Deleted
Arurandeisu Holostars Generation 1 8 September 2019 142,000
Yogiri Hololive China Generation 1 27 September 2019 Deleted
Rikka Holostars Generation 1 20 October 2019 196,000
Civia Hololive China Generation 1 1 November 2019 Deleted
Hoshimachi Suisei Hololive Generation 0 1 December 2019 (was previously independent) 1,230,000
Astel Leda Hololive Sun Tempo 7 December 2019 173,000
Kishido Temma Hololive Sun Tempo 14 December 2019 109,000
Yukoku Roberu Hololive Sun Tempo 24 December 2019 226,000
Amane Kanata Hololive Generation 4 27 December 2019 1,090,000
Kiryu Coco Hololive Generation 4 28 December 2019 1,440,000
Tsunomaki Watame Hololive Generation 4 29 December 2019 1,110,000
Tokoyami Towa Hololive Generation 4 3 January 2020 869,000
Himemori Luna Hololive Generation 4 4 January 2020 736,000
Spade Echo Hololive China Generation 1 30 January 2020 Deleted
Doris Hololive China Generation 2 3 April 2020 Deleted
Rosalyn Hololive China Generation 2 5 April 2020 Deleted
Ayunda Risu Hololive Indonesia Generation 1 10 April 2020 574,000
Moona Hoshinova Hololive Indonesia Generation 1 11 April 2020 930,000
Artia Hololive China Generation 2 11 April 2020 Deleted
Airani Iofifteen Hololive Indonesia Generation 1 12 April 2020 487,000
Tsukishita Kaoru Hololive TriNero 29 April 2020 Deleted
Kageyama Shien Hololive TriNero 30 April 2020 174,000
Aragami Oga Hololive TriNero 1 May 2020 145,000
Yukihana Lamy Hololive Generation 5 12 August 2020 868,000
Momosuzu Nene Hololive Generation 5 13 August 2020 824,000
Shishiro Botan Hololive Generation 5 14 August 2020 1,030,000
Mano Aloe Hololive Generation 5 15 August 2020 Deleted
Omaru Polka Hololive Generation 5 16 August 2020 872,000
Mori Calliope Hololive Myth (English) 12 September 2020 1,800,000
Takanashi Kiana Hololive Myth (English) 12 September 2020 1,260,000
Ninomae Ina’nis Hololive Myth (English) 12 September 2020 1,280,000
Gawr Gura Hololive Myth (English) 13 September 2020 3,610,000
Watson Amelia Hololive Myth (English) 13 September 2020 1,530,000
Kureiji Ollie Hololive Indonesia Generation 2 4 December 2020 902,000
Anya Melfissa Hololive Indonesia Generation 2 5 December 2020 408,000
Pavolia Reine Hololive Indonesia Generation 2 6 December 2020 520,000
IRyS Hololive Project: HOPE July 11 2021 718,000
Tsukumo Sana Hololive Council (English) August 22 2021 240,000
Ceres Fauna Hololive Council (English) August 22 2021 372,000
Ouro Kronii Hololive Council (English) August 22 2021 548,000
Nanashi Mumei Hololive Council (English) August 22 2021 453,000
Hakos Baelz Hololive Council (English) August 22 2021 377,000
La+ Darknesss Hololive Generation 6 November 26 2021 351,000
Takane Lui Hololive Generation 6 November 27 2021 209,000
Hakui Koyori Hololive Generation 6 November 28 2021 131,000
Sakamata Chloe Hololive Generation 6 November 29 2021 126,000
Kazama Iroha Hololive Generation 6 November 30 2021 122,000