She’s a “horrible abomination…disguised as a pink cat girl”. However, behind the persona of Nyanners is a soft-spoken Twitch star, a VTuber just looking to give her fans some fun memories. Oh, and world domination — that’s also on the cards.
On January 18, Nyanners made one of her wildest fever dreams a reality.
With a “breast pump” in tow, the pink cat girl ‘milked’ herself on stream. For more than three hours thousands on Twitch watched on — either in horror, disgust, or in stitches from the hilarity — as the VShojo star went into this frenzied rave full of absurd monologues and visuals that toed the line between reality and hallucinations.
There was ‘milk’ the shade of the VTuber’s hair everywhere. As the night went on, it only got more delirious. What was happening on screen was paired with some rather dramatic piano that simultaneously matched the mood perfectly, and also didn’t.
It went viral, to say the least. Clips from the stream were going wild on Reddit as those uninitiated to the streamer tried to make sense of it all. As for her more dedicated fans, they were urging her on in chat. For an outside observer, the clashing perspectives were like whiplash.
While such a crazy affair might seem like a one-off, in reality, it was peak Nyanners — a perfect summation of the star streamer’s content that has transformed her into one of the platform’s biggest VTubers.
“It took a lot of prep and it was very painful, but beauty is pain, comedy is pain, and everybody loves my milk,” she laughed, reminiscing on that moment.
“My brain is completely unleashed sometimes. It goes off in a direction and I just let it go and it ends up somewhere and I’m like ‘that’s cool we’ll run with that.’ One day I was like you know what would be great? If I just build up to a stream where I milk myself and make it into this fever dream, late-night, horrifying experience for people where after they watch it I want them to go ‘did that even happen? What even was that?’”
A pink cat girl brought to life
Trying to dissect that brain is a job best left undone, but it’s hard to not be curious about Nyanners’ journey to this point.
The VTuber reaches an audience in the tens of thousands every time she goes live on Twitch. She boasts more than 800,000 followers on the platform.
Her YouTube fandom is even bigger with 1.4 million subscribers. It also serves as a wonderful time capsule into her history as a content creator. Unlike some VTubers who try to detach their previous work from their new extension of themselves, Nyanners embraces it. It’s full of wild voiceovers and sketches juxtaposed with beautifully sung covers.
Over the last decade, she rose to internet stardom as “some kind of horrible abomination that came from the farthest reaches of space… disguised as a pink cat girl to take over the world through Twitch streaming.” Her words.
That pink cat persona isn’t just a recent thing. It’s been her brand since the very beginning, even if she could only bring that image to animated life recently.
“I was watching a lot of Kizuna AI when she first started out in 2016 and I didn’t know it was possible to rig something up like this and portray myself in this way,” she explained. “I had an avatar for a long time online that I made content with and I didn’t think, for a while, that it was very accessible for most people to get into the animation aspect of it.
“It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I was able to get into that when I feel like, that’s when VTubing started to break out into the masses through Hololive. More people started learning how to rig up the avatar — or the vessels as I call them — and it became more widely used and more accessible to the general public and I broke into it and it’s been such a perfect union for me between the kind of content I make and how I portray myself.”
Starting out independently in early 2020, she joined VShojo later that same year as a founding member of the English-speaking VTuber collective. Combined they have more than 4 million followers on Twitch.
Nyanners’ new form has enabled her to connect with her audience in a more active way. Instead of just having cover songs on YouTube with a static drawing in the bottom corner, she can now go live on Twitch with karaoke synced up to an animated model tracking her every move.
It has also given her the medium to run with crazy ideas — like milking herself — she’d never be able to tackle without it. Not just because it’s a logistical nightmare to use your real-life body for certain skits, but because the avatar gives her scope to be more authentic.
“It allows me to express myself that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I feel like I can do a lot more creative things with it and it lends itself to branching out in any direction you want and the anonymity of it is nice too.
“Even though you’re portraying yourself with an avatar, you can be more of yourself than you’d be without that. A lot of people feel like they hold themselves back when they’re streaming with a face cam — a flesh tuber. Through a mask, it feels really freeing and you can be more of yourself because you don’t have to worry about judgment on who you are.”
It’s more than just her physical VTuber form too. It’s about creating “a dream-like kind of place where these fantastical things come true” — think CGI in film.
“I did a stream where I cloned myself and played a game with myself and had various different types of my avatar on my stream playing Among Us,” she described. “I don’t want to give too much of the trick away but I had it that we were all rigged up so we were all talking to each other and playing the game together.
“There’s also this guy called Shindigs on Twitch who is really inventive with how he uses VTubing. This one he did on Valentine’s Day, he did this whole sequence where he was waiting at a restaurant for a date to show up and had a waiter come up and talk to him. It was really awkward and he was talking to his chat like ‘my date is going to show up for sure’ — random weird stuff like that, you can do it IRL but it’s easier to do it this way. It gives Adult Swim late-night cartoon vibes.”
The limitlessness of the medium has ignited a deeper fire within Nyanners to keep pushing the boundaries with content. And if that means milking herself on stream, at least she can do it without having to worry about some real-life ramifications.
The divide between VTubers and “regular” streamers
With all that being said, there is still a big stigma around VTubers and their place in online content creation. Critics of the form point towards its ‘thirst trapping’ with anime girl avatars abound — especially those who play into the ‘underage but not’ trope.
Then there are all the comments about how every VTuber is actually a man with a voice changer. Some also see it as a threat to more traditional face-cam streamers.
Nyanners has heard them all and says dispelling these myths is something the VTuber community is actively contending with as it continues its meteoric rise. It’s not so much of a divide, but rather a need to educate the wider community about this new style of entertainment.
“As far as communities go, there’s people who are still iffy about VTubers and don’t understand them and I get that. It’s a weird thing, I’ll admit. It’s weird what we do and I get that people don’t get it. Some people don’t understand VTubers, some people don’t understand streaming.
“I see a lot of comments like ‘why are you watching this anime girl avatar, it could be a dude with a beard’ and even if it was, why does it matter? Does that matter? If it’s a dude with a beard, hell yeah. If you’re entertained, who cares who is behind the avatar?
“If it’s not your thing, you don’t need to watch. If you prefer watching someone who is on camera, then go ahead and enjoy that. I love all kinds of streamers. I watch them all the time and I don’t have a preference.”
There’s still some funny bits of criticism that never fail to tickle her funny bone.
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“A lot of people come into VTubers’ chats asking ‘are you an AI? Are you a computer program?’ If that were the case, I’d be so impressed,” she laughed. “If someone made some kind of completely computer-generated thing that responds to chat, that’d be incredible technology. But we’re just weird dudes online. I’m sorry if that’s boring but we’re just streamers doing our thing.”
“I wish I was an AI, that’d be pretty cool. I wouldn’t have to think for myself.”
Ultimately though, Nyanners and the rest of the VTuber community hold very similar goals to the rest of Twitch’s entertainers. They want people to enjoy themselves while watching along. If the person on the screen looks slightly different, so be it.
“On stream, everyone has a persona. Even people who use a camera. We all put on some kind of act because we’re entertainers. A lot of it is jokes and goofing off, but we put ourselves into our work and we have our personal touch, and that’s what makes people relate to streamers and VTubers so much.
“My main goal as someone who makes content online is to make people laugh, either at me or with me, I don’t care. I want to make people laugh and smile and take their minds off whatever is bothering them. Give them a place to chill and lose track of time because they’re having such a fun time and create a community that is full of positivity and lifting each other up. That’s what’s most important to me.”
The other thing that’s really important to Nyanners is her VShojo “family”.
When she was originally approached to join the VTuber group ahead of their 2020 launch, the pink cat girl was apprehensive. She didn’t want to be a liability, and she thought there were plenty of other content creators deserving of a spot before her.
If it wasn’t for Projekt Melody pushing her outside of her comfort zone, her fever dream would have likely been cut short.
“I started out in the pandemic and it was hard. I had friends in VTubing but I didn’t have a group to belong to. I was scared to reach out to anyone,” she admitted.
“One day Melody reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to join this company. I was really worried at first, like do they really want me? What if I’m some kind of liability? I didn’t feel that confident about my content or myself, but they accepted me into their group and we all grew together and we got to watch each other make so many milestones.”
From Ironmouse’s historic subathon, to all the talent’s recent redebuts (both Veibae and Zentreya have revealed new designs in the last few weeks), Nyanners has been there. There’s almost a hint of pride in her voice, like a proud mom of sorts.
However, it’s not just being there for her ‘co-workers’ when they’re on stream or collabing. It’s the small personal moments behind the scenes that are cherished more.
“The first collab I did with Ironmouse, Silvervale, and Projekt Melody before VShojo was a thing — I was so nervous to meet all of them because they were all these big huge content creators I looked up to and I couldn’t believe they invited me to play with them, especially Ironmouse because I had been watching her for a bit before she invited me.”
Reminiscing on this, Nyanners got teary.
“Getting to meet her was so amazing because we immediately clicked and it was like we were long-lost sisters. I remember at the end of the collab we both cried because we were like ‘I can’t believe I met her.’ It’s so cool to see how far we’ve both come since then.”
🎉 VShojo Comic Special 🎉
Achieving The Dream 🎀 pic.twitter.com/yR4DoguNtO
— VShojo (@VShojoOfficial) December 17, 2021
It also gave Nyanners the confidence to go out and chase bigger collabs, including the one she’s most proud of with Takanashi Kiara from Hololive. “I was so nervous but she was such a sweetheart,” she said.
“It was a big change of pace for me because I’ve never collabed with someone that huge before, but she was so down to earth and welcoming. She roasted me the entire time and I loved it. Her beating me in all those Nintendo Clubhouse games and making a fool out of me was one of the best collabs I’ve ever done.”
VTubing’s never-ending rise
It’s important to note at this point that VTubing is still a very young medium for content creation. Animation has been around for decades now, but this at-home DIY style of it only really took hold in 2019 and 2020. Kizuna AI, who many consider the mother of the medium, debuted in 2016.
When the VTuber boom of 2020 happened, many were convinced it would be a fad. Eventually, there’ll be an oversaturation of talents and they would all tear each other down.
However, the space has only seen crazy growth. New talents are debuting every day, more people are discovering it, and thus the cycle continues. At this rate, Nyanners is convinced “the entire world will be taken over by VTubers” — which helps her quest for world domination.
“When things started blowing up so much and everyone became a VTuber, I began to wonder if it was ever going to slow down. I don’t think it will. It’s gaining more and more momentum, especially with the [Ironmouse] subathon — that put VTubing on the map even more and made it more widely acceptable,” she said.
“It’s something people see and they’re like ‘I’ll watch more VTubers’ or ‘I’ll even try and become a VTuber myself.’ I think it’s cool that more people are getting into it, either watching them or becoming them.”
That ultimately brings us back to this wild fever dream of Nyanners’ that we all live in right now. There’s always some crazy stream the pink cat girl has planned just around the corner. There’s no future, in Nyanners’ eyes, that doesn’t involve some sort of content creation. The mere thought of ‘graduation’ — the VTuber term for retirement — is scary for the eldritch horror.
In her voice, you can hear the giddish, almost innocent joy she has when she talks about what’s next. The technology for VTubing is only getting better, and just like a child with a new toy, Nyanners wants to play around with it.
“Even just a couple of years ago, people didn’t know about Kizuna AI or anything like that, and I think most people’s exposure to a virtual idol was Hatsune Miku, and she’s technically not even one — she’s a synthesized voice program. VTubers are just becoming a normal kind of performer, like how puppets are,” she explained.
“3D models and tracking are getting so detailed, the concerts with holograms, it’s just going to take off. I hope that I can be part of it in any way because it’s really exciting.
“I’m really honored to have gotten as far as I have gotten. I’m so proud of all of my friends too for doing what they’ve done. I worked a little bit, but I’m just having a good time messing around and meeting fun people along the way.”
As for what you can expect content-wise… be slightly terrified.
“I need to express myself in some kind of way or I’ll go insane. My brain is so full of horrible ideas that I need to get out or they’ll just explode, like the milking stream. If I couldn’t do that, I don’t even know. I would have too much milk in me, I had to get it out.”