Veibae loves being a “full-time anime girl”, but VTubing is more than that to her
When I asked Veibae about what she does, she called herself a “full-time anime girl”, but there’s more to VTubing, and the VShojo star, than that. As the medium becomes more normalized, there’s been a shift in how virtual stars are perceived – as well as how they see themselves.
VTubing’s explosion saw the medium rise up very quickly as this ‘other’ that, at times, was at odds with the wider streaming world. It was easy back in 2018 and 2019 to distance virtual entertainers as these fringe creators with a niche audience.
You cannot escape VTubing wherever you go online now. Twitch, YouTube, Twitter; they’re everywhere. However, the stigma still remains around this perceived ‘other’ that has kept the medium from truly flourishing.
There’s the easy cop-outs: VTubers are ‘masking’ their real identities behind these anime girls, and are they really girls? They’re a threat to regular streamers and have always been branded as such rather than two people doing the same thing — entertaining audiences — with different approaches.
However in the eyes of VShojo star Veibae those walls are slowly coming down. She’s a self-titled “full-time anime girl,” with thousands of fans tuning in every day to watch the succubus-turned-serpent stream on Twitch.
Being a VTuber isn’t her whole identity though. In fact, that’s the biggest bridge the community is still building to try and legitimize it all in the eyes of the masses — they’re all just streamers, but with different bodies.
“I don’t consider myself much of a VTuber,” she told Dexerto. “I feel like most VTubers on Twitch don’t consider themselves that; they prefer to refer to themselves as a content creator, a streamer.”
This perception and stigma didn’t just appear overnight.
It comes from the environment VTubing is steeped in: Japanese idol culture. Idols are meant to be separate entities from the person performing, prim and proper with played-up personalities. They debut and they graduate, having to fluidly move between being the idol character and their personal selves.
With idol culture comes this stigma of inauthenticity, a fake character meant to appeal to the widest masses. While some VTubers lean into that, most are choosing to be themselves — especially with English audiences. Veibae is one of them.
“I like to be honest and keep it very real with my community. I don’t like to sell them something that I’m not for the sake of monetizing them,” she added. “When you roleplay an anime character to an extreme, people tend to get very attached to that, and any slip up you have where your real human 3D person comes out, your human persona, people tend to have a breakdown.
“In Japan, VTubing is more about idol stuff. VTubers in Japan are considered idol-like, they have to be very perfect and always on their best behavior. It’s very different and I don’t want to be held to that standard because I know I’m not a perfect person and I don’t claim to be.”
However, there’s also a realization within the community that it’s okay to embrace that identity and extension of yourself. It was relatively easy to dismiss it when there were only a select few like Kizuna AI — or even before VTubing with the likes of Hatsune Miku and vocaloids. They could be seen as the other.
“People used to find VTubing cringe. You’re roleplaying and putting on a fake voice – but you’re really not. They’re just streamers, and that became normal,” she said. “Being a VTuber is no longer seen as being weird or different.
“Back then, you’d wouldn’t find a VTuber on LSF [/r/livestreamfail, a popular Reddit community], but nowadays they get clipped all the time.
“I’m glad people that found VTubers cringe are at least more open to it now and they open our streams and they’re like ‘they’re normal people having fun like everyone else.’ The stigma of it is long gone. VTubing is not different to normal streaming, and that’s the best thing to happen because that opens us up to a wider audience.”
The space has now reached a critical mass where they’re no longer the other. It’s okay say that your job is being a “full-time anime girl”. While that’s most notably seen in the overall perception of how VTubers are seen by others, it has also started a change in how those virtual stars see themselves.
The transition to VTubing, and finding confidence in herself
Veibae did not start her content creator journey as a VTuber. Before there was a succubus and a serpent, there was a camera-less streamer trying to break into the Twitch space. She started out back in 2015-16 just streaming without her face attached, playing games like PUBG, Black Desert Online, and League of Legends — but she was most well known for her Overwatch content.
She got a decent sized following, rising slowly from 20 to 50 to more than 100 average viewers per stream across a few years. There was no desire to slap her face in the bottom right hand corner of her stream.
VTubing opened up that world to her.
“I was inspired by Zentreya,” she explained. “My first [VTuber] stream that I saw on Twitch two years ago, [it] was so small. I had never heard of it before. I was browsing Just Chatting and I saw an anime girl and I’m like ‘what’s going on?’
“It was mind blowing — the technology, and being an anime character was so cool. I watched for a bit and I loved her, she’s my longest sub; and holy sh*t, people always said I sounded ‘anime’, I like anime, so let’s give it a try. That’s what happened. I followed the footsteps of Zen.”
It gave her stream more personal flair, something that previously wasn’t possible with just her voice. She got to work in creating her own model — a white-haired anime girl in a pink sweater — and brought herself onto the screen for the first time in April 2020.
It was an instant hit. Her stream went from 100-odd average viewers to thousands. Part of that was the model, but the other half was how viral she went in Japan. There was this fascination with Veibae in the Japanese community unlike nearly any other English VTuber at the time. It made for some interesting streams as she tried to tackle the language barrier as chat scrolled past at the speed of light in a dialect she couldn’t really speak.
“When I started VTubing, I got clipped by a Japanese YouTuber [Shinji] and suddenly all of my viewers were Japanese,” she laughed. “I could not read my chat, but they loved it.
“Every time I tried to speak Japanese like ‘ohayo’, saying hello to them, they’d be like ‘Vei-chan, the best!’ They were trying so hard to speak English, and I was trying so hard to speak Japanese to them, and they loved it.”
It was like getting thrown into the deep end in essence, but Veibae swam. As time went on, her English audience grew. Kanji slowly swapped to roman letters, making it a bit easier for the VTuber to connect to her audience. She could suddenly see ‘herself’ on stream, and it changed her outlook on everything.
There’s the obvious points everyone talks about — privacy, being able to manifest a perfect persona with the right model – but it’s also a way of building confidence to be more yourself. This journey of self discovery hasn’t been easy, and the usually bashful streamer had an air of sincerity in her voice as she reflected on her journey.
“I have crazy social anxiety,” she admitted. “I am not comfortable on camera at all.
“However, since VTubing I’ve been a lot more outgoing and I’m even considering streaming with a camera at this point because of how much VTubing has pushed me to grow as a person. I know it’s the same for a lot of other streamers because VTubers are socially anxious and it just helps combat that.”
This confidence has also allowed her to expand her content repetoire. Instead of just chatting to just her viewers, Veibae has trying to climb out of her social shell and reach out to more people to collab with — and maybe lean into her creative side a bit more.
“I enjoy doing Dungeons & Dragons with my VTuber friends,” Vei explained. “We’ve done two campaigns, and that was a lot of fun. That’s what inspired me to get into roleplay more.
“I was very anti-lore when I started VTubing, I just wanted to be known as a content creator. Then I did DND and I was like ‘roleplay is not cringe, it’s actually really cool.’ It helps immerse people if they want to be immersed into what some VTubers offer. Some roleplay heavily and they’re like ‘I’m this terrifying monster and I’m going to devour you’ — they never break character and that’s impressive in its own way. Now after DND, I respect that so much.”
How streamers and VTubers are different, but ultimately the same
This all comes back around to a point where VTubers and streamers diverged early on, but as time goes on the normalization of the virtual space has seen a convergence of opinion.
Once upon a time, VTubers’ successes were dismissed by the fact they were just a cute avatar on stream baiting for views and not actually creating quality content. However, as someone who has done it all, Veibae sees no difference in approach.
“People think you’re successful because you have an anime character on your stream, and that is just not true. That can be applied to literally any streamer with a camera on. It’s not a thing,” she stated.
“VTubers get the most smack for it, where the only reason we’re big is because we have a model. VTubers have a very unique personality where everyone is fun and outgoing and they put a lot of effort and bubbliness into their stream. When you click onto their stream, they always try really hard to be funny and entertaining. There’s stuff going on and content being planned. I can’t think of a single VTuber who can go on stream and just not talk. They can’t be quiet.
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“You click on a stream and want to be entertained though, so I really do think that VTubers are like any other streamer and their success comes from their personality and not their model.”
The technology has advanced so far in such a short time that the medium is more taxing and consuming than just turning on your camera and setting off on your streaming adventure. The constant innovation has pushed VTubers to improve on each other’s successes, much like how streamers are praised for pushing boundaries.
Veibae is quite proud of how her stream quality has catapulted into the future over time: “My rig can do so much. It fully tracks my face because it’s based on 3D tracking, so if I frown or smirk or stick my tongue out, it gets translated. Everything I do in real life, it shows on my model.”
ʕ ꈍᴥꈍʔ#Vtuber pic.twitter.com/akzsqOT1XI
— vei 🌥 VSHOJO (@Veibae) April 12, 2022
However, a flashy model isn’t going to make you any more impressive a streamer than the next VTuber. In fact, it doesn’t take a good model to make it far in the industry. What matters is having the personality and creativity that entices people to stick around.
“I think people going into VTubing want to spend too much money to have something that’s good in their mind. A lot of people just start as a picture though, and that’s still something — the PNGTubers. There’s not a high barrier of entry, but there’s a stigma to comparing yourself to a model that’s high-class and advanced because it’s not attainable for everybody.
“The more money that goes into it, the higher quality the output. It’s not necessarily better though, it’s just different. Just start as a picture if you want to start VTubing, people will watch you for you.
“You could have the most expensive model, but if you don’t have anything that goes with it — like personality or good content — nobody will stay for the model. There’s not many people fully focused on just that aspect.”
From succubus to serpent
When I spoke to Veibae, it was just in the aftermath of her redebut. She had retired the succubus model she used since joining VShojo in April 2021, and came out with a completely new outfit and lore as a sky serpent.
Much to her slightly ‘anti-lore’ beginnings she only really described herself as “a sky serpent that controls weather, and that’s pretty much it,” but the wild shift from part-demon to basically part-angel was one of the most drastic.
It was a very involved process too — one that she’d rather not have to go through again, she joked.
“I never want to debut ever again! When you have a debut, people always expect so much out of it and you feel pressured to make it better than the one before.
“I was planning it eight months in advance because the amount of work that goes into it — it’s not just getting the model. I had to get new overlays, emotes, alerts, animations, art, rig, model, a lore video — I’ve never voice acted before — music, sound tracks. There’s so much that goes into a debut and there’s so much stress that goes with the expectations of wanting to make people excited for it.
“When you debut a new model, there are people who get attached to the old model and you don’t want to come on stream and have a model they will compare to the old one. You need to convince them that the new one is better even though there might be an art change or it’s different.
With such a drastic shift in her model, there was a fear in the back of her mind that fans wouldn’t like the change. However, after a slight delay due to family issues, her April 20 redebut was her most well-received stream yet. More than 30,000 viewers watched on as she revealed her outfit from the toes up, with raucous applause in chat.
She also integrated a lot of little features to make sure there was something for everyone watching along. Not one to be stuck in one form, she has a bunch of different props to keep things interesting: “I’ve got cat ears, bunny ears, things to spice things up and make it fun for people.
“I just like to do things that are fun for me, I’m not really lore-heavy. If they don’t like the horns on my sky serpent model, they can like the cat ears, or the bunny ears, or a hat.”
By far the most intense part of Veibae’s debut was her lore video. Everyone always said she had the “anime” voice, but the 14 minute special gave her a chance to show that off to tell her own story.
It was a “crazy” time though, she reflected. They had the model waiting to debut, and the lore video was the final piece of the puzzle. It had to be done quickly, and Merryweathery pulled it all together in a collaborative process that connected Veibae’s new story to the people that mean the world to her — her friends.
Cameos from Snuffy, Haruka Karibu, Nyanners, Silvervale, Ironmouse, Bubi, and more really tied it all together, and made it the most memorable experience of it all.
“I’ve always wanted to get into voice acting but I’ve never had the opportunity to. VShojo came to me with the idea that I could do this and I was like ‘oh my God’ and my coworkers did theirs [Ironmouse] and it turned out amazing,” Vei explained.
“When I started mine I was very stressed because I’d never done something of that scale before and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I didn’t want to do a bad dub, pulling a Death Note Netflix animation, so I tried to make it as natural and close to my stream as possible. I think it went well.”
It was also those friends, and the rest of the VShojo, that have kept pushing Vei forward to be herself in this space.
“I’ve grown so much with these girls,” she said through tears. “We went through so much together, they’re literally family.
“When you’re a streamer, there’s a lot of organizations that reach out to you just to join and be a content creator. It’s nothing like that in VShojo. When I joined, they were instantly family. Everyone is always there for you, no matter what. Even if you want to do something together, there’s movie nights we have. We’d jump into VRChat to hang out. We always do things together.
“It’s not so much as having a collab with people, you want to be there and you want to spend time with your friends and I think that’s why people enjoy us on stream because it’s all natural.”
Surviving the boom and trailblazing the future
Beyond the screen, Veibae has come a long way as a person since starting as a streamer in the mid-2010s. VTubing is where she’s found her home, and in essence found herself.
It’s been a wild two years, especially with the ‘boom’ of 2020 seeing an explosion of talent, but the serpent believes VTubing hasn’t even reached its peak and likely “never will”.
“Back then, Zen was one of maybe 10. Then I came along, and now everyone is a VTuber. Even people who aren’t really interested in being one full-time are still a VTuber — Pokimane has a model. The legacy streamers on Twitch became VTubers because people love them,” she said.
“The boom happened in 2020, which makes sense because people were at home. Now… people are going on with their lives and that was a big worry for a lot of content creators. Everybody boomed in their viewership in 2020 and I know I was worried that once everybody went back to work or school that I might not have the viewers that I had, but I still do.”
As everyone will say, technology is constantly improving. The VTubing industry is such a rapidly growing space that every day there’s seemingly some new bit of kit to help people start out or truly elevate their streams. It’s still got a lot of unrealized potential.
That has Veibae excited – but it’s not everything. VTubing is a lot more than just pixels on a screen. It’s an opportunity to express ourselves in the ways we’ve always wanted. Veibae can finally see herself as the person she wanted to be, and get that perfect ending walking off into the sunset like a cheesy anime.
“I’m excited, excited to be a full time anime girl. I don’t plan on stopping.”