Hololive Productions: The Rise of the VTuber
VTuber, Hololive Productions, and their generations — it sounds like the start to a sci-fi novel, or the acronym for an experiment involving rabbits, a teleporter, and a laboratory.
While these might be decent topics for novels or experiments, I promised you a blog post. It just so happens that in order to understand VTubers, we need to track their timeline from the beginning. So let’s begin!
The Original VTubers
For more than a decade YouTube has reigned supreme as the largest digital video sharing social media platform, and is the point of origin for thousands of successful influencers and online personalities. This phenomenon has been so pronounced that the unique term ‘YouTuber’ was coined for active users of that platform. Chances are, all of you know what a YouTuber is: a person who faithfully produces video content on YouTube.
Well let’s go back to May 2011, a time where diary-style content and vlogging were increasing in popularity on YouTube. At this time, an individual by the name of Ami Yamato emerged to vlog about her travels from London to Tokyo on YouTube.
There was nothing unusual or spectacularly different about her vlog content. What was unique about this virtual influencer was that she used real-time motion capture software to create a computer-generated identity for her vlog content. Little did she know, this would change the way the world viewed online personalities forever.
Enter Kizuna AI five years later (who was fairly successful) and it was evident that using avatars to convey content on YouTube had a raw potential that could be even further enhanced by state of the art technology.
In fact, in June 2016 Motoaki Tanigo, a Keio University graduate from the Faculty of Science and Technology, founded the Japanese tech entertainment company Cover Corporation, which focused on the development and management of augmented reality and virtual reality software. In March 2017 the company released a demo of their 3D motion capture digital avatar technology that was called Hololive, which debuted Tokino Sora later in September that year as the first virtual idol to use this technology.
Hololive was then officially launched in December of 2017, with 4 additional virtual idols debuting between March to November in 2018.
Hololive Generation 0
Those of you who are very familiar with Hololive know that the first official generation debuted between June 1st to June 3rd, 2018. What you might be less familiar with is the solo debutants that came out before the Hololive 1st Generation.
The second Hololive member to join the agency after Tokino was Roboco-san, followed by Hoshimachi Suisei, Sakura Miko and AZKi.
Generation 0 Lineup:
Tokino Sora – She’s a pop star. Sora is gentle, friendly, shy, innocent, and fits the traditional Japanese girl trope. Her usual activities include playing video games and singing (she’s actually pretty good at this). Tokino Sora debuted on September 7th, 2017.
Roboco-san – She’s a robot. Roboco-san is cute, endearing, playful, prone to episodes of vulgarity and sometimes downright lewd behavior. She’s actually a pretty decent gamer but throws hair raising tantrums when she loses. Robocco-san debuted on March 4th, 2018.
Hoshimachi Suisei – She’s a pop star. Suisei is chaotic, blunt, extroverted and loves dark humor. She is also heavily into video games, but mostly the kind where mass casualties can be inflicted. Hoshumachi Suisei debuted on March 22nd, 2018.
Sakura Miko – She’s a shrine maiden. Miko is cute, silly, prone to panic and a bit mischievous. She has put in enough video game hours to be a veteran, but still manages to play like a complete NEWB. Sakura Miko debuted on August 1st, 2018.
AZKi – She’s a pop star. AZKi is cute, funny, sweet, delicate, is an outstanding singer and often described as a ‘diva’. AZKI debuted on November 15th, 2018.
Random Generation 0 Video Highlights:
Hololive 1st Generation
Between May 2nd and 13th, 2018, Hololive opened auditions for what would be their first official group of virtual idols, often referred to as the Hololive 1st Generation.
Hololive 1st Generation Lineup:
Yozora Mel – She’s a vampire. Mel is eccentric, cute, humorous, and wholesome. She has a fair amount of cooking videos (RIP for those persons who actually tried to recreate her recipes), gaming and ASMR videos. Yozora Mel debuted on May 13th, 2018.
Aki Rosenthal – She’s an elf from another dimension. Aki is curious, friendly, determined, and occasionally very raunchy. She’s into singing, belly-dancing and ASMR. Aki Rosenthal debuted on June 1st, 2018.
Akai Haato – She’s just an ordinary tsundere girl. Haato is quirky, confident, unapologetic, swears incessantly, and has a deranged sense of humor. She does a fair amount of freestyle rapping, cooking and ASMR videos. Akai Haato debuted on June 2nd, 2018.
Shirakami Fubuki – She’s a fox. Fubuki is cheerful, energetic, sweet, and shy. She is highly skilled at video games and is a member of Hololive Gamers. She is also the 3rd most subscribed Vtuber on Youtube. Shirakami Fubuki debuted on June 1st, 2018.
Natsuiro Matsuri – She’s a cheerleader. Matsuri is dramatic, persistent, unapologetic, and unpredictable. She is more or less a tomboy. Natsuiro Matsuri debuted on June 1st, 2018.
Please note, Hitomi Chris was not included in our list for Hololive 1st Generation since she is retired.
Random Hololive 1st Generation Video Highlights:
Hololive 2nd Generation
The 2nd Generation of Hololive members debuted between August 8th and September 17th, 2018.
Hololive 2nd Generation Lineup:
Minato Aqua – She’s a virtual maid. Aqua is cute, naïve, adventurous, a crybaby and prone to panic. Her usual activities include playing video games and singing. Minato Aqua debuted on August 8th, 2018.
Murasaki Shion – She’s a dark magician. Shion is loud, confident, flirty, playful, and silly. She plays video games, sings, and watches anime. Murasaki Shion debuted on August 17th, 2018.
Nakiri Ayame – She’s a student from the underworld. Ayame is chaotic, playful, silly, and friendly. She plays video games (she’s pretty good at Minecraft), sings and is just generally pretty chatty. Nakiri Ayame debuted on September 3rd, 2018.
Yuzuki Choco – She’s a nurse from the underworld. Choco is focused, straightforward, mature, curious and a bit lewd at times. She often features with other Vtubers for chitchat, she also loves to cook, play video games, and watch BL. Yuzuki Choco debuted on September 4th, 2018.
Oozora Subaru – She’s the manager of a sports club and MMA team. Subaru is cute, goofy, playful, dramatic, and girly (this is really ironic seeing as her avatar looks tomboyish). Oozora Subaru debuted on September 16th,2018.
Random Hololive 2nd Generation Video Highlights:
Hololive 3rd Generation
By June 13th, 2019, auditions were opened to scout for Gen 3 Hololive members, often referred to as ‘Hololive Fantasy’. These idols debuted between July 17th, and August 11th, 2019.
Hololive 3rd Generation Lineup:
Usada Pekora – She loves carrots (perhaps because she’s a furry?). Pekora is cute, brave, persistent, carefree, and occasionally fairly destructive. She plays tons of videogames and is prone to lawlessness during gameplay (to the point where people have nicknamed her ‘war criminal’). Usada Pekora debuted on July 17th, 2019.
Shiranui Flare – She’s half-elf. Flare is focused, mature, funny, and easily entertained. She plays video games (and is pretty exceptional at this actually). Shiranui Flare debuted on August 7th, 2019.
Shirogane Noel – She’s a knight. Noel is cute, charming, funny, and prone to shouting to get her point across. She loves general Q&A chit chat and playing videogames. Shirogane Noel debuted on August 8th, 2019.
Houshou Marine – She’s a pirate. Marine is playful, energetic, intense, lewd and has random episodes of profanity. She has amazing drawing skills. She also loves to sing and play video games. Houshou Marine debuted on August 11th,2019.
Please note, Uruha Rushia was not included in our list for Hololive Gen 3 since she is retired.
Random Gen 3 Hololive Video Highlights:
Hololive 4th Generation
On December 2nd, 2019, Cover Corporation merged Hololive with other Holostars branches and INNK Music to form Hololive Production. By December 25th, 2019, the first three Hololive members of the 4th Generation were announced, these were: Amane Kanata, Kiryu Coco and Tsunomaki Watame. The remaining two Hololive members (Tokoyami Towa and Himemori Luna) were announced on December 31st, 2019. Hololive Generation 4 is often referred to as ‘HoloForce’.
Hololive 4th Generation Lineup:
Amane Kanata – She’s an angel (literally). Kanata is gentle, caring, silly, playful, wholesome, and oftentimes she transforms into the exact opposite of these qualities. She introduced herself using a ‘Powerpoint Presentation’ in her Youtube debut, which earned her the nickname ‘Power Point Tenshi’ or ‘PP Tenshi’ (Power Point Angel). Her favorite activities are impersonating other members, singing, dancing and playing videogames. Amane Kanata debuted on December 27th, 2019.
Tsunomaki Watame – She’s a sheep girl. Watame is unpredictable, silly, adorable, determined and sometimes straight up hardcore (especially when rapping)… but none of that is her fault. She likes to roleplay, sing, and play videogames. Tsunomaki Watame debuted on December 29th, 2019.
Tokoyami Towa – She’s a devil from the underworld. Towa is emotional, clumsy, sweet, and wholesome. She loves to sing, play videogames, and is easily influenced by other idols to do things that are out-of-character. Tokoyami Towa debuted on January 3rd, 2020.
Himemori Luna – She’s a princess from another planet. Luna is adorable, innocent, carefree, shy, and soft-spoken. She sings and plays videogames. Himemori Luna debuted on January 4th, 2020.
Please note, Kiryu Coco was not included in our list for Hololive Gen 4 since she is retired.
Random Hololive 4th Generation Video Highlights:
Hololive 5th Generation
By the early 2020’s, the concept of virtual idols became a global online phenomenon (probably because the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to watch insane amounts of video content during the national shutdowns), and with that came the term ‘VTuber’, a term that refers to online personalities who use avatars to livestream on YouTube, or virtual YouTubers.
At this time Hololive Production was the leading agency for VTubers since they combined the entertainment value of Japanese idol groups with technologically advanced software that captures and maps the user’s expressions, motions, and movements to 2D and 3D models.
On August 6th, 2020, Hololive Productions announced the five new hololive members of its 5th Generation, these were: Omaru Polka, Shishiro Botan, Mano Aloe, Momosuzu Nene and Yukihana Lamy. Hololive 5th Generation was often referred to as ‘HoloFive’, however, the name was changed to ‘NePoLaBo’ after Mano Aloe retired from the group.
Hololive 5th Generation Lineup:
Yukihana Lamy – She’s the daughter of a noble family. Lamy is polite, tolerant, submissive, friendly, endearing, and motherly. She likes to interact with other idols during her chit-chat live streams, play videogames and also does ASMR. Yukihana Lamy debuted on August 12th, 2020.
Momosuzu Nene – She’s an aspiring pop star from another planet. Nene is playful, silly, curious, dramatic and a little wayward at times. She is a great singer and like most other idols, plays tons of videogames. Momosuzu Nene debuted on August 13th, 2020.
Shishiro Botan – She’s a lioness. Botan is calculative, precise, patient, fearless, unbothered, basically all the qualities attributed to an apex predator. She loves to play videogames and is an elite, five-star general when it comes to FPS gameplay (there is no doubt she is the best marksman in Hololive history). Shishiro Botan debuted on August 14th, 2020.
Omaru Polka – She’s a circus performer. Polka is chaotic, silly, playful, energetic, and likes to joke around. She is usually found featuring in livestreams with other idols, but also loves to chitchat and play videogames. Omaru Polka debuted on August 16th, 2020.
Please note, Mano Aloe was not included in our list for Hololive 5th Generation since she is retired.
Random Hololive 5th Generation Video Highlights:
Hololive 6th Generation
The Hololive Generation 6 members (also called Secret Society HoloX) debuted in November 2021, and by the end of 2020 Hololive Productions had 10+ million subscribers on YouTube.
Hololive 6th Generation Lineup:
La+ Darkness – She’s from the underworld. La+ is overconfident, vain, childish, loud, and generally insufferable. She likes to dance, sing, and play videogames. La+ Darkness debuted on November 26th, 2021.
Takane Lui – She’s an executive officer. Lui is gentle, focused, friendly, and is everyone’s sensei. She likes to chitchat with other members, play videogames and sing. Takane Lui debuted on November 27th, 2021.
Hakui Koyori – She’s a coyote. Koyori is cheerful, sweet, unpredictable, and just a tiny bit improper . She loves to play videogames, roleplay, and sing. Hakui Koyori debuted on November 28th, 2021.
Sakamata Chloe – She’s an intern. Chloe is helpful, naïve, sweet, clumsy, and quirky. She loves to overshare (TMI) and is a great singer. Sakamata Chloe debuted on November 29th, 2021.
Kazama Iroha – She’s a bodyguard. Iroha is gentle, timid, playful, and absentminded. She loves to chitchat with other members, even though she gets taunted by others most of the time. She also sings and plays videogames. Kazama Iroha debuted on November 30th, 2021.
Random Hololive 6th Generation Video Highlights:
So, Why All The Fuss About VTubers?
If you are familiar with K-Pop or J-Pop idols, or are familiar with following popular YouTube gaming, cooking and ASMR channels, then you have an advantage when it comes to understanding the appeal of VTubers.
VTubers are essentially just entertainers, and entertainers help people to forget about life’s worries, or maybe get inspired, comforted, the list goes on. VTubing is just another form of entertainment, except that with VTubers there are a range of interesting personalities to choose from.
So next time you watch a PewdiePie or MrBeast Video, or any of the plethora of existing popular YouTube channels out there, remember that VTubers play the exact same role. I think Ami Yamato phrased it best when she said “… everyone is a persona of their true self… everyone’s virtual on YouTube”.
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