Oops! VTuber Agency AkioAir Hires A Minor
Oh boy, here we go again. Another day, another VTuber company messed up big time. This time, it’s the Taiwanese agency AkioAir admitting they hired a minor girl as a VTuber. As someone who closely follows this scene, scandals like these no longer come as a surprise, but they still manage to disappoint.
I had actually heard of AkioAir before. They’re a relatively small agency, with only a handful of talents. It seemed like they were trying to expand this year, and some of their VTubers even caught my eye as rising stars. However, the whole company’s reputation is now tarnished due to this ill-advised decision.
When the news first broke, I observed the typical skepticism and confusion among people, with many wondering if it was real or just bizarre internet rumors. However, it turns out that AkioAir themselves confirmed it with a Tweet. They indeed hired a minor girl who goes by the name Nophi to be a VTuber for their company!
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AkioAir Hires a Minor
On September 6, 2023, AkioAir made an important announcement via Twitter regarding one of their talents — Nophillia Amelie de Montclair. The announcement disclosed that Nophillia was currently classified as a minor according to the legal standards of most jurisdictions worldwide. The reason given behind this notice release was to forbid making NSFW art around Nophilia and to safeguard her well-being, as they had chosen to bring her on board as a VTuber despite her young age.
Here is the Tweet:
As expected, the Tweet went viral, igniting a firestorm of reactions across the internet. Unsurprisingly, YouTube drama channels seized the opportunity and churned out multiple videos that rehashed every facet of the unfolding scandal – they were clearly aiming for those clickbait views. Accusations started to fly, with many pointing fingers at AkioAir for seemingly promoting content involving a minor.
Rapidly, this situation evolved into a full-fledged moral panic, a phenomenon all too common in the realm of online discourse. Everyone seemed determined to outdo each other in condemning AkioAir’s actions. Within the VTuber community, this incident reignited the debate on the critical issue of age verification. Questions abounded about how one can genuinely ascertain the ages of their beloved streamers. The concern grew that some might be lying or exaggerating their ages to fulfill virtual dreams, leading to a sense of paranoia where every high-pitched voice became a potential cause for suspicion.
In my opinion, this is quite an overreaction. The case of AkioAir hiring an actual young teenager is undoubtedly an outlier. However, the internet has a knack for blowing outliers out of proportion and turning them into what appear to be society-wide epidemics.
AkioAir Releases Statement
Following the intense backlash, AkioAir issued another statement on September 10 to address the issue. In their statement, they disclosed that the management team would now take over Nophi’s Twitter account and that she is expected to reach legal majority status in 2024. However, notably absent from the statement was any explanation or apology regarding their decision to hire a minor.
Here is the full statement:
In the face of considerable backlash, AkioAir made the controversial decision to proceed with the debut of their second group, AkioWater, on September 30. It’s worth noting that the debut of four out of the six members who were initially slated to debut alongside Nophi was delayed, with the official reason cited as “health reasons.” However, it becomes apparent that the real concern lay with the scandal, as they appeared hesitant to debut alongside AkioAir amid the ongoing controversy.
Shortly before the debuts of AkioWater, a new controversy rocked the VTuber scene. First-generation member Athena Nightingale dropped a bombshell, announcing her decision to sever ties with AkioAir, citing professional mismanagement and emotional abuse, which included threats of legal action from the CEO, Jason.
AkioAir swiftly responded with a statement of their own on the same day, officially terminating Athena’s contract and listing alleged breaches of her contract.
However, Jason’s ordeal didn’t conclude there. After the debut of AkioWater, Nophi, along with several other VTubers, released their own statements and chose to part ways with AkioAir. What was striking in all these statements was the recurring theme of unusual behavior attributed to their CEO, Jason.
From my perspective, it’s evident that AkioAir made significant missteps. The accounts from the VTubers in their statements give the impression that the CEO’s intentions may not have been entirely aligned with the best interests of the talent.
Hiring a minor, although a glaring mistake, did have a silver lining. It prompted the talents to recognize the company’s shortcomings and make the decision to move on. Hopefully, their future endeavors will be more rewarding and fulfilling.
I share your empathy for the artists who poured their creativity into character design, only to witness the company’s issues unfold. It’s disheartening to see their hard work seemingly go to waste.
On a more positive note, one can hope that this incident serves as a catalyst for the VTuber industry to reevaluate its hiring and vetting processes. As you rightly pointed out, this scandal, like many others in the internet realm, will eventually fade away. It’s crucial for agencies to be proactive in addressing potential issues, given the rapid growth of the VTuber scene. There’s always room for improvement in maintaining a safe and supportive environment.