Art Culture International Lifestyle

Malaysia’s latest internet stars are… virtual anime avatars?

We’re pretty sure y’all would already know that the Internet can be a pretty toxic place. You may have seen people bashing strangers online, spreading rumors (or fake news), the famous cancel culture and even spreading hate. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at our Facebook comments.

And almost everyone can kena this type of toxicity. Just recently, we came across one as we were browsing thru the r/VirtualYoutubers subreddit. Apparently, a Virtual YouTuber (VTuber) was harassed on their personal Twitter account by a random person who asked them to quit VTubing. The typical response to this would be attacking the harasser on their personal account but what the VTuber community on Reddit requested tho was to give the aforementioned VTuber supportive and encouraging messages instead. #faithinhumanityrestored

While this story is pretty heartwarming, what actually caught our attention was how this particular VTuber is… Malaysian! Not only are they Malaysian, it appears that this VTuber, Valyria Starfyre, is also mute.

Hold on a sec. VTuber?? In Malaysia??? 

Well, fret not. We’ve gotten in touch with Valyria (and several other VTubers #spoiler #ihatecilisos) to find out more about VTubers in Malaysia.

And one of the first things we learnt was how…

 

Valyria wanted to create content that would help people go thru tough times

If there is one thing everyone around the world could agree on about the global pandemic, it would be that it is causing us more stress. And there are plenty of ways to deal with it. For some people like Valyria, it was watching content made by VTubers.

Chup, we kept throwing the VTtubers around like nobody’s business but what on earth is it anyway??

See, just like your regular YouTubers, VTubers produce video content such as vlogs (video logs), ASMR, stream games and even live videos, among others. The only difference is that you don’t get to see their real self but rather an animated character on the screen. 

So, for instance, instead of seeing Valyria’s real face, you’d see this…

Valyria. Img from @ValStarfyre Twitter

And if kawaii anime girls is what’s on your mind right now when we say VTubers, well, you’re not wrong. A quick Google Image search brought us to endless photos of anime girls, who are VTubers. But we can’t help but to point out that VTubers can also look like this…

Meet Ami Yamato, the very first Vtuber in the world. Img from Ami Yamato YouTube

…this…

Barbie is also considered a Vtuber. Gif from Chester Jerold’s Pinterest

…and even this…

One of Malaysian VTubers, Flaming Cygnet. Img from [CygNetworks Virtual Channel] YouTube

And it was thanks to VTubers like Ovalee, Hiiro and Shuvi, among many other Vtubers, Valyria then decided in June 2020 to become one. Together with the help of a friend, who created a virtual model for them, Valyria was pretty much ‘born’.

I became a VTuber because I was inspired by how often they (other VTubers) always made people on their streams smile and help them go through every day throughout this ‘eventful’ year of 2020.” – Valyria to CILISOS.

Valyria told us that unlike other VTubers, they would mostly stream games like Minecraft and Genshin Impact besides showcasing their artworks on Twitch. But wait, how do Valyria communicate with their viewers if they’re mute?

“Streaming games or my art allows me to still interact with my audience although it’s only through text. I am trying to find tools like speech to text which may help.” – Valyria.

Being mute doesn’t really stop Valyria from producing content because they do have fans who enjoy their content. At the time of writing, Valyria has 1,200 followers on Twitch.

And because there is such a demand for VTubers, we also learnt that Valyria isn’t the only VTuber in Malaysia. There are about 100 of them and they even have a community called MyVT

As if that’s not enough…

 

There is even an official agency to jaga VTubers in Malaysia!

So, as it turns out, VTubers aren’t exactly new in Malaysia. In fact, the VTubing scene in Malaysia somewhat began in 2015. According to a list of Malaysian VTubers, there are three OG VTubers in Malaysia and lucky for us, we managed to get in touch with one of them, Supparider.

One fun fact about Supparider is how he became a VTuber even before knowing the term itself!

“I started doing art on Twitch “Creative” around July 2015. And made a live2D facerig of my character at the end of 2016 to be used as an avatar for my stream. I only knew about the Vtuber from my friend Eisu, who is also a VTuber, last year and decided to upgrade my live2D avatar to a 3D avatar.” – Supparider to CILISOS.

Unlike Valyria, Supparider mainly commissions his art. Img from Supparider Devian Art

And as we dug deeper into this community, we learnt that there is an agency – possibly the only agency in Malaysia btw – that is responsible in the production and development VTubers and their content. It’s called MYHolo TV and, oddly enough, it’s pretty new

That probably has something to do with how the VTuber scene in Malaysia has only recently bloomed la. We talked to MYHolo TV about this and we were told that…

“We noticed that the VTuber scene started blooming when COVID-19 hit Malaysia in March 2020.” – MYHolo TV.

While MYHolo TV may function like any other talent agencies out there, it’s noteworthy that MOST, if not all, Malaysian VTubers are pretty independent. Both Valyria and Supparider are not under any agencies at the moment tho the former would be keen to be under one in the future. 

In fact, MYHolo TV only has ONE talent at the moment called Liliana Vampaia (Lili). Just like Valyria, Lili debuted in June 2020 after auditioning with MYHolo TV. 

Lili. Img courtesy from MYHolo TV

Speaking of auditions, MYHolo TV shared that it normally conducts two auditions in a year. In fact, one session is currently ongoing as we speak. So, for all you weebs peeps who are interested to become VTubers or who wanna be a YouTuber but too shy to be on camera, here’s your chance.

It’s supereasy to be a VTuber, according to the criteria set by MYHolo TV la, because you only need to be consistent in creating your content, whichever content that is. You don’t even have to create your virtual model as the agency would provide such services for you. You can check out more audition deets here and here. #notsponsored

With so many VTubers making their debuts one after another, one would think that there is so much demand for this kinda content. However…

 

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Malaysians are generally just NOT into this kinda content 🙁

Ok we know earlier we said that there are demands for VTubers’ content but MYHolo TV noted that Malaysians in general aren’t really interested in this kinda content and genre.

“Currently it’s (acceptance) low in Malaysia as the VTuber culture is still quite niche here as compared to other countries such as Japan, Korea, and China.”- MYHolo TV.

Well, duh, cos the culture was started by a Japanese called Ami Yamato anyways. And it became a hit in Japan in 2018 when the number of VTubers in Japan grew tremendously to 4,000 within two and a half months! One of Japan’s most famous VTuber, Kizuna Ai, has over 2 MILLION followers(!). Walaowei, Kizuna has more followers than some of these Malaysian YouTubers.

Kizuna was even elected as Japan’s Tourism Ambassador.ヽ(°〇°)ノ Img from Tokyo Otaku Mode News

Unfortunately, Malaysian VTubers don’t only have to deal with low acceptance by the general Malaysian but also discouraging and hate comments that come in various forms. Valyria, for example, had a fair share of this experience when some random Twitter account blatantly told them to quit VTubing.

Thankfully, Valyria had the support from the VTuber community throughout this tough time.

I want to thank everybody in the community for always being so positive and supportive of growing VTubers like me.” – Valyria.

But Valyria also pointed out how discouragement can also come from family members too as VTubing doesn’t really guarantee stability of income. Speaking of which, Valyria also noted that financial issues besides juggling streaming and studies or work can be a pretty huge challenge for VTubers, especially if VTubers don’t have other jobs outside of VTubing.

Lili, on the other hand, shared that finding things to talk about while livestreaming can be challenging as she is quite shy. She also finds that playing games, talking while managing chats and managing the livestream software at the same time can be pretty challenging too. But just like Valyria, Lili has really supportive fans called Tomatosans

In addition, MYHolo TV is keen in changing the level of acceptance of Vtubing in Malaysia. One way the agency is doing this is by introducing Lili, who as of now, has about 12,500 subscribers on YouTube. 

The agency also aims to connect local Vtubers to Japan’s anime and Vtubers. One thing it has done so far is through a virtual event collaboration with Animangaki, one of Malaysia’s largest animation, comic and game conventions. 

Animangaki that was held in 2016. Img from The Star

So with that being said, maybe there is hope for the VTuber community in Malaysia. And if you’re reading this and thinking ‘OMG this is my time to shine’, then here’s an advice from Lili.

“Be your own unique version of yourself. That’s what gives the VTubing world more variety and, thus, adds more fun to the experience. Other than that, know your goal. Be open-minded and never stop learning. Then work your way up to achieve it. If your goal is too general, make it more specific. It makes it easier because it makes you more focused!” – Lili to CILISOS.

At the end of the day, VTubers are more than just your typical anime characters la. They are real and legit content creators like your regular YouTubers, influencers or even us at CILISOS. And maybe it’s time they’re treated as such.

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