Anyone hanging around the AniSphere recently has probably noticed an uptick in discussions about Virtual YouTubers, AKA v-tubers, and their unavoidable presence on social media platforms. While v-tubers initially became popular in recent years due to the introduction and popularity of the Kizuna A.I. Channel, the COVID-19 pandemic has vastly increased their presence as a topic of discussion, as well as a form of entertainment. Widely known groups such as Hololive and Nijisanji have continued popularizing the idea in Japan and overseas more and more every day, which has resulted in a cultural explosion across many regions of the world.
The idea of v-tubers has mostly been popularized by Hololive’s EN branch but has been popular since the introduction of v-tubers familiar with the English language. Because of these v-tuber talents primarily living in Japan and being backed by Japanese-based agencies, there have been various ways that the companies have decided to market them to different demographics across the globe. Each agency also handles its talents and branches differently by giving their management and talents varying levels of control, but also by having them under policies and conditions, as most businesses do. Of course, there also are a fair share of independent v-tubers that have borrowed ideas from these agencies and use them to create their own platforms, as well. There’s a whole spectrum of things to consider when it comes to being a virtual YouTuber talent in 2021.
Every now and then, the anime industry loves to poke fun at itself. Sometimes, this self-awareness from the industry is like Watamote (the real name is way too long to type), where it makes us uncomfortable with how accurate it is to our own awkward lives, basking in our memories of awkward situations and episodes, completely departing from realism to the chagrin of those around us. However, other times, the industry uses a softer approach, taking our wonderful memories of reveling in our nerd culture and both poking fun and celebrating their importance to us. Genshiken and Genshiken Nidaime are anime of this latter approach. Genshiken or, as it’s subtext defines it, The Study of Modern Visual Culture is a manga/anime about a college club of the same name and their experiences loving, hating, and discussing all of the merits of otaku culture. The series takes all of the games, anime, manga, etc. that we know (as well as some fakes ones it invented so wonderfully that they were spun off as their own anime) and takes pride in using their likeness for comedic and celebratory effect. In fact, a surprising thing from this series is that it doesn’t just parody other anime, games, manga, etc. with alternative names or other ways to get around copyright. For most references, the series straight up calls out the names of the anime and shows actual gameplay of certain games. Genshiken was always very upfront about what it referenced and used each name or character from a different series as a badge of honor, showing how the creators, like their readers, were also otaku of a high pedigree.