Hololive has been a constant presence in my peripheral vision for the past year or so. I mean I’m the editor for a website’s anime section; clips of a fox making questionable sounds and a dragon pawning off drugs were bound to make their way in front of me eventually. From that cultural osmosis alone I knew that I never wanted to get into it but not because I wouldn’t like it, because I knew it would utterly consume me if I waded in any further than my ankles.
I used the excuse that Hololivers were primarily in Japanese to keep myself away from them, even if I can somewhat understand the language. So when hololive English, or holomyth, was announced I saw that safeguard instantly evaporate. At that point I relegated myself to diving into their debut streams and, unsurprisingly, got hooked. What has surprised me, however, is how I am enjoying their streams without reservation. Unlike say my love-hate relationship to gacha games, hololive — or more specifically holomyth — has been nothing but a positive force in my life for the week and a half I’ve engaged with it.
For those that read this far and don’t know what hololive is you can check out our latest podcast episode to get the details, including breakdowns of the new holomyth members. Suffice to say they are a group of virtual YouTubers — 56 to be exact — that all operate under the hololive umbrella. They use Live2D animated models of original anime girls and adopt various personas to host different streams be that playing video games, singing karaoke, or just chatting.
And what a variety it has been! Part of the fun of following the holomyth members has been the fact that you never quite know what to expect from them. Sure there is a very short-term schedule you can view and sure some members are more inclined to one type of stream than others, but every so often you see Kiara post a slot titled nothing but “Egg is broken. Heart is too,” and suddenly I don’t know what’s real anymore. It’s this kind of surprise and delight that I’ve been greeted to every morning when checking what kind of shenanigans they’ll be up to next, and it’s honestly been a much better jumpstart to my day than coffee has ever been.
The content of the streams alone aren’t what keep me coming back, though. If that were the case I would’ve been able to get into regular streamers long ago. It’s also the sense of camaraderie and interplay between the members that make their streams seem more like an over-arching narrative rather that just isolated microcosms. Nowhere is this more apparent than the hot-and-cold relationship between eternal phoenix Kiara and Death’s apprentice Calliope.
For someone whose past occupation was taking lives and guiding them to the underworld, it’s not difficult to see why a being who literally cannot die would get under Calli’s skin. Kiara, on the other hand, can’t get enough of River Styx’s guide. This dynamic was made readily obvious during their debut streams and has only gotten more zany as time has gone on and from further egging on by the community. Kiara rickrolling an exasperated Calli to convey her feelings had me in absolute stitches, for example. It’s a completely manufactured background, for sure, but it adds a constant throughline to their streams that make for fun treats to regular viewers.
That’s not to say everything about hololive is manufactured and fake, though. It’s not difficult to see the surface appeal of a cute anime girl putting on a show and interacting with a live audience but what shocked me about the English hololive members was just how much the human factor was still present.
It’s not easy to show vulnerability to anyone, much less to complete strangers. Yet Amelia demonstrated immense fortitude doing just that on her superchat opening stream. Getting the very broad strokes of her circumstances before hololive was both touching and heartbreaking, and was not a level of openness I was expecting less than a week after her debut. I’m not saying every Vtuber needs to unload their whole backstory to their audience, but this modest candidness is present amongst all the holomyth members and reminds us that there is a real person in front of the camera dedicated to improving themself.
And when one is dedicated to improving it’s difficult for that to not become infectious. I had long set down my pencil sets and more or less iced the little drawing skills I had, but damned if Ina’s drawing streams and incredibly helpful advice aren’t making me want to pick them back up! Similarly, Calli earnestly stumbling through WaniKani Japanese kanji reviews and JLPT practice tests has pushed me to renew my own WaniKani subscription. Finding inspiration in unlikely places at unlikely times is a powerful motivator, and it’s that kind of inspiration that holomyth has been providing.
The unlikely time aspect is something I want to emphasize too. Look, it’s no secret that 2020 has been a less than ideal year. In addition to my regular hobbies, I’ve tried different activities in an attempt to clear my head and take my mind off things but nothing really achieved that during these unique times. But then I watched Gura try to figure out how plugs and sockets work and suddenly my head just emptied. At the end of the day, the streams are just plain fun on top of everything else.
Since starting to follow holomyth I’ve felt more energized and motivated throughout my days. I know that sounds like some knockoff 24-Hour Energy sales pitch but it’s truly how I feel. Much like how Animal Crossing: New Horizons came at just the right time for many, chilling out to an Ina drawing stream or sweating it out to Gura playing Muse Dash was just what I needed. Hololive has been a welcome reprieve that provides a healthy dose of hope and jolliness that has been sorely missing from this year. Reality may keep on hitting but at least now, I feel like I can hit back.