VTuber Legend: How I Went Viral after Forgetting to Turn Off My Stream – Episode 1

By: Alex Henderson July 8, 20240 Comments
Closeup of a cartoonishly shocked looking woman gripping a beer can in one hand

Content Warning: alcohol dependency played for comedy, sexual humor

What’s it about? Kokorone Awayuki is a Vtuber based on a pure, ladylike persona. She’s not getting a lot of attention, much less revenue… until one night she accidentally leaves her microphone on while she gets drunk, goofs around, and yells about how horny she is. 

There’s a lot of comedy gold and social commentary to mine from the concept of a performance persona being wildly different from the performer themself. We’ve seen it plenty with idol characters, from more serious takes like the entertainment industry critique that underpins Oshi no Ko, to sillier ones like the (dare I say classic) running gag from Lucky Star in which a cute-for-the-camera child actress becomes unhinged, grouchy, and violent when off-script. And well, Vtubers fall somewhat into that pop idol category even if the framework of their fame and fandom might operate a little differently, so it makes sense that a series would leap on that medium to explore similar material. As many real-life examples show, the juxtaposition between cute face and crass behavior can be the core appeal of a Vtuber, so Awayuki’s situation is hardly farfetched, either. My question as of its premiere is: what’s Vtuber Legend going to do with all this?

Among the goofs, there’s definitely potential to dig into some meaningful ideas, chief among them a conversation about the constraints of the expectations of traditional femininity. Awayuki finds a sense of unexpected freedom in kicking free of her “ladylike” behavior, yelling and swearing rather than staying soft and demure, and casting off her marketable “pure” persona to joke openly about sex and masturbation. I’d say “good for her!” if I wasn’t wary about how all this is going to be used as comedy fodder in the series itself. Awayuki, drunk and with no filter, gleefully announces that she thinks one of her fellow Vtubers as an adorable daughter, yet also wants to “rub one out” when seeing her on stream. Later, a fellow streamer candidly asks what her favorite lesbian porn tropes are, and Awayuki declares that she likes it when at least one of the actors looks uncomfortable. The chat goes wild. 

Awayuki sitting at a desk as if at a press conference, holding a beer can. Subtitle text reads: Girls who innocently say dirty things is my kink, okay?

So… Awayuki is attracted to women? Cool! Is that going to be explored in any nuanced and meaningful way, or is it going to be treated as one of her hilariously unladylike traits and used as the vessel for a series of increasingly crass jokes? Worse, is it going to be played for audience titillation (both in-universe for her chat and for us, the real-life audience watching this anime) as she encourages viewers to ship her with her scantily-clad Vtuber senpai? Is there going to be any payoff to this, or is it just for the views?

Equally troubling is the “unladylike trait” that kicks this whole mess off: Awayuki’s alcohol consumption. Unfiltered, she waxes poetic about how she loves nothing more than a drink, and we get to see her slam down multiple, multiple cans a night, with a classic cinematic shot showing that her fridge is essentially empty except for beer. It wrecks her inhibitions and she blacks out, waking up hungover, sick, and miserable the next morning… until she gets the news about her spike in viewership, of course. Her agency is all too happy for her to keep getting wasted online—in fact, her manager actively encourages it. 

Awayuki drifting across her bedroom. Subtitle text reads: Not to mention the depression...

With the big boss banking on Awayuki getting off-her-face wasted every night, I highly doubt she’s going to get any kind of support for what definitely sounds and looks like substance addiction. But then again, I highly doubt the show itself is going to acknowledge her alcoholism as a problem—not when it leads to such “funny” moments. I’d love to be proven wrong, but, as with the sexuality stuff above, I predict the story will keep riding her drunken shenanigans for cheap jokes rather than addressing this in any meaningful way. I find the “this sad twenty-something woman is drunk all the time!” trope to be a bit tasteless at the best of times, so a series that uses it as the crux of its whole plot was never going to get me on side.

Which is a shame, because I want to believe that Vtuber Legend could use its zany set-up to dig into some interesting commentary about femininity, parasocial fandom, and the marketable personas we create for ourselves—comedy, after all, can be the sharpest tool for serious critique. But as of this premiere I’m not hopeful. If all you want is a show that revels in the contrast between pretty anime character designs and gross characterization, hey, you might have a good time. I find it all to be a little shallow and in poor taste. 

Still, as long as this show never turns around and tries to sell us NFTs, it’s doing better than the last anime about Vtubers that came out. 

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