What Is A VTuber?
With the innovations in AI, the rise of the metaverse, and the growing technology in the world of virtual reality, we are heading toward a future of complete automation at a meteoric pace. And what better embodiment do we have of that than the world of VTubers?
The term VTuber was originally an abbreviation of the term “virtual YouTuber”, but has quickly evolved into something much greater than just a form of YouTube content. VTubers use a computer-generated avatar that is mapped to their face (and sometimes even body) to mimic their every move as opposed to just having a face cam. This means that their avatar can literally be anything or anyone. VTubers typically like to remain anonymous and the fact that VTubers can remain faceless and completely incognito means that almost anyone with a webcam can build a platform.
In recent years VTubers have become more popular in the live-streaming world than YouTube content creation and you can find VTubers telling stories, hosting Q&As, playing video games, making music, literally anything you could do normally as a live streamer. These virtual content creators have thriving communities with emotes inside jokes and the works. Many of them use stream overlays for VTubers which make their layouts similar to any real life streamer you might come across. What once started out as a niche on YouTube can be found everywhere from TikTok to Twitter to Twitch.
Where Did This Trend Start?
Of course, while it may feel like it, the VTuber trend didn’t just come out of nowhere. The idea of having a virtual character in place of a human but representing a human everywhere is not some new phenomenon. The “virtual” British TV show host Max Headroom fooled thousands of viewers across the UK into believing that he really was an AI-generated show host when in actuality he was just an actor wearing thick prosthetic makeup under harsh lighting and a distorted backdrop all the way back in 1985 to give the illusion that he was AI-generated. While this is not an actual example of a VTuber it was the beginning of the idea that would eventually become VTubers as they are known today.
Then in 2007, more popularly, the avatar of Hatsune Miku grew massively in popularity and was performing as a projected hologram. Fast forward four more years to 2011 and you have London-based vlogger Ami Yamato creating videos using a virtual avatar as opposed to her own face. So, yes VTubers are exploding in popularity right now, but this technology didn’t just pop up one day and the ability to almost physically become your avatar isn’t something that people have wanted recently, it’s been brewing for years.
VTuber Hotaru Hikari’s Reference Sheet
Image via Twitter
So What’s A Furry VTuber?
So, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with furries. Well, like every community, there are sub-communities and it just so happens that the furry fandom has made its mark in the wider VTuber community. But what does it mean to be a furry VTuber? Don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you here.
For one, possibly the greatest thing about being part of the furry fandom is having your very own fursona, and what better way to celebrate that than literally becoming your fursona as a VTuber? That’s right, furry VTubers are just furries who have mapped a 3D model of their fursona to their face, or sometimes it’s just a sound-responsive image that will slightly move when the user speaks. Regardless, furry VTubers use their fursonas as a means of remaining anonymous while also being able to express themselves and build a platform and community for others.
It has become a super common form of content creation within the furry fandom as it saves so much time that would typically be spent animating individual frames that they would usually use in an animated video. In addition to this, animated-style videos don’t translate super well to live streaming, but with the help of VTubers, this problem has been completely solved.
Who Are The Most Popular Furry VTubers?
If you’re looking to take the plunge into the world of furry VTubers but you aren’t sure where to start, there are a bunch of amazing content creators that you should definitely check out and we’ll cover them here. And not to gatekeep, but we’re not talking just your standard VTuber avatars with some cat ears on them, we’re talking about the VTubers out there with full-blown fursonas.
Firstly there’s Kris Yim or better known by his Twitch alias imkrisyim. He was first an animator and is now a VTuber who you can find playing everything from the latest God of War to the newest season of Fortnite or sometimes just telling a story about something that has happened in his life. With over 43.4K followers on Twitch, he is likely the biggest furry VTuber out there and it shows in the quality of the content he puts out.
There are also content creators such as Lordmau5 who are perfect for those of you looking for a cozier and much more personal chat with the streamer. There isn’t as much hustle and bustle in Lordmau5’s chat (no offense) as there is in Kris Yim’s which leaves a lot more opportunity to talk to him. You can find him playing games like GTA San Andreas or Goat Simulator 3 if that’s the kind of thing you are looking for.
Finally, you should definitely check out creators like BetaEtaDelota if you’re not really looking for a live streamer and want some quality editing instead. If you’ve ever seen videos by Youtubers like QuackityHQ or Pyrocynical, then you’ll probably be pretty familiar with the format that they operate on. They are semi-commentary, semi-“informational” videos that are just a little bit of light-hearted fun.
Of course, there are different strokes for different folks and there are hundreds more creators out there that make equally as good content but these are just our favorite picks.
Furry VTuber Chester’s Avatar
Image via im kris
Why Are VTubers So Popular?
One thing that certainly gave the VTubing world a bit of a boost was the whole 2020 pandemic thing. With everyone locked indoors, and chronically online, everyone was looking for something to do. Whether it was to start creating content of their own or looking for new types of content to watch, VTubers finally had an opportunity to shine.
VTubers were already relatively popular in Japan before this though, so this moment of mass online connectivity greater than we’d ever seen before allowed Japan to bridge the gap between their content and the western world. As well as this, VTubers also caught the attention of many anime fans as many of the avatars are modeled after popular anime characters. This allowed VTubers to go even further in breaking boundaries between standard modern entertainment and innovative new methods of content creation.
Also, as mentioned before, it allows people who would otherwise be uncomfortable showing their faces to be an entertainer to actually pursue what they want to do without sacrificing their comfort. This makes being a VTuber so appealing as it allows practically anyone to build a platform.
3D Furry VTuber Model
Image via ArtStation
Who Is The Most Popular VTuber Overall?
Now obviously, furry VTubers are more of a niche within the broader VTuber community, so it would be hard to be both a furry VTuber and the most popular VTuber overall. So who is the most popular VTuber in the world? Well, we’ll split it up into two platforms as the most popular on Twitch and the most popular on Youtube are completely different. The most popular VTuber on Twitch would likely have to go to Shylily. With over 900,000 followers, Shylily is a streamer who has built up a huge fanbase through the Just Chatting category on Twitch as well as their Genshin Impact gameplay and ASMR.
In the world of YouTube, however, the VTuber Gawr Gura takes the cake for the most popular. Boasting over 4.25 million subscribers, Gawr Gura gained this popularity through a variety of different styles of content. From ASMR to original animations to song covers, Gawr Gura can do it all. Above all though, what really got her this traction was her Minecraft and GTA V live streams which kept fans engaged if you check out her content page she doesn’t actually have that many videos to her name.
Furry VTuber Model By NekuroSilver
Image via DeviantArt
Are They Safe For Kids To Watch?
A big question surrounding the VTuber community right now, especially the furry VTuber community, is whether or not they are family-friendly or rather should parents be allowing their kids to watch them. The furry fandom already gets a bad wrap as it is, so, when you combine this with the VTuber community which in itself seems to have this weird stigma surrounding it, it’s understandable that parents would be concerned about their children watching them.
What is probably the best advice for parents looking to mediate what their children are watching is to vet what they are watching first. It’s virtually impossible to say that all furry VTubers (or VTubers in general) are safe for children to watch, the same way it is impossible to say that all furry VTubers are not safe for your children to watch. Especially in the case of live streams where it is impossible to censor or moderate perfectly, you should be checking out if the stream is generally clean before you start showing it to children rather than just assuming that all furry VTubers are or aren’t safe to watch.
Mochas VTuber Model
Image via Reddit
How Can I Make A Furry VTuber Of My Own?
For those of you looking to get a furry VTuber of your own commissioned, there are a few ways of going about it. Getting a VTuber commissioned isn’t always as easy as just someone throwing together a quick sketch and sending it to you. Sometimes it can require actual 3D modeling and rigging before it can be used in a video. However, below we have listed a few ways to easily get your VTuber made.
Etsy: If you’re looking for an easily accessible means of getting a VTuber avatar commissioned, then Etsy is the one for you. You have the luxury of being able to browse multiple sellers if you aren’t happy with one or the other. Granted, due to Etsy’s tax, sellers tend to charge quite a bit more on Etsy and Fiverr than other services that are designed specifically for commissioning VTuber avatars.
VTuberArt: When talking about services designed specifically for commissioning VTuber avatars, VTuberArt is the first that comes to mind as it is one of the most reliable out there. If you are looking to get an affordable commission, then VTuber art is the way forward for you.
Fiverr: Much like Etsy, Fiverr is a super great pick for those of you who want variety in your options. If you don’t want to be limited to just one artist, Fiverr has hundreds of sellers looking for a gig right now. However, the only downside, much like Etsy again is that sellers tend to charge more as Fiverr take a split of the money they make.