So lately, I’ve found a subset of Japanese culture called vtubers. This really wasn’t voluntary, and they confuse the snot out of me. As near as I can tell, they are different anime-like characters that are voiced and acted by real people, they have different personalities, and they stream. Like, a lot. And people seem to like them. A lot.
Now, let’s be clear: I understand this, a little bit. My favorite vtuber at the moment (and I hope I don’t watch enough of it to change my opinion, frankly) is Inugami Korone. The character is supposed to be a dog. A dog-girl. A doggo. Or something. Damned if I know. Occasionally the dog-girl does cute and funny things. Same with another named Luna. There was much confusion about how to say “OK Google”, and it was insanely cute. And sometimes, like the AKB48, etc., idols, they’ll let you in on a little of their real life, and I guess those things are good for otaku, and much for the same reason. I can sort of, a little, see the appeal, though I really have no intention of interacting with that community any more than I have – which is to say, watching random stream clips and laughing my butt off as, say, Korone falls over laughing at a bird sound. (HUUWAAAAAAAA) That is funny.
But people throw a lot of money at these characters. There seems to be a loyalty there that at least rivals that of idol groups such as AKB48. And, quite frankly, that I just don’t get. They just stream and act silly – or sometimes, frankly, lewd. Maybe that’s worth a few bucks every now and then, but sometimes people throw hundreds of dollars at those characters, and what for?
It’s not just vtubers, though. For some reason, Japanese media and culture seem to encourage unhealthy, and frankly obsessive behavior Who wants to throw hundreds of dollars at a vtuber? Who wants to buy hundreds of AKB48 CDS just to have tickets to vote in the senbatsu sousenkyou? How about considering anime or other characters their actual girlfriend, or referring to them as waifu? I’m confused. And I think I’d rather be confused, because if I understood this, I’d just be sad. There’s some cultural undercurrents here that I’m just not sure I think I’m better off just letting be.
Different strokes for different folks, I suppose, but this obsession is, frankly, just a bit too close to actual mental illness for comfort. So I guess I’ll let Korone entertain me if I see something particularly amusing come by on YouTube. But I think that’ll be the extent of it. I’m just not impressed with the culture. Not even a little bit. And if I ever start to get anywhere near that obsessive, I hope someone slaps me. So far, so good.