6 months of Hololive English: happiness is more than a myth

VTuber group Hololive English -Myth-, also known variously as HoloEN and HoloMyth, has just celebrated its six month anniversary, demonstrating that there is very much a market for English VTubers — and that people are hungry for the kind of wholesome, friendly and cheerful entertainment they offer.

Hololive English first launched in September of 2020, when the world was already deep into the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many people were immediately struck by what positive presences these five new VTubers were. Lockdown blues were getting to everyone and it was starting to feel like there was no escape — and then along came these delightful characters to tell us everything was going to be all right, and that even if it wasn’t all right, we would at least have some soothing, uplifting company to help us through.

Hololive English VTubers

For many people, Hololive English was their first encounter with VTubers. Although certain Asian VTubers such as Hololive’s Inugami Korone and Kiryu Coco have both enjoyed and embraced worldwide popularity, this was the first time that a VTuber agency as large as Hololive had deliberately courted the English-first — or English-only — market. Prior to Hololive English’s arrival, initiatives such as the Indonesian HoloID had incorporated more in the way of English-speaking streams, but a lot of English-first or English-only speakers had, for one reason or another, not been aware of this talent.

The weekend that each of the Hololive English girls debuted, we got a good understanding of what each of these VTubers was all about — though over time, many of them would end up subverting expectations somewhat, and some even embraced the contrast between the first impression they might put across and their actual personality. So in celebration of the girls’ six-month anniversary, let’s look at the enduring appeal of each of them.

Calliope Mori

Trainee reaper Calliope Mori’s debut introduced us to a VTuber who one would be forgiven for assuming would be a complete edgelord, but who actually turned out to be an endearingly dorky individual.

Calli’s charm comes from the fact that she never quite sounds comfortable coming out with things that “the kids” might say such as Internet slang and references to memes, but this really works for her character. As someone supposedly from the underworld trying to fit in with society on Earth, this is exactly the level of awkwardness I’d expect to see.

Don’t mistake awkwardness for ineptitude, a lack of talent or low intelligence, though; Calli is a highly capable performer who knows how to get the “crowd” going, and thanks to her Japanese skills, is also very inclusive to her Asian audience, in a pleasing inverse of how the aforementioned Korone and Coco make an effort to include their English-speaking fans.

Calli’s real genius comes from the fact that she deliberately and wilfully contrasts the dorky awkwardness of her conversation in her streams with the absolute fire she spits in her musical numbers. Right from the release of her first song “Excuse My Rudeness, But Could You Please RIP”, it became clear that Calli was a talented musician — and that this was an aspect of performance that she was keen to continue exploring through her work with Hololive English.

The other thing a lot of people have found extremely appealing about Calli over time is the way she interacts with her fellow Hololive English member Takanashi Kiara. A lot of the pair’s interactions are clearly playing up for the “camera”, but there certainly seems to be a significant amount of genuine affection between the two of them, since they frequently collaborate, flirt on Twitter and joke about being jealous any time the other is seen interacting or collaborating with another VTuber.

Takanashi Kiara

For some, Takanashi Kiara is an acquired taste. Right from her debut, her loud voice, energetic personality and commitment to the “mythological” side of her character meant that if you weren’t immediately on board with what she had to offer, you’d either bounce off hard, never to return — have to make an effort to enjoy her work.

Variety is the 15 secret herbs and spices of life, though, and those willing to spend some time with Kiara will have discovered one of the most enthusiastic, passionate performers in the Hololive English lineup. Kiara is clearly incredibly grateful for the opportunity Hololive English has provided her with, and despite her commitment to the phoenix “bit”, she is also the one out of all the girls who has spoken the most openly, honestly and candidly about her feelings — both positive and negative.

Unsurprisingly, this means that Kiara has successfully cultivated a fun but understanding, supportive and empathetic fanbase who are keen to see her succeed. While she has had more than her fair share of struggles since her debut — including her YouTube channel being, on various occasions, temporarily terminated for reasons unknown as well as “shadowbanned” — she has always come bouncing back with just as much energy as before. Exactly what you’d expect from an always-online phoenix.

Kiara is keen to experiment and spread her wings with her performances. Since debuting, she has released two official music videos as well as a collaborative cover version with Calli. She has launched her own Hololive “talk show” where she brings in other Hololive members from around the world. And she has even experimented with streams entirely in her native German.

Like Calli, Kiara is an incredibly inclusive performer who understands that she wouldn’t be where she is today without the hard work of her senpais in previous generations of Hololive — and without the Asian fans. To that end, she makes a real effort to perform most of her streams at the very least bilingually, speaking in both English and Japanese. Early in her career, she encountered some resistance to this, but she remained admirably committed to her desire to remain inclusive — and it’s paid off in the long term.

Ninomae Ina’nis

Right from her debut, it was clear that Ninomae Ina’nis, or Ina as she is more commonly known, would be “the quiet one”. This isn’t a criticism by any means — in fact, her chilled-out, deliberately “comfy” nature makes her a nice contrast to Kiara’s high-energy performances and Calli’s dorkiness.

An Ina stream is where you go when you want to relax and be soothed by the soft voice of a betentacled horror from beyond time and space as she doodles, talks about artistic techniques and enjoys some of the more cerebral side of gaming. In the latter case, you’ll want to hit up Ina’s gaming streams if you’re interested in artsy indie games, because they’re seemingly something she enjoys quite a bit.

A fun part of Ina’s appeal is how she doesn’t make a big deal about her character design — it’s just who she is, and she’s easy to accept into your life. Very occasionally, she may call on the support of her “tentacles” to “hold” things in the stream, but for the most part she just gets on with things without getting too involved in the “character” side of things. This makes her ideal for those who watch VTubers for their personalities rather than their supposed “backstories”.

She’s also an incredible artist, and this was clear right from her debut. A significant proportion of her streams consist of her drawing things, talking through her process and encouraging her audience to try things for themselves. While her talent can often feel somewhat humbling, many of her fans have already told her that the friendly and inclusive nature of her art streams has actually inspired them to pick up their pencils again for the first time in many years — for an artist, there are few compliments more potent than that.

Gawr Gura

Gura is absolutely the runaway success story of Hololive English, being the first to break not only the one million subscriber mark on YouTube, but onwards to nearly two and a half million at the time of writing.

Her success can be attributed to a few things: her delightful character design, her perpetually cheerful personality… and, of course, the memes. The second “a” became a thing, everyone knew that Gura was going to be a big hit… which just goes to show how absurd the Internet can be sometimes.

For the unfamiliar, “a” stems from a couple of places: firstly, the fact that Gura’s first ever tweet on September 9, 2020 was just the letter “a” — whether accidental or deliberately, we’ll probably never know — and also from the fact that when Ina introduced her towards the end of her debut, she listed the fact that Gura was “a shark” on two separate bullet points — one for “a” and one for “SHARK!!!!!”. Since then, “a” has become something of a catchphrase; Gura herself has even started a number of streams by simply popping up and saying “a”.

Gura’s appeal comes from the fact that she comes across as an energetic and enthusiastic younger sister in terms of personality — but one who occasionally surprises you with the things that she knows and is capable of. Her music game streams in particular are gobsmacking — though sadly she’s run into copyright and licensing disagreements with some music game publishers and distributors over time, meaning some of her most impressive play sessions are lost to the mists of time now!

Despite her success, Gura never seems to have let fame go to her head; watching her streams today, she’s still the same friendly little shark sister she’s always been, only now she has over two million people following her channel. And that’s just one of many reasons people love her.

Amelia Watson

Out of all of the Hololive English girls, Amelia Watson was probably the one no-one quite knew what to think of after her exceedingly memorable debut. A significant proportion of said debut, lest we forget, involved Ame injecting the “Watson Concoction” into the audience and then proceeding to take everyone on a ten-minute virtual hallucinogenic trip while making incoherent squeaky noises and giggling like a child.

After that surprising introduction, Amelia quickly established herself as the reliable older sister of the group, often hosting pleasantly comfy and relaxed streams with a slightly different vibe to them than what Ina offered. Notably, she often encouraged her audience to talk about things like their dreams and the things that were bothering them, and in that way helped to foster a mutually supportive community that wasn’t afraid to have a bit of fun now and again.

On the gaming front, out of all the Hololive girls, Ame is the one most likely to be seen playing more “mainstream” titles — particularly those with a multiplayer angle. There’s an extremely appealing contrast between her supportive, gentle “older sister” personality and the “gamer” side that comes out when she’s playing competitively — and she also clearly has a talent for providing commentary on esports, too.

Again, like her peers, Ame makes an effort to be inclusive — while she’s good at quite a few of the games she shows off, she never suggests that people might be “inferior” to her, or that someone might be incapable of developing their own skills. In fact, on several occasions she’s taken other, less gaming-inclined Hololive English members through some of her favourite games — and the results have been highly enjoyable to witness.

Ame also enjoys involving her community in her streams; she’s hosted a large number of “watchalong” streams for well-known movies, and often sets “homework” for discussion in future videos. If you enjoy getting involved, Ame’s streams are the place to be.

One thing is universally appealing about all of the Hololive English girls: they are positive, happy and friendly, and this is something the Internet can, at times, feel woefully short of. Amid the sea of negative, cynical videos featuring bearded white dudes making Macaulay Culkin faces at video games on YouTube, a Hololive English video is always a pleasure to see — and always something nice to put on in the background if you feel like you want a bit of “company”.

In order to celebrate the six-month anniversary of the Hololive English girls, Hololive has put out a bunch of merchandise including acrylic stands, keyrings and plushies which you can find here. On top of that, there’s a soundtrack album featuring image tunes inspired by the personalities of each of the Hololive English girls, which can be purchased or streamed here.

Here’s to six more months of our girls entertaining us, supporting us, comforting us and keeping us sane in these trying times!

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Pete Davison
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