Gura and Ame shine in The Fish Tank

One of the biggest challenges for any streamer is keeping their constant flow of work feeling fresh and interesting to a diverse, fickle and easily bored audience.

This is especially true for VTubers, who have an endless stream of work to do to keep their audience watching once the initial novelty of their visual design wears off. And most professional VTubers do a great job of this — very few of them confine themselves to just a single type of stream, and even within their gaming streams they often mix things up between crowd-pleasers like Minecraft and more niche-interest, specialist titles that fit their own tastes.

One of the hardest-working VTubers in terms of creativity and variety is Hololive English’s Amelia Watson. Ever since her debut stream, in which she injected her audience with “the Watson Concoction” and enthralled everyone with a thoroughly hallucinogenic few minutes, Ame has been constantly experimenting with format, special features for her streams, audience participation and collaborations with her peers.

Ame’s latest experiment is The Fish Tank, a collaborative, conversational stream with her peer from Hololive English’s first generation, Gawr Gura. The show (which is named after the fish tank seen in the background of Ame’s regular streams, into which Super Chat notifications fall) is positioned as a “podcast”, but the pilot episode Ame and Gura put together features a number of visual elements, too, so it makes good use of the video format as well as providing some fun conversation to listen in on — and feel like you’re a part of, if you happened to catch it live.

Even though Ame clearly wanted the stream to feel like a fun, casual conversation between friends — as most podcast producers seem to aim for these days — it’s clear that she put a lot of effort into the production of the show. She had custom backgrounds, she invited contributions from the audience via social media prior to the show’s broadcast, she had topics lined up to debate with Gura — and the ability for the audience to vote on who they thought was more convincing if they were watching live — and plenty of ideas to keep the conversation flowing.

While both Gura and Ame initially seemed a little shy, if anything — surprising, given that they’ve both enjoyed considerable success to date as well as demonstrated a marked improvement in their own entertaining skills — they soon settled into their respective roles, and a pleasingly calm, relaxed sense of genuine friendship and enjoyment of one another’s company set in before long.

The Fish Tank

It helped that Ame had arranged an excellent icebreaker activity doubtless designed to poke fun at the gigantic industry that is makeup VTubers; she had set up a special “dressing room” set for her and Gura to do one another’s makeup… using an extremely basic set of Microsoft Paint-quality drawing tools. The results were, as you can probably imagine, rather wonderful.

Gura and Ame complement one another wonderfully; while Gura is more obviously energetic than Ame in terms of the way she speaks, she’s also endearingly humble. At one point in the conversation where Ame pointed out that Gura is the second most popular VTuber in the world after the legendary Kizuna Ai, Gura seemed almost embarrassed that it was mentioned. One gets the distinct impression that Gura is still a little shell-shocked from her meteoric rise to online stardom over the course of the last half a year and is keen to just come across as the same good-natured, cheerful shark she always has been. Only now she has cat ears, obviously.

Ame, meanwhile, speaks to her audience (and Gura) like the big sister we all wish we had, occasionally slipping absolutely baffling statements into her conversation as a matter of fact. At one point during their discussion in The Fish Tank, Ame mentions that she’d “ordered a bunch of moss” online, but does not elaborate on exactly why she had done so; anyone who has seen the clip of her complaining that her “tiddy hurts” before concluding that it was “probably because [she] got electrocuted earlier” will not be surprised by this side of her personality.

In a callback to her recent “#AmeTag” stream, during which she suggested a bunch of hashtags for her fans to contribute various pieces of fanart and other pieces of media for her to feature on a special social media-centric stream, Ame revealed partway through The Fish Tank that she had arranged for some special “legs” art for both her and Gura, allowing for the illusion that the pair of them were putting their feet up on the desk. Both of them — and the audience — found this absolutely hilarious, though Gura feigned a certain amount of indignance at how her “legs were wide open, not crossed like a lady”, while Ame’s stockinged feet looked thoroughly refined.

The stream continued with Ame and Gura critiquing photographs of bedrooms that the audience had sent in, though the pair admitted afterwards that they had “expected to see more unmade beds”. During this sequence, one viewer threw an astonishing $300 at the pair through YouTube’s Super Chat donation system in appreciation for featuring their photo — and acknowledging their CRT television and life-size Amelia Watson cardboard cutout. If anyone would like to give me $300 for looking at a photograph of their television, please let me know; I’m certain we can arrange something.

The pair wrapped up the show with a “debate” sequence, during which Gura had to argue in favour of large breasts, while Ame had to argue in favour of flat chests. Gura, despite being a tad on the small side herself — and perfectly happy with that, thank you very much — put across a convincing argument; in response to Ame’s argument that flat chests are more “aerodynamic” she noted “that’s a bunch of baloney; it’s just a big ol’ word, and you know what I’d rather have at the end of the day instead of a big ol’ word? I’d rather have a big ol’ pair of biddies”. Quite.

It’s not clear whether or not Ame intends The Fish Tank to become a regular thing; early in the show she notes it’s “episode one of… one… maybe?”

But it’s clear from the audience’s response that it was one of her best ideas to date. Ame’s streams typically attract anywhere between 80,000 and 300,000 viewers in total (including those who watch after the stream has been archived online) depending on what she’s doing — but in less than 24 hours after The Fish Tank broadcast, it saw over 500,000 viewers. This puts it second only to the reveal of Ame’s new outfit (just shy of 850,000 viewers at the time of writing) in terms of popularity.

Some of that impressive number will doubtless be due to Gura’s presence on the show — Gura has more than twice Ame’s subscribers on YouTube, remember — but that’s what collaborations are all about, really. They provide multiple creators with an opportunity to introduce their audiences to one another — or to further cement a pre-established relationship. After The Fish Tank, it’s entirely possible — highly probable, even — that people who previously only watched one or the other of Ame and Gura will be more inclined to check out the other’s work now.

Here’s hoping Ame looks at those numbers and positive comments and decides to do this a bit more often — because it really was a delightfully entertaining couple of hours, and the format provides plenty of scope for some interesting and varied collaborations with other VTubers, both from Hololive English and beyond. Hell, I think at this point a lot of people would just be happy with a regular Gura and Ame show.

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Pete Davison
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