Hololive’s new English addition IRyS brings hope to a doomed world

Planet Earth pretty much sucks right now, doesn’t it? Between the global pandemic, the unpredictable climate that we might have done irreversible damage to, the people starving and suffering in poverty both close to home and in far-off climes, continued intolerance over people from different backgrounds, the never-ending toxicity of social media, the fact that football results don’t always go the way you want them to and, of course, the fact that Sony doesn’t allow as many anime tiddies on PlayStation platforms as they used to, things are pretty crap.

But there is hope! Hope has descended, in fact, in the form of IRyS, the latest addition to Hololive EN’s lineup. Rather than kicking off a whole new “generation” of Hololive EN to complement the existing “HoloMyth” brigade of Gawr Gura, Calliope Mori, Ninomae Ina’nis, Amelia Watson and Takanashi Kiara, IRyS has been added to the lineup as a “VSinger” who kind of stands by herself as an individual entity rather than being part of a specific ensemble.

IRyS

This isn’t the first time that Hololive has brought music specialist VTubers on board. In fact, the agency launched a music label called Inonaka Music (also known as INNK MUSIC) in May of 2019, and at the time of writing plays host to Virtual Diva AZKi, part of Hololive’s “0th Gen” alongside Tokino Sora, Roboco, Sakura Miko and Hoshimachi Suisei. Hoshimachi Suisei initially operated under the Inonaka Music label as an otherwise unaffiliated VTuber, but subsequently joined Hololive proper in late 2019.

On top of that, numerous other members of Hololive have shown that music is a particular specialism. From the existing Hololive EN members, Calliope Mori is probably the best known for her excellent gothic hip hop numbers, while Takanashi Kiara has also released several original songs and covers. Most recently, Amelia Watson has joined the party with her own debut single “Regret”, which is… quite something.

But I digress. IRyS is here now, and despite the name “VSinger” it appears that her activities won’t be exclusively restricted to all things musical. IRyS explained during her debut that the VSinger moniker simply means she will be releasing a lot of what she describes as “lore-involved” songs — but alongside that, she will be doing the usual VTuber activities of game and chatting streams.

IRyS

Long-term, it appears that she may be part of a larger group known collectively as “Project: HOPE”. It’s reasonable to assume that the intention here is to put together a full-on idol group who can do things together as Project: HOPE as well as work independently on their own specialisms. Alternatively, it may be that “Project: HOPE” is simply IRyS’ codename; it remains to be seen at this point.

IRyS had a slightly rocky road to her debut. On July 7, the Hololive English channel hosted an 8-hour video using YouTube’s “Premiere” system that allows viewers to chat with one another. The video consisted of nothing but a countdown with an ominous ticking sound, and at its conclusion we simply heard the chimes of a church bell, then the video ended.

This sparked brief confusion among people who had been waiting for a grand reveal as part of the premiere, but as it turned out the grand reveal was in a separate video on Hololive English’s YouTube channel. At the same time, IRyS tweeted for the first time on her Twitter account, which promptly found itself restricted for the sudden massive influx of new followers and the fact that her first tweet consisted of nothing but the musical symbol for “repeat the following section”. It took several days for the account to be fully reinstated.

IRyS’ debut was streamed on July 11, 2021, and featured both the usual things one expects from a VTuber’s debut — an introduction to their likes, dislikes and character lore, plus suitably gushing acknowledgement of the incredible work 2D artists and Live2D riggers put into bringing these characters to life — as well as a brief musical performance featuring a stirring performance of A Cruel Angel’s Thesis, the theme from IRyS’ favourite anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion.

IRyS, being a member of Hololive English, was subject to what fans have terms the “HoloEN Curse”, where if something can possibly go wrong, it probably will go wrong.

It took IRyS three attempts to successfully descend from the heavens and actually be heard by her audience. And the stream as a whole featured a few moments that the community tends to describe as “scuffed” — interface overlays being on display, things not appearing when they are supposed to appear, chat disappearing, that sort of thing — but it didn’t matter.

IRyS thoroughly charmed everyone from the moment she appeared on screen with her friendly, easygoing nature — including an Ina-style “wah” to open the stream proper — and quickly created an inclusive, welcoming, comfy atmosphere that everyone watching live seemed to particularly appreciate.

IRyS

According to her lore, IRyS is a “Nephilim”, which in Hololive terms means someone who is half angel, half demon. In theological terms, the true identity of the Nephilim is somewhat disputed, with some traditional Jewish explanations interpreting them as fallen angels while others simply describe them as “giants”. We’ll go with what IRyS said for now.

Her “divided” nature justifies her asymmetrical appearance, which includes not just a “two-tone” outfit, but also heterochromia in her eyes. IRyS also noted during her debut stream that there will be times when either her “angel” or “demon” side comes to the forefront, so it sounds like we can expect some costume variations from time to time, too.

She also demonstrated that she is able to remove her wings and halo from her model in order to “blend in” better with human society. Those horns and pointy ears are cosplay, obviously.

IRyS’ artist is Tomoyuki Yamasaki, better known as Redjuice. He’s contributed to a variety of games, TV shows and music videos over the years, including Fate/Grand Order, Girls’ Frontline and Guilty Crown, and has a distinctive, highly detailed style. He’s particularly fond of incorporating mechanical elements into his art; many of the pieces in his portfolio feature futuristic girls wielding heavy energy weapons or piloting mecha.

IRyS

IRyS’ Live2D rigging, meanwhile, was handled by Rariemonn, a prolific animator who was responsible for bringing a wide variety of VTubers to life. Some of his most well-known creations include Inugami Korone, Nekomata Okayu, Shirogane Noel, Amane Kanata and Ninomae Ina’nis, so he’s very much a familiar face around the Hololive community, and IRyS’ audience was excited to see him involved with her model.

So far, it’s fair to say that IRyS has captured the imagination of the VTuber enthusiast community, and it seems like she’s going to fit in well with the rest of Hololive. She has had plenty of support from her numerous “senpai” both on social media and during her streams so far, and thus it’s likely that one of her dreams — to collaborate with her Hololive friends and colleagues — will come true sooner rather than later!

And she’s got off to a good start numbers-wise, too; a day after her debut she’s already at 414K subscribers on YouTube, placing her just shy of halfway to some of her HoloEN colleagues. Her debut video has enjoyed a little over a million views already so far, too. On Twitter, meanwhikle, she’s bagged 232.6K followers at the time of writing — many of whom are other VTubers keen to support her.

She’s got the music side of things off to an immediate start, too; her debut EP “Caesura of Despair” is already available on a variety of different streaming and digital music platforms.

The future looks bright for IRyS so far, then — and much like the rest of Hololive in general, she looks set to help the community as a whole enjoy some bright, positive distractions from the troubles that everday life in 2021 seems to keep flinging at us. So please cheer for our new VSinger — she can indeed be both your angle and yuor devil.

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Pete Davison
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