Cover and Anycolor team up against harassment of Hololive and Nijisanji VTuber talents

A lot of people see the world of VTubers as a source of positivity. The performers themselves have the opportunity to put themselves across as an “idealised” form of themselves, while the audience has the opportunity to get to know a “character” in a way that simply isn’t possible in more traditional forms of media.

Unfortunately, as with every good thing on the Internet, it didn’t take long for the more unpleasant parts of humanity to start showing themselves. Whether it’s “drama” channels attempting to stir up controversy (often where none really exists), jealous fans causing trouble in rival communities or the malicious revealing of real-life personal information about these virtual performers, the world of VTubers is certainly not an easy one to be part of.

To that end, two of the world’s biggest VTuber agencies — or, more specifically, the companies behind them — have teamed up in an attempt to combat harassment of their talents, particularly with regard to acts of defamation, slander and general interference with their activities.

VTuber group Luxiem from Nijisanji

Protecting the VTubers

On December 5, 2022, both Cover Corporation (the parent company of Hololive) and Anycolor Inc (who are behind Nijisanji) put out a joint statement indicating that they appreciate the support of passionate fans the world over, but “condemn the fact that the reputation or trust of talents and virtual livers that are affiliated with our companies are being unnecessarily tarnished”.

And with that in mind, they intend to “protect affiliated talents and virtual livers from these heartless acts of defamation and the like”, and will “cooperate with other companies in accordance with the circumstances and matters at hand, and intend to work vigorously to eradicate acts of defamation.”

The details of such acts of “defamation” are often not made public outside of when they initially occur, and it’s testament to both Cover and Anycolor’s respective skills at public relations that there have been relatively few major scandals in the commercial VTuber space to date.

But, unfortunately, it’s not been enough; the departure of the beloved Kiryu Coco from Hololive was largely attributed to harassment by “antis”, the trouble that led to Uruha Rushia’s termination from Hololive at least partly stemmed from malicious harassment — though in this case her response was as much a part of the problem as the trigger — and most recently, Nijisanji Japan’s VTuber Axia Krone recently announced that he would be suddenly graduating after a long hiatus due to harassment.

VTuber Axia Krone from Nijisanji

It’s likely that this latter incident is what spurred Cover and Anycolor to take action, since a lot of the terminology used in the companies’ statement mirrors that used by Axia Krone in his stream announcing his graduation.

“I’ve been reaching out to take legal action against defamation,” he said, according to a translation of his statement. “The slander of my own streams and other livers that has been happening recently… I want to take the time to properly settle this and restart my activities feeling great.”

There has also been controversy elsewhere in the VTuber space, with the immensely popular Vox Akuma from Nijisanji EN’s Luxiem branch having to step up and have harsh words with his community over the behaviour of some fans, and how he feels this can conflict with the kind of performer that he wants to be.

The normally soft-spoken performer raised his voice and became incredibly passionate when discussing supposed fans who had engaged in harassment and delivered death threats. He also acknowledged that he bears some responsibility in helping to make this right, particularly as he was unaware of the extent of the problems that were occurring in his own community.

“If anyone in this community has ever engaged in that kind of behaviour, even just once, fuck off,” he said. “And don’t come back. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

It seems at least some of the trouble stems from certain fans believing that VTubers should offer “GFE/BFE” (GirlFriend Experience/BoyFriend Experience) streams, and subsequently becoming overly possessive as a result of the intimate-feeling parasocial relationships such streams tend to engender. Many streamers — including Vox — have been leaning into ASMR role-playing streams, as these are a popular kind of stream for people to relax with, but it seems some fans have been taking things a bit far.

This was also part of the reason that Axia Krone decided to hang up his Nijisanji VTuber colours; he was not a fan of fans treating him as if they were his mother or girlfriend. “I am just a streamer who plays games; don’t pretend to be my girlfriend and have strange dreams about me,” he was quoted as saying.

VTubers from Hololive

These incidents read like the early warnings over parasocial relationships with online performers — particularly VTubers — are coming to a head. Since Hololive and Nijisanji both came to the English market during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdowns, a lot of fans turned to the talents working for those agencies for comfort during a lonely and difficult time. While many fans were happy to maintain a respectful distance, there are, evidently, some who have had trouble restraining themselves.

The specific incidents that Cover and Anycolor call out in their joint statement include “acts of defamation, infringement of privacy rights, infringement of goodwill by acts such as ‘trolling’ and attacks such as death threats, stalking acts and the like”. Their proposed actions include “sharing know-how to execute countermeasures, working together on various other countermeasures, which includes taking legal action, and structuring a system where we can work together with the police and other companies.”

The two companies also call out “so-called ‘summary sites’ that we have determined to have posted information that tarnishes the reputation or trust of our affiliated talents and virtual livers. We are moving towards entering into a settlement agreement with such operators that will take the form of having certain conditions to ensure that the rights of affiliated talents and virtual livers cannot be infringed and that any acts to assist with defamation and the like will no longer occur.”

There’s a lot of legalese in the statement and relatively few specifics; this is likely deliberate so that those who are responsible for the harassment and defamation are not able to find suitable “loopholes” to enable them to continue with their behaviour.

The collaboration between Cover and Anycolor comes after the latter established a task force in September of 2021 to specifically handle offensive and defamatory content, including copyright and privacy infringement, stalking or threats of dangerous behaviour. On October 14 of 2022, Anycolor announced that across the first year of the task force’s operation, they had handled 88 cases up until September of 22, with several having gone to court.

You can read Cover and Anycolor’s joint statement here or here.

Header art by rei_17. Original source here.

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Pete Davison
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