Love shine a LazuLight: Nijisanji’s new English VTubers get started

It was only a matter of time, really; after the proven success of VTuber agency Hololive’s English branch since its debut in September of last year, it’s honestly surprising that competing agency Nijisanji didn’t jump into the English-speaking market sooner.

That said, the international branches of Nijisanji had something of an eventful year in 2020, with it initially looking like the Indian branch Nijisanji IN would become Nijisanji EN, though this decision was reversed in November of the same year. A few days after this reshuffle, Nijisanji’s parent company Anycolor Inc. (formerly known as Ichikara Inc.) announced that they were holding auditions for a first wave of VTubers (or “Livers” — as in “live”, not the internal organ — as Nijisanji tends to call them) specifically aimed at English-speaking markets.

It wasn’t until earlier this month that Nijisanji EN’s first wave, also known as LazuLight, was finally revealed, and the three members were set to debut on May 16, 2021 — though one actually ended up debuting a couple of days later due to technical difficulties.

Now that these three new Livers have well and truly established themselves as part of the swirling, chaotic, wonderful mass that is VTuber culture, let’s take a look at each of them and why you might want to check them out!

Pomu Rainpuff

First to debut from Nijisanji EN was Pomu Rainpuff, who is described as “a fairy who lived in a lush forest; supple like a flower in the breeze, cheerful and optimistic”. And this is certainly an apt description; Pomu burst onto the scene full of wonderfully chaotic energy before immediately bursting into song with what can be best described as a somewhat scuffed rendition of Hamtaro Tottoko no Uta. She then injured herself on her own microphone before saying anything coherent, which pretty much set the tone of what to expect from this delightful fairy.

Pomu prides herself on her “big PP energy”, which of course stands for “Powerful Pomu energy”. This means that anyone who watches her livestreams is constantly showered with the most potent of big PP energy at all times — and sometimes we all need that. The opposite of big PP energy is, of course, “ee”, because sometimes you’re just all “ee” and don’t you hate that?

Pomu knows exactly what she is doing; when revealing her full model, designed by mama Ichiso Kujou, she invited viewers to “please observe: thighs; please observe: vine around thighs; please observe: pointy ears” — clearly in order of priority — and made numerous references to enjoying eroge throughout her debut. A fairy of culture, for sure.

Her first week’s streams have been highly varied, including a more in-depth introductory Q&A session after her debut; a two-hour session of her being reassuringly awful at Tetris; a couple of episodes of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening; the obligatory Duolingo Japanese study stream; and her first ever attempt at Minecraft.

Pomu’s streams have an enjoyably chilled atmosphere to them; she’s relatively softly spoken, but she also has a love of bad puns and borderline horny jokes — and the fact her model’s default expression is a pleasantly cheeky smile makes her immediately likeable. She’s definitely worth a watch.

Elira Pendora

Second to debut was Elira (or simply “Eli”), who is described as “a sky dragon who came from the heavens closest to the sun. She has the kindness and receptiveness that makes the light of a sunny day fall equally on all.” This description is reflected nicely by Kamameshigogo’s design for her model; her gentle expression, her fluffy ears, her distinctive hairstyle and her exceedingly comfy-looking outfit are all designed to ensure that Elira puts her audience at ease and sticks in their minds. Some powerful big sister energy going on, I feel.

Although obviously a little nervous to begin with, Elira settled into the swing of things very quickly and seemed very natural presenting to the audience, even going so far as to get a “deez nuts” gag in there. There’s something about her — likely her slightly more mature-looking design — that makes Elira feel almost like a “leader” of the group, particularly when they’re all together. That said, she also seems to be the one most likely to let an F-bomb slip — usually followed by frantic apologies for doing so, which is kind of adorable.

Elira’s first week of streams, like Pomu’s, has been varied and interesting, including a post-debut Q&A session; a playthrough of popular new indie adventure There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension; another first-time Minecraft session; and a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe session where viewers were invited to participate. Notably, Elira also did a full Japanese stream to include overseas viewers; she seems fairly fluent in Japanese, though says she hasn’t attempted formal qualifications such as the Japanese Language Proficiency Test or JLPT.

Elira comes across as very likeable and has been a pleasure to watch stream so far; she exudes some powerful comfy energy in a manner that is distinct from her gen-mates, and is doubtless going to pick up plenty of fans as a result of this; at the time of writing, she is in the lead in terms of YouTube subscribers.

Finana Ryugu

Finana, or Fina for short, was originally set to debut after Pomu and Elira, but technical difficulties meant that she went live for just a few seconds before everything went wrong. It wasn’t until two days later that she was finally able to hold her proper debut; as a result, rather than simply doing a 20-minute presentation like her peers, she combined her debut presentation with a Q&A and audience interaction session.

Finana is a mermaid designed by Gilse, and according to her official profile, she “spends her time with tropical fish in the sea of coral reefs” and “has a heart as clear and pure as the calm and beautiful sea”. This certainly initially appeared to be the case with her endearingly soft voice and her gentle laugh that is strongly reminiscent of Ina from Hololive’s English branch.

That said, one might start to question her pure, clear heart when you notice that she was the only member of Nijisanji EN to not only specifically suggest an NSFW 18+ fanart tag — “Onlyfins”, naturally — but admit she was looking forward to the NSFW fanart more than the safe for work stuff.

Fina is a delightful nerd with a particular taste for custom keycaps, and intends to do semi-regular streams where she rates viewers’ keyboards. Her first attempt at that seemingly didn’t go quite to plan and as such it doesn’t appear to have been archived on YouTube, but the rest of her debut week’s videos have been entertaining; she decided to have a horror-themed week which took in Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion, Resident Evil Village, Search Party and a collaborative stream of multiplayer scarefest Lunch Lady; she also tried Genshin Impact for the first time and, of course, played Minecraft.

Like her peers, Fina is highly likeable from the moment you start watching her, and there’s a distinct sense that there’s a lot more to her than you might think based on your initial impressions. Doubtless her talk of NSFW fanart has got a lot of people interested, though note that the “Onlyfins” hashtag, at present, only appears to contain boring old 3D smut. You have been warned.

Nijisanji EN has got off to a slower start than Hololive EN in terms of subscription counts, but based on these initial streams and videos, the three LazuLight members are already starting to develop some solid communities. And ultimately while big numbers are nice, for VTubers it’s really all about those communities; the community members are the ones who support the VTubers by interacting with them, posting fanart and talking about them.

So if you’re in the mood for something new, be sure to go and support Pomu, Elira and Fina; they’re already working hard to entertain you, and their comfy streams are a fine way to spend your time.

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Pete Davison
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