Happy Mythiversary – one year of Hololive English

It’s time to celebrate the Mythiversary — the first anniversary of Hololive English!

Over the weekend of the 12-13 September 2020, the English-speaking world was introduced to “HoloMyth”, the first ever lineup from VTuber agency Hololive specifically designed to entertain the English-speaking community.

They weren’t the first English-speaking VTubers either from within Hololive or without — several of the Japanese talents had already realised the value of the “overseas bros”, the Indonesian branch Hololive ID also broadcast a fair amount of their streams in English and now-established talents such as Projekt Melody first appeared in 2019.

But for many people, Hololive English represented the first time a specifically English-speaking audience felt like there was high-profile VTuber content with the backing of a big agency like Hololive that was specifically for them.

Hololive Mythiversary

It was a risk, for sure — part of the appeal of many VTubers up until HoloMyth’s launch had come from the cross-cultural appeal, so there was always the chance that the format wouldn’t quite work in the same way if delivered natively in English; there was the chance we’d run into both the “sub versus dub” debate, as well as the fact that Japanese attempts to “appeal to the west” in various ways have often been met with a mixed reception.

Thankfully, all of HoloMyth quickly demonstrated that their designers were very much aware of the core appeal of Hololive up until this date, and thus combined a distinct anime-style visual appeal with a varied cast of contrasting personalities to play those characters.

So as we celebrate the Mythiversary, let’s take a look at each of those characters and see how they’ve developed over the course of the last year.

Calliope Mori

First to debut back in September of 2020 was Calliope Mori, whose stream was plagued with technical difficulties — thereby birthing the notorious “EN Curse” — and a slight sense of awkwardness. It couldn’t have been easy being the first one to step out onto the worldwide stage like that, and poor old Calli was clearly nervous.

Thankfully, her audience was immensely supportive at the time — and she demonstrated that she was not going to let a few frame rate issues caused by a virtual smoke machine put her off. She wowed everyone with her rapping abilities and the fact she already had an original song ready to fire off at debut — and the “gap moe” between her distinctly dorky awkwardness when speaking and the fire she spits when rapping was enough to make pretty much everyone fall in love with her.

Between the debut and the Mythiversary, Calli has continued to grow and develop in confidence. There are still times when she appears a little awkward and nervous — her appearance on the legendary Meme Review with the dearly departed Kiryu Coco was an especially apparent one — but for her fans, this is all part of her charm.

Her rather sweet and kind nature while streaming has led many of her fans (the “Dead Beats”) to refer to her as “Dad”, a nickname that she was initially a little resistant to, but which she has now embraced fully. This is all part of her gap moe appeal; the distinctly “edgy” appearance of her original character design and the “street cool” look of her newer outfit both contrast immensely with her actual personality, and that’s a big part of why people like her.

Like any good Dad, Calli doesn’t take any shit, though. On several occasions, she has spoken up very openly about people being rude to her and her comrades online, and it’s clear that she takes both her work and her friendship with the others very seriously. She cares about what she does, she cares about her friends and she cares about her audience. Always a pleasure to be around.

Takanashi Kiara

HoloMyth’s resident phoenix Takanashi Kiara immediately attracted the attention of a lot of people through her explosively vibrant personality and distinctive character design, with the latter being the work of Steins;Gate and Black Rock Shooter illustrator Huke. She immediately came across as one of the most natural entertainers of the group, demonstrating a solid commitment to the character she was playing as well as a willingness to immediately embrace memes about her.

On top of that, she had an immediate and obvious chemistry with Calli, which has led to their pair of them being constantly shipped together ever since their debuts. It is, in many ways, a perfect anime relationship; Calli is distinctly tsundere towards Kiara, often referring to her as “kusotori” (“shit bird”) while Kiara is constantly, deliberately flirtatious — and most certainly isn’t above attempting to make Calli jealous when the occasion demands it and the opportunity presents itself.

Despite her hefty amount of energy, Kiara came across as one of the most “vulnerable” members of HoloMyth in her early days; not long after her debut, she was very upset by an audience member who criticised her for making many of her streams bilingual in order to include Japanese viewers who had come to join the party. This was a sensible thing to do — after all, many Japanese VTubers had embraced English audience members, so it made perfect sense for English VTubers to return the favour.

Thankfully, Kiara’s audience rallied around her and supported her, praising her for her inclusivity and friendly nature, and she quickly started to feel a lot better about what she was doing. It will be a familiar feeling to many, though — one negative comment can sometimes feel like it has the weight of a thousand positive ones.

Kiara has developed one of the most enthusiastic, passionate fanbases over time, with them referring to themselves as employees of her fictional “KFP” (Kentucky Fried Phoenix) chain of restaurants. It’s not at all uncommon to see people popping up in the chat of other VTubers proudly sporting some sort of KFP “tag” on their names, proudly proclaiming them to be the restaurant’s resident electrician, fire extinguisher operator or something along those lines.

Not only that, but Kiara has been one of the most collab-happy members of Hololive English ever since her debut. She hosts semi-regular “Holotalk” shows on her channel alongside other members of Hololive from all over the world — and her collaboration with VShojo’s Nyanners was a huge moment for the English VTuber world, as it marked the first time that two high-profile, well-known agencies had allowed their talents to work together.

Since Kiara and Nyanners worked together, we’ve seen a lot more cross-agency collabs between Hololive, VShojo, Nijisanji and beyond — and doubtless there are plenty more to come. As we celebrate the Mythiversary, Kiara should be proud of playing a significant part in making all that happen.

Ninomae Ina’nis

Ina was a pleasant surprise for a lot of people when she debuted, because for many people who were only really familiar with clips of Japanese VTubers, there was an assumption that all VTubers were loud, noisy, chaotic individuals.

Ina is the opposite of that; she’s a delightfully calming, relaxing presence who is softly spoken and very welcoming, and her streams have fully embraced that aspect of her personality ever since her debut. She hosts comfy drawing streams, narrative-centric games and pleasantly chilled out chat streams where everyone is welcome, and she’s always been a thoroughly pleasant presence.

One might not expect such a gentle presence to be the source of memes, but Ina most certainly has her fair share of them that demonstrate her audience’s affection for her — one she has particularly embraced is her tendency to go “wah” in a very soft voice when suddenly appearing or expressing surprise; this has become such a popular part of Ina’s character that IRyS referenced it during her debut.

Ina has collaborated with a number of other members of Hololive English since her debut, but seems to get along particularly well with IRyS — unsurprising, since the pair of them are both quite softly-spoken, gentle personalities. They work well together on cooperative games, and their pleasantly understated enthusiasm for what they do often feels like blessed relief from the perpetually chaotic energy elsewhere on the Internet.

As we celebrate the Mythiversary, Ina quite rightly declares the last year as having been “wahnderful” — while we’ve all had our struggles to deal with in the last twelve months, for sure, the happiness that HoloMyth has brought to people cannot be understated. And the relaxing, welcoming sort of atmosphere that Ina creates in her streams is particularly important at times like this.

Gawr Gura

The Fates decided that Gawr Gura would be the runaway success story of Hololive English, and so as we celebrate the Mythiversary she is sitting pretty on 3.36 million subscribers on YouTube — a hefty chunk ahead of all of her peers, and indeed ahead of pretty much every other VTuber in the world; she even overtook longstanding VTuber legend Kizuna Ai (2.98 million subscribers at the time of writing) a while back.

It’s not hard to understand why Gura is so popular. She’s energetic and enthusiastic, but not excessively so; she strikes a good balance between being silly and genuine, and that, along with her diverse taste in games and willingness to experiment with stream format, makes her a constant pleasure to watch. You never can quite predict what she’s going to do next.

A lot of Gura’s appeal comes from a sort of “cheeky little sister” energy, which is somewhat at odds with her canonical lore of her being some sort of ancient shark thing from the depths of Atlantis — but honestly, after a little while, all that lore kind of ceases to matter anyway.

Instead, it becomes all about strength of personality and inclusiveness — and Gura provides both in spades, with her streams being enjoyable, accessible and often endearingly humble; one never feels like her fame and success has gone to her head. She’s still the same cheeky little shark she was when she first debuted.

One of the most appealing things about Gura in her debut stream was her singing voice, so it’s surprising that it took her so long to release an original song — but we were finally treated to one in June of 2021. Doubtless we’ll be seeing plenty more of that sort of thing from her in the future, since the YouTube video of said song has, at the time of writing, enjoyed nearly 10 million views. Not bad for a few months on the scene.

Gura’s popularity appears to show no signs of slowing down; she’s absolutely setting a great example for other VTubers to follow, so here’s hoping as we celebrate the Mythiversary that we have the chance to enjoy her company for a long time to come yet.

Amelia Watson

No-one was quite sure what to make of Amelia Watson after her debut. She was giggly and funny, sounded distinctly uncomfortable when attempting to sing something and spent most of the latter half of the stream injecting her audience with the “Watson Concoction” and playing with hallucinogenic video effects while making peculiar noises that weren’t actually words.

It didn’t take long for her to establish herself as something of an “older sister” figure, however; she has a silly, cheeky and often lewd sense of humour, but also knows when it’s time to get serious and talk earnestly and genuinely to the audience.

She’s not afraid to scold people when they step out of line, either, which is something I feel like we should probably celebrate in this day and age — it’s all too easy for the relative freedom of the Internet to make people feel like they can behave any way they want, regardless of how it makes others feel.

But at the same time, she’s also someone who will frequently joke about how she’s going to “ground pound your mom” — something which is celebrated in the unofficial Hololive game Smol Ame, which Ame has played on stream — as well as making one of the most impressively bulbous Oblivion characters I think anyone has ever created.

Ame is also probably one of the most creative members of HoloMyth; she’s been the most willing to experiment with stream format, and the most willing to make mistakes in the name of learning something. Instead of allowing difficulties to get to her, she embraces them and explores them — and the results are often rather wonderful.

I must confess that personally speaking, Ame is my favourite of the HoloMyth bunch, though I do love watching all of them according to my mood. Ame’s streams are the ones I most consistently reach for when I want to enjoy some VTuber fun, though — and I’m sure I’m not alone.

These five girls have achieved amazing things since their debuts last year, so as we reach their first Mythiversary it’s worth celebrating what they’ve managed to accomplish.

In the last year in particular, VTubing has established itself as something much more than just a passing fad. Hololive English absolutely isn’t the only source of great VTubers, of course — but the fact they opened the door for a thriving English-first VTuber scene cannot and should not be understated.

Happy Mythiversary, girls; we’re looking forward to the next one.

Header image by @MochizukiMochi_, from Ame’s Mythiversary video.

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Pete Davison
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