Checking out Phase Connect’s merry band of new VTubers

[Editor’s Note: Hi Pippa! Keep up the amazing work. With love from the Rice Digital team.]

When it comes to VTubers, there are certain names that everyone knows — even if they’re not particularly into VTubers themselves. Pretty much everyone is aware of Hololive at this point, the sterling work that Nijisanji’s English generations have done so far has very much put them on the global map — and of course, there’s the glorious chaos of VShojo.

What about smaller operators, though? There are plenty of other individual VTubers and VTuber groups that tend to go relatively unnoticed in comparison to the big names of the business, and that can be a real shame. So, with that in mind, today we’re taking a look at the Canada-based Phase Connect, a group of VTubers who debuted just under two months ago, and who have been quietly establishing themselves ever since with some impressively prolific output.

Phase Connect consists of three Japanese members and four English members; for the sake of time today (and bearing in mind that we’re an English-speaking site!), we’re going to be focusing on just the English members, but if you want to check out the entire lineup including the three JP gals, you can find links to all their channels from the official Phase Connect YouTube page.

Rinkou Ashelia

Ashelia, or Lia as she is often known, claims to be her home planet’s most wanted criminal. After having a dream in which a mysterious man told her to return the “fork relic” to Earth, she pinched said relic and, pursued by the police, she jumped through a portal and ended up on Earth. She never found the fork man, and gave up looking when her legs got tired, and now here she is.

Lia’s a fan of horror and fantasy games, iced coffee, custom keyboards, dancing and cosplay, gacha games (particularly Ensemble Stars) and voice actors (particularly Kaito Ishikawa). She hates cheese and believes it should be destroyed. Her favourite anime include Love, Chuunibyou and Other Delusions, Death Note, Guilty Crown, Fullmetal Alchemist and Oreimo, while her favourite manga include Given, Pandora Hearts and Jujutsu Kaisen. Her favourite games include Bravely Default, Fire Emblem, Ace Attorney, The Fruit of Grisaia and eroge in general. We like her.

Lia from Phase Connect

Lia’s character designer is Mins, who is an artist with a distinctive style; much of their previous work is fanart, with a particular focus on Fate/Grand Order, but they have worked on some original creations in the past too. Minsgraph seems to have a love for busty girls, and Lia’s character design certainly reflects this, with her semi-transparent top and open jacket accentuating her cleavage in a stylish manner. Meanwhile, Lia’s Live2D rigging was handled by 925_kuniko, an established Live2D designer who has previously worked on a number of Japanese VTubers.

Lia’s design is very effective because there’s a certain amount of gap moe going on; her default expression looks quite stern and serious, but her rather gentle, sweet and occasionally quite childish voice undermines this initial impression somewhat, making for a very likeable VTuber that it’s a lot of fun to hang out with.

To date, Lia’s videos have covered a broad range of topics, including popular titles such as Scarlet Nexus, multiplayer or online titles including Genshin Impact and League of Legends, comfy cult hits like PowerWash Simulator and, of course, the inevitable Minecraft. She’s also fond of short-form shitpost videos, which are becoming increasingly popular among VTubers because of how easy they are to share and meme on.

In the just under two months since her debut with Phase Connect, Lia has picked up a little over 8,000 subscribers. If you want to join them, check out her channel.

Pipkin Pippa

The self-professed “cutest rabbit” — pretty much every one of her videos is titled “Cutest Rabbit [does something]” — appears to be the most popular of Phase Connect’s initial lineup so far, being the only one to have broken 10,000 subscribers at the time of writing. She reckons she could beat up a fox despite the longstanding animosity between rabbits and foxes, and indeed claims to have proven as such when her Phase Connect genmate Tenma sat on her bag of chips. The cutest rabbit supposedly responded by “slapping her booze right out of her hand” and yelling at her so much she started grovelling, though some dispute her claims in this regard.

Pippa is a fan of tabletop RPGs, particularly D&D 5th Edition. She also likes video games, noting that they are pretty much all she does with her life. She also likes power cords, claiming them to be her favourite food — definitely a rabbit, then — and when she’s not eating those, she likes chips, which are also her favourite food. She hates technical difficulties despite (or perhaps because of) having a lot of them, largely due to her penchant for eating power cords.

She also detests lag and buffering, including the buffering that happens in your brain when, in her words, “sometimes you’re trying to word and the words just don’t word and I don’t like it when they don’t word right, you know?”, and does not get along well with crowds due to her sensitive rabbit ears.

Pipkin Pippa from Phase Connect

Game-wise, Pippa enjoys MMOs, through which she is more than happy to reach her daily quota of socialisation. She particularly enjoys Final Fantasy XIV, Black Desert Online and Mabinogi. Alongside that, she’s a fan of rage games, and also has long-term intentions to do a lot of community activities including visiting Minecraft servers, showcasing community creativity, hosting a manga club and plenty more besides.

Pippa’s character designer is Chiri, an artist with a particularly distinctive style around the mouth area — that may sound quite specific, but take a look at their art and you’ll see exactly what I mean; it’s very much evident on Pippa’s model, too. Live2D rigging, meanwhile, was once again handled by 925_kuniko, the same as her Phase Connect genmate Lia.

So far, Pippa’s videos have covered a wide variety of games, including the promised Minecraft server visits, horror games, Pokémon and plenty of Mabinogi. Like Lia, she’s posted a fair few short-form shitpost videos, many of which make use of a greenscreen backdrop for easy memeing. If you want to challenge yourself, there’s also a 10-hour video of her staring at you that is oddly hypnotic.

Pippa’s chaotic energy is infectious and highly enjoyable to watch — so if you want to join the more than 10,000 people who are already subscribed to her on YouTube, get yourself over to the cutest rabbit’s YouTube channel right now.

Fujikura Uruka

Fujikura Uruka (F! U!) kicked off her debut stream with a spectacularly catchy song explaining how she’s “not so strong and not so smart, but music she can do”. She supposedly trained as a guardian in another world, but always wanted to perform music instead. Her family said no, so she ran away from home with all her instruments, dropped out of the guardians’ academy and now lives under a rock. Her blood type is “red”.

She likes sweet things, dogs, anime and music, with her favourite anime including K-On!, Violet Evergarden, Bunny Girl Senpai, Love Live!, Yuru Camp, Naruto, Quintessential Quintuplets and plenty more besides. Her dislikes are basically vegetables, particularly onions, which makes her all right in my book.

Uruka’s character designer is Luzzi, another artist with a distinctive style characterised by moody lighting and expressive eyes, and, once again, 925_kuniko handled the Live2D rigging duties.

Uruka hopes to play plenty of Breath of the Wild, Pokémon, Okami, Super Mario Sunshine and Muse Dash on streams, and is not into the idea of horror games, first-person shooters or League of Legends. Or anything like League of Legends. She played through the tutorial and found it boring, but admits she did not read the instructions so had no idea what she was doing. She would very much like to play the Yakuza games as well as To The Moon, which she owns but has not yet played.

Fujikura Uruka from Phase Connect

In terms of non-gaming work, she wants to do plenty of music streams, including karaoke and instrumental work — it seems that the interest in music is absolutely not just a “lore” thing, since she is a talented singer and instrumentalist; during her debut stream, she sang, she played the violin and expressed an interest in learning the erhu, which she describes as an “acoustic Otomatone”.

So far, Uruka’s streams as part of Phase Connect have included plenty of music — including an impressive three-hour classical music stream — as well as the inevitable Minecraft. She’s also played Detroit: Become Human, which has been oddly popular with certain VTubers, and has made a start on realising her dream of playing the Yakuza games.

Uruka is an interesting VTuber because she’s a marked contrast from the other members of Phase Connect; her deep voice and somewhat mature manner make her stand out in a good way, and make it feel like she’s intended to appeal to a slightly older audience. Her interest in music — and her willingness to practice live on stream — is actually rather inspiring (especially for a musician such as myself), and is a side of things that I’ve not seen many VTubers explore beyond singing to date.

Uruka has picked up just shy of 8.5K subscribers at the time of writing. If you’d like to join them, stop by her channel and give your horn a big loud toot.

Tenma Maemi

Finally, Tenma Maemi is a sake-supping fox, and thus the natural enemy of Pipkin Pippa. Tenma is keen to point out that the fox is not the bad guy of the story, and that the rabbit has, indeed, perpetuated plenty of evil against foxkind in her own right; if you’ve watched any of Pippa’s streams, this will be an eminently plausible story.

Interestingly, Tenma is obviously a native Japanese speaker, but has positioned herself as part of the English lineup of Phase Connect. Her streams are bilingual, and her English is heavily accented, but clearly understandable.

She is also a very short fox, so as part of her debut stream for Phase Connect, she prepared a special presentation on the appropriately respectful way in which one should address a short fox. There’s a lot more to it than you might realise. Do not pick her up, however adorable she might look. You may, however, offer treats.

Tenma’s design is a collaborative effort, with the main character design being the work of Capri134, with additional input from Lia’s designer Mins, a logo by Hiiragiryo and, as should be expected by this point, Live2D rigging from 925_kuniko.

Tenma Maemi from Phase Connect

Tenma’s tastes include horror movies and games, fruit tart, roguelikes, English slang, Pippa (despite everything), music and art. She dislikes bugs, hangovers, cake, dieting, Pippa (because of everything), English homework and horror games. We can expect to see her playing games like Neon Abyss, The Binding of Isaac, Dead Cells and her favourite, Hades; she also has something of a soft spot for Fall Guys, which despite seemingly not being as popular as it once was remains a reliable source of material for streamers.

She kicked off her streams for Phase Connect with a playthrough of the popular, challenging 2D action game Blasphemous, and since then has played pretty much all of the games she said she’d cover, along with the usual Minecraft and collaborative affairs alongside her genmates. To date, her most successful video has been her collaboration with the rest of Phase Connect’s English lineup on the popular ghost-hunting game Phasmophobia.

So far Tenma has picked up 6.6K subscribers on YouTube; if you’d like to make an appointment to drink sake with a very short fox, then get on over to her channel right now!

To check out all the Phase Connect VTubers, including the Japanese lineup of Iori, Nasa and Michiru, stop by Phase Connect’s main channel. And enjoy!

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