in September 2020, to much fanfare and anticipation from fans, COVER Corporation (CEO: Motoaki Tanigo) announced the launch of hololive English, an all-girl VTuber group aimed at the English-speaking audience, along with its first five members: Ninomae Ina’nis, Takanashi Kiara, Watson Amelia, Mori Calliope, and Gawr Gura. As the name of the initial team "Myth" implies, they all "hail from worlds of legend."

© COVER Corp., Ltd.

hololive English -Myth- marked their half-year anniversary recently. And indeed, there is much to celebrate. The group has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity, with subscriber numbers quickly reaching and overtaking some of the most popular VTubers in the world. At the time of writing, all five members are in the top 21st places for VTubers in terms of subscribers. Moreover, Gawr Gura is now second only to Kizuna AI at 2,440,000 subscribers, joining Mori Calliope and Watson Amelia in the prestigious 1 million club (according to "VTuber Ranking" operated by User Local, Inc.)

© COVER Corp., Ltd.

We reached out to the producer of hololive English to find out more about the group's origin, COVER Corporation's strategy for the group, as well as their challenges and hopes for the future.

Interview with the Producer of hololive English

grape Japan (gJ): First of all, thank you for accepting and granting us your valuable time for this interview.

To begin, can you tell us about your motivation for launching "hololive English" last year?

hololive English (hololiveEN): COVER Corp., Ltd. has been implementing a strategy to reach out to potential customers overseas by localizing hololive content (making it available in local languages), and we are doing the same for English-speaking countries. Since YouTube now has a total subscriber "population" of about 2 billion users as of November 2020, we believe that one of our main tasks, namely subtitling archived videos, is very important as a means of acquiring overseas fans.

However, from a long-term perspective, this alone will limit the spread of our content and gradually weaken its influence. I was in charge of localization right after I joined the company, and in order to solve this problem, one day I suggested to President Tanigo that we should localize the entire hololive content itself. This is what led to the establishment of the current hololive English.

gJ: hololive English -Myth- has achieved a lot so far. Looking at the number of subscribers alone, Gawr Gura is the second VTuber in history to surpass 2 million, and Mori Calliope and Amelia Watson have also surpassed 1 million. Was this within your expectations, or did it exceed your expectations?

hololiveEN: I personally was confident that we would be able to reach a certain number, but to be honest, I don't think any of us in the company expected it to come this far. Once again, I would like to thank all of our fans.

gJ: If possible, can you tell us which accomplishments of the Myth team, other than the number of subscribers, exceeded your expectations?

hololiveEN: Aside from the number of subscribers, since the establishment of hololive English, we have seen many people, not only from abroad but also in Japan, who have said that they initially had no interest in VTubers but after watching content from hololive English, they started watching other VTubers as well.

gJ: Takanashi Kiara's two original songs, "HINOTORI" and "Heart Challenger" have lyrics that are mostly in Japanese. Is the strategy of hololive English aimed at both domestic and international audiences?

hololiveEN: I think that localizing hololive also means promoting communication by transmitting "Made in Japan" culture overseas. hololive English is designed to function as a community that both Japanese and foreigners can enjoy at the same time in a natural way. Therefore, more important than any strategy, we want people to use hololive English as a "bridge" allowing richer language and cultural exchanges among fans. In fact, I believe that many fans are studying Japanese and English through hololive English livestreams.

gJ: Mori Calliope's range of activities has expanded considerably. For example, she appeared as a guest on "Trash Taste" and she wrote lyrics and sang a song for Princess Connect! Re:Dive. Can we expect to see more collaborations between hololive English and other IP and content creators in the future?

hololiveEN: We are considering collaborations with IPs and content creators that we think will please fans while respecting the image of the hololive English brand. Please continue to look forward to collaborations, including those that are already underway. We also hope that IP holders and creators reading this who wish to collaborate will feel free to contact us!

gJ: Auditions for new members of hololive English have just ended. Did you plan from the start to gradually increase the number of members and knew the timing as well? If not, can you tell us why you decided to expand the hololive English family at this time?

hololiveEN: Well, I can't give you a definite answer, but the plan itself is booked up to one year in advance. I think the reason why we decided to expand might be because we felt that we didn't have enough characters for the story yet. I can only say that for now.

gJ: The theme for the first five members was the world of mythology. Do you plan to have a fixed theme for the new members as well?

hololiveEN: As some fans may have noticed, the group hololive English has a lot of details about their personalities in their promotional videos, their names, and their profile information. The members who will be appearing in the future also have such details based on a "certain theme," but that's still a secret.

Incidentally, the reason why we chose the word "Myth" to describe the first group is partly because we don't want to use expressions such as "first-generation members," but mainly because we think that if we use numbers, it's easy for people to develop preconceptions about the prioritization of different groups, which makes it difficult to maintain fairness for all hololive English members.

gJ: On Reddit, there was a lot of anticipation and excitement over the recent auditions. However, there were also many comments about how this time, as well as last time, the eligibility requirements included the phrase "gender irrelevant." Can you tell us why you felt it was necessary to include this in the announcement?

hololiveEN: This is not a condition that we started including in the hololive English application guidelines, but it was originally added as one of the guidelines for the entire hololive group. Of course, everyone has their own point of view, and we believe that recruitment should be fair. However, since this time we are recruiting for the female VTuber group hololive English, we believe that those who are selected will make their debut as female characters.

gJ: What issues do you feel need to be addressed for the future development of hololive English?

hololiveEN: There are two issues that I can think of at the moment, the first being the effects of the novel coronavirus infection which are currently being felt on a global scale. The members of hololive English are located all over the world. Of course, some of them live in the underworld, while others are in some divine realm.

The second issue is the future development of hololive English, which has expanded tremendously in scale due to the excitement it has generated since its debut with Myth. We are always thinking about how we can meet the expectations of our fans, both in terms of content and the members who will be making their debuts.

gJ: If you don't mind me asking, what are your current goals for your company's expansion into English-speaking countries?

hololiveEN: The establishment of hololive English has created a stir in the development of the VTuber market overseas, but I feel that there has not been enough time and there is still a lack of supply for VTuber content to take root in the world as pop culture from Japan. Just as anime and Japanese video games have taken root in the English-speaking world, I hope that VTubers will not end up as a passing fad, but will become a gateway to people's interest in Japan, its culture, and language.

gJ: Finally, is there any message you would like to convey to your fans overseas?

hololiveEN: Dear readers and fans, thank you very much for always supporting hololive English. Hope you all enjoyed our April Fool's journey. Also, thank you for taking the time to read my answers so far.

First of all, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you. The fact that hololive English has made it this far is thanks to the enthusiastic support and publicity of our fans. It's also the result of the superb combination of the attractive designs of our illustrators, and the versatility of the hololive English members.

I'm not only talking about hololive English when I say this, but I would like to encourage you to find your favorite characters and support them as best as you can, whenever you can. I don't mean to imply anything, but where there is a beginning, there is always an end. Enjoy your activities as a fan to your heart's content and with no regrets. Thank you for your continued support.


By - Ben K.