What is Hololive? The VTuber Group Breaking YouTube and The Internet

VTubers have become internet sensations across 2021. There’s one group that reigns supreme: Hololive. With over 60 creators under their banner, here’s how the Japanese company broke YouTube, and the internet, with their idols.

Everyone knows the household names in online entertainment, from Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg to Jimmy ‘MrBeast’ Donaldson. However, a number of these online stars are becoming increasingly ‘virtual’.

The VTuber craze has taken YouTube by storm, and one company is at the forefront of it all: Hololive. The Japanese talent agency is home to over 50 creators, and all of them are taking the internet by storm and breaking records. And, the VTuber takeover doesn’t look like slowing down soon.

Hololive VTubers
VTubers are taking over YouTube, and Hololive is leading the charge.

What are VTubers?

VTubers are a relatively new phenomenon when it comes to the internet. Short for “Virtual YouTubers,” they are online entertainers and idols. However, unlike your usual streamers, they use a virtual avatar as their ‘camera’.

The trend spawned out of Japan with Kizuna AI’s creation in late 2016. Considered the first VTuber in history, Kizuna broke the expectations of who streamers are, and brought virtual reality into entertainment in a big way.

After that, VTubers exploded globally. At the time of writing, there are more than 10,000 known VTubers. There are also talent agencies housing these VTubers, the biggest of which is Hololive. They are very much aligned with traditional entertainment agencies, especially idol ones who have people audition for specific roles in groups.

Some of the world’s biggest streamers, including Pokimane and PewDiePie, even cashed in on the craze in the peak of its mainstream popularity in 2020. However, even since then, the industry has only continued to boom, becoming one of the most popular trends on YouTube with billions of views per month.

PewDiePie's second anime avatar.
Even traditional content creators like PewDiePie (pictured in avatar form) are becoming VTubers. Source: YOUTUBE: PEWDIEPIE

The rise of Hololive in 2020

Hololive is an arm of COVER CORP, a Japanese start-up created by Motoaki ‘YAGOO’ Tanigo. Often referred to as the father of VTubers, YAGOO started exploring the concept of these virtual entertainers in 2017, inspired by vocaloid idol Hatsune Miku.

After debuting Tokino Sora in September 2017, Hololive slowly expanded from there. One VTuber turned into two, and then all of a sudden, there were dozens of creators under their banner by the end of 2019.

Expanding into ChinaIndonesia, and English-speaking nations across 2019 and 2020 turned Hololive from a niche Japanese group into a truly global experience. While all of Hololive’s Chinese VTubers have since “graduated” (codeword for retired) due to controversy, it did its job of bringing virtual entertainment into the foreground.

2020’s expansion into the Western market saw the rise to the trend as we know it today. Hololive English’s first five VTubers ⁠— Mori Calliope, Takanashi Kiara, Ninomae Ina’nis, Gawr Gura, and Amelia Watson ⁠— took over YouTube, leading to a complete craze.

The Council expansion in 2021 with five new English idols only cemented Hololive’s place at the forefront of internet fandom.

Gawr Gura on stream
Gawr Gura is Hololive’s biggest VTuber with over three million subscribers.

There’s no exact answer as to why VTubers exploded in popularity. The use of a virtual avatar may be one side of the story, giving previously-camera shy personalities a way to express themselves. It’s also just different from your regular online entertainer business.

The VTubers themselves are immensely successful. Eight out of the 10 highest-earning YouTube stars (based on Superchats, the platform’s donation system) are VTubers — seven of them are signed by Hololive.

Collectively, 50 million subscribers follow Hololive VTubers, and that number only grows when you consider other talent agencies.

The future of Hololive and VTubers

With a wider Western audience getting involved with VTubers ⁠— whether it be new talents like those under Hololive, or already established streamers making the switch ⁠— the future for VTubers looks even brighter in 2023.

What this year will bring for Hololive remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: VTubers are here to stay.

List of Hololive VTubers

Subscriber numbers correct as of December 19, 2022. Italicized = graduated.

Tokino SoraHololive Generation 0September 7, 20171,040,000
RobocoHololive Generation 0March 4, 2018885,000
Sakura MikoHololive Generation 0December 25, 20181,630,000
Yozora MelHololive Generation 1May 13, 2018783,000
Shirakami FubukiHololive Generation 1June 1, 20182,040,000
Natsuiro MatsuriHololive Generation 1June 1, 20181,310,000
Aki RosenthalHololive Generation 1June 1, 2018721,000
Akai HaatoHololive Generation 1June 2, 20181,400,000
Hitomi ChrisHololive Generation 1June 3, 2018Deleted
Minato AquaHololive Generation 2August 8, 20181,710,000
Murasaki ShionHololive Generation 2August 17, 20181,070,000
Nakiri AyameHololive Generation 2September 3, 20181,350,000
Yuzuki ChocoHololive Generation 2September 4, 2018929,000
Oozora SubaruHololive Generation 2September 16, 20181,410,000
AZKiInonaka MusicNovember 15, 2018697,000
Ookami MioHololive GamersDecember 7, 20181,050,000
Nekomata OkayuHololive GamersApril 6, 20191,520,000
Inugami KoroneHololive GamersApril 13, 20191,910,000
Hanasaki MiyabiHOLOSTARS Generation 1June 8, 2019134,000
Kagami KiraHOLOSTARS Generation 1June 9, 201977,100
Kanade IzuruHOLOSTARS Generation 1June 22, 2019206,000
Usada PekoraHololive FantasyJuly 17, 20192,110,000
Uruha RushiaHololive FantasyJuly 18, 20191,470,000
Shiranui FlareHololive FantasyAugust 7, 2019942,000
Shirogane NoelHololive FantasyAugust 8, 20191,590,000
Houshou MarineHololive FantasyAugust 11, 20192,230,000
Yakushiji SuzakuHOLOSTARS Generation 1September 7, 2019Deleted
ArurandeisuHOLOSTARS Generation 1September 8, 2019177,000
YogiriHololive China Generation 1September 27, 2019Deleted
RikkaHOLOSTARS Generation 1October 20, 2019222,000
CiviaHololive China Generation 1November 1, 2019Deleted
Hoshimachi SuiseiHololive Generation 0December 1, 2019 (previously independent)1,660,000
Astel LedaHololive Sun TempoDecember 7, 2019217,000
Kishido TemmaHololive Sun TempoDecember 14, 2019129,000
Yukoku RoberuHololive Sun TempoDecember 24, 2019277,000
Amane KanataHololive Generation 4December 27, 20191,270,000
Kiryu CocoHololive Generation 4December 28, 20191,420,000
Tsunomaki WatameHololive Generation 4December 29, 20191,310,000
Tokoyami TowaHololive Generation 4January 3, 20201,160,000
Himemori LunaHololive Generation 4January 4, 2020874,000
Spade EchoHololive China Generation 1January 30, 2020Deleted
DorisHololive China Generation 2April 3, 2020Deleted
RosalynHololive China Generation 2April 5, 2020Deleted
Ayunda RisuHololive Indonesia Generation 1April 10, 2020778,000
Moona HoshinovaHololive Indonesia Generation 1April 11, 20201,240,000
ArtiaHololive China Generation 2April 11, 2020Deleted
Airani IofifteenHololive Indonesia Generation 1April 12, 2020663,000
Tsukishita KaoruHololive MaFiaApril 29, 2020Deleted
Kageyama ShienHololive MaFiaApril 30, 2020213,000
Aragami OgaHololive MaFiaMay 1, 2020171,000
Yukihana LamyHololive Generation 5August 12, 20201,080,000
Momosuzu NeneHololive Generation 5August 13, 20201,000,000
Shishiro BotanHololive Generation 5August 14, 20201,280,000
Mano AloeHololive Generation 5August 15, 2020Deleted
Omaru PolkaHololive Generation 5August 16, 20201,050,000
Mori CalliopeHololive Myth (English)September 12, 20202,170,000
Takanashi KianaHololive Myth (English)September 12, 20201,440,000
Ninomae Ina’nisHololive Myth (English)September 12, 20201,490,000
Gawr GuraHololive Myth (English)September 12, 20204,250,000
Watson AmeliaHololive Myth (English)September 13, 20201,720,000
Kureiji OllieHololive Indonesia Generation 2December 4, 20201,220,000
Anya MelfissaHololive Indonesia Generation 2December 5, 2020590,000
Pavolia ReineHololive Indonesia Generation 2December 6, 2020723,000
IRySHololive Project: HOPEJuly 11, 2021904,000
Tsukumo SanaHololive Council (English)August 22, 2021399,000
Ceres FaunaHololive Council (English)August 22, 2021668,000
Ouro KroniiHololive Council (English)August 22, 2021828,000
Nanashi MumeiHololive Council (English)August 22, 2021766,000
Hakos BaelzHololive Council (English)August 22, 2021661,000
La+ DarknesssHololive Generation 6November 26, 2021876,000
Takane LuiHololive Generation 6November 27, 2021657,000
Hakui KoyoriHololive Generation 6November 28, 2021779,000
Sakamata ChloeHololive Generation 6November 29, 2021954,000
Kazama IrohaHololive Generation 6November 30, 2021654,000
Vestia ZetaHololive Indonesia Generation 3March 25, 2022640,000
Kaela KovalskiaHololive Indonesia Generation 3March 26, 2022533,000
Kobo KanaeruHololive Indonesia Generation 3March 27, 20221,750,000
Yatogami FumaUPROAR!!March 29, 202295,200
Utsugi UyuUPROAR!!March 29, 202274,500
Hizaki GammaUPROAR!!March 30, 2022100,000
Minase RioUPROAR!!March 30, 202296,300
Regis AltareHOLOSTARS English TEMPUSJuly 22, 2022213,000
Magni DezmondHOLOSTARS English TEMPUSJuly 22, 2022182,000
Axel SyriosHOLOSTARS English TEMPUSJuly 23, 2022176,000
Noir VesperHOLOSTARS English TEMPUSJuly 23, 2022193,000

Source: Dexerto

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