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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
VTuber Legend: How I Went Viral after Forgetting to Turn Off My Stream

How would you rate episode 1 of
VTuber Legend: How I Went Viral after Forgetting to Turn Off My Stream ?
Community score: 3.7



What is this?

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Twenty-year-old former wage slave Yuki Tanaka now works among her idols: the streamers of Live-On, one of Japan's top VTuber companies. As the gorgeous, polite Awayuki Kokorone, she delivers only the most ladylike content. Unfortunately, her subscriber count and savings are at rock bottom. One evening, after Yuki thinks she's ended her stream, she cracks a few cold ones—and more than a few crude jokes—while watching Live-On's video archives. But her viewers hear it all, and clips of her bawdy, drunken commentary go viral overnight. Yuki thinks her career is over...until her manager reveals that everyone at Live-On has been waiting for her to snap all along and gives her free rein to drink on-stream.

VTuber Legend: How I Went Viral after Forgetting to Turn Off My Stream is based on the light novel series by Nana Nanato with illustrations by Siokazunoko. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Sundays.


How was the first episode?

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Caitlin Moore
Rating:

I have a few friends who are VTubers and, while they haven't weighed in on VTuber Legend, the episode was very accurate to the bits of their streams I've attended and the glimpses into the larger culture I've gotten through them. The more chaotic the VTuber, the better. After all, being a weirdo who says outrageous things makes for better clips to share around, which gets your more viewers, and so on. So it's not surprising that Yuki struggled to find an audience with a gentle, polite persona.

It's just hard to believe that a corporate VTuber can completely break kayfabe during a stream and not immediately be forcibly “graduated,” meaning forced to stop performing as that character. Hell, it's a wonder they didn't take Yuki out back and shoot her. To be fair, my friends are all indie to the point that they're basically self-employed and don't have a corporation controlling their image, so I don't really know the ins and outs of that part of the scene. But still, media corporations in Japan tend to keep tight control over their performers' images—so it's hard to believe that Yuki's manager's response would be to call her up the next morning, congratulate her on her virality, and encourage her to rock out with her cock out.

It's a good premiere if you're into VTubers, but it featured a lot of the things that made me hesitant to go any further into the scene than dipping my toes into the shallow waters of supporting my friends' endeavors. The ear-cleaning ASMR made me want to scream, and it doesn't help that, like most Americans, I don't have the cozy, intimate associations with the act that the presumed Japanese audience does. I also don't really enjoy the performative lesbianism that's endemic to the scene, though maybe Yuki is sincere when she yells about gooning—like I'm sure a small percentage of real VTubers are. And the fact that her new act relies on her getting drunk on Strong Zeroes every night, I am deeply concerned about her future health.

It was also fun how Yuki is always in her VTuber costume. At first I took it literally and thought it was silly that she was dressed up in real life as well as her avatar, but when she went to the store looking like that, I realized it was a deliberate stylistic choice. Are they going to do anything with it? Who knows! I had a good time with VTuber Legend but I don't think it's going to become appointment viewing.


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Richard Eisenbeis
Rating:

Guys, gals, and non-binary pals: I think I've found my guilty pleasure anime for the season. Now, to be clear, I'm in no way a hardcore VTuber fan. I was a regular watcher of Kizuna Ai back in the day before the whole re-casting thing kinda made me fall off. Since then, I haven't really watched any VTuber consistently (though the YouTube algorithm has been doing its best to change that over recent months). The ones I do occasionally watch, however, are all similar in one aspect: they're largely unfiltered. It feels like just sitting around cracking jokes—even vulgar jokes—with a friend. And basically, that's the kind of person this anime is about. We have Awayuki, an ascended fan VTuber who has committed to playing a character opposite of her true personality. However, one night she accidentally doesn't turn off her stream; cracks a cold one, and reacts to her fellow streamers as the fangirl she actually is—dropping one dirty joke after another, acting like a horny teenager.

This causes her to go viral—not in a bad way, though. While people are shocked at the difference between her real personality and character, viewers identify with her and what she's saying. She is one of them in the truest sense, after all. Even as an occasional viewer, this is something I can identify with. To me, it's the personality of the person behind the screen, not the design of the animated character or their fictional backstory, that grabs my attention. And honestly, if Awayuki were a real VTuber, I'd probably be watching clips of her religiously on YouTube. That's how entertained I was by watching this episode.

I also enjoyed some of the artistic choices made for this anime. We never get to see the real Awayuki, the normal girl behind the screen. Even in the real world, we see her avatar instead. This is because of the simple fact that her real appearance is irrelevant to the story, as is the real appearance of the other VTubers. Their personalities are what's important. Likewise, I didn't mind the fact that random people on the street just got placeholder animations. I know it's a cost-saving thing as much as an artistic one but I like that it thematically focused the story on our heroines through visuals alone.

Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Ayane Sakura carries this whole episode like a champ. She's 100% believable as both an in-over-her-head VTuber newbie and an uninhibited drunk, and this series would not work without her bringing her A-game. All in all, I had a blast watching this one and will be watching more.


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Rebecca Silverman
Rating:

I don't run into writer's block very often, but I have been staring at the wall for a good five minutes trying to figure out how to express my dislike for this episode without sounding like an out-of-touch, cranky old curmudgeon. It's true that I don't enjoy watching shows about people binge drinking, which this episode basically is; it's also true that I'm not particularly well-versed in VTuber culture. Both of those are likely contributing factors in why this was twenty-three minutes of hell for me, but I suspect that the deeper issue is that the premise is just so paper-thin that it can't support much in the way of plot.

Granted, this was, I suspect, primarily set up. The story can't go on without establishing the scenario laid out by the title: that VTuber Awayuki one night forgets to turn off her livestream and broadcasts herself chugging booze and making inappropriate sexual comments about other streams. This is completely contrary to the image she's been trying to project, that of a pure, sweet maiden, as unblemished as the driven snow. This persona wasn't really taking off, though, so when her unintended livestream goes viral, her manager decides that if she wants to get blotto and just shriek into her mike for her streams, why the hell not. After all, the disconnect between her princess look and her words are the stuff money is made of.

But beyond the thin plot and a few other bewildering choices (do all the streamers look like their avatars? Is this a weird “world inside the monitor” situation?), the real reason this episode made my skin crawl is the sound. The pitch of Awayuki's voice is like rubbing sandpaper on an open wound, particularly her version of the “sigh after drinking” trope. There's an ASMR stream she listens to that's mixed like a real one, and it made me want to puncture my own eardrums. After a while, even the sound of Awayuki opening up another can began to grate; simply put, it was a misophonic's nightmare. If you're sound-sensitive as well, I'd definitely use caution with this one, because the confluence of sounds can absolutely be too much.

I can't speak to how well this adapts the source material, and honestly, anime does seem like the more logical form for a story about livestreaming to take. But even without the auditory issues, jokes about cute girls playing phallic video games and drinking to excess just isn't all that entertaining. And now if you'll excuse me, I need to go stand in a silent room for a bit.


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Nicholas Dupree
Rating:

I feel like there's a better show in here somewhere. Not to say this premiere is bad, exactly, but it contains the potential for a lot of interesting ideas that don't quite congeal the way they're supposed to. As-is, this was an alright premiere that got some chuckles out of me, and managed to mostly endear me to its main character. All that, despite me not really caring for the whole Vtuber scene.

In fact, my general disinterest in Vtuber's is why I think this show had potential. All aspects of online life involve some level of performance, but Vtubing represents perhaps the apex of that idea. It allows online creators to not just control their image, but to craft a dramatized persona that is much more easily accepted through the avatar of a 2D character. Throughout the scene there are varying levels of kayfabe, different rules depending on who manages that performer, and a metric ton of interesting angles for a story to tackle. This show also seems to really understand the subculture, with an almost unsettlingly accurate portrayal of ASMR streams. That's a potent blend for a comedy that could fuel a lot of interesting ideas we haven't seen explored through anime yet.

I just don't know if the show is really prepared for or interested in that. For instance, the decision to depict all the “real” people behind these Vtubers as identical to their avatars is kind of counterproductive. The whole idea is that Awayuki's hot mess personality is totally at odds with her carefully crafted online persona, but that contrast is muddled when we only see her as the over-designed anime princess. I'm guessing the idea is to focus on the absurdity of Snow White chugging beer and yelling about her porn habits, and that's worth a few good laughs, but it puts another layer of separation between us and the character that doesn't quite hit right. I also wish we'd gotten more of a look into her life and streams pre-meltdown, if only to have a better idea of how different her more authentic stream at the end is.

Though something I do really like is how, even at the end, Awayuki is still performing. She's now reacting in a way that's closer to who she is offline, but she also makes sure to crack open her Strong Zero right next to the can. She's clearly got the kind of terminally online personality that would be attracted to Vtubing, what with all the shouting about her porn habits and “gooning”, but it's also clear she's playing up that aspect of herself for the audience. That paradoxical mix of performance and authenticity is really intriguing, and I'd hope the show can explore that further. If it does, this could be a pretty funny and unique show. If not, I at least got a lot of laughs out of Ayane Sakura's performance.


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James Beckett
Rating:

I have to be honest and say that I think the very idea of an anime about VTubers is kind of…self-defeating? I'm not super interested in VTubers myself, mostly because I prefer produced and written content over live-streaming stuff. That said, I think the whole concept of VTubing is pretty awesome, but I thought the appeal was the idea that a regular flesh-and-blood person gets to adopt a larger-than-life persona that is unmoored from the restrictions of a meatspace body. I'm overthinking this by a lot, I know, but I can't help but feel like casting a voice-actress to play a cartoon who is herself playing a cartoon is one too many layers of abstraction.

Whatever, this is probably just me being weird. The point is, I don't know if I'm the kind of viewer who is primed to resonate with VTuber Legend, and that might explain why I feel relatively cold about this premiere despite liking a lot of what it's doing on paper. I think the premise of this series is okay enough; it's always funny when a gal who puts so much work into crafting such a curated and cutesy persona has a few too many beers and starts to cut loose. Kokorone seems like a nice gal who has some horny-ass demons that get let out when she starts knocking back the beer cans, and I've been clamoring for more Drunk Disaster Women ever since Misato broke my brain when I first saw Evangelion as an impressionable teen. Also, this might be the first time that I've ever seen English subtitles have to use the word “gooning” before, which is a landmark to be…well, “celebrated” sounds weird, but you know what I mean.

Unfortunately, I'm just not terribly interested in the actual subject matter of VTubing that is so central to the concept of Kokorone's horribly awkward adventure. At least, it's not what I would go out of my way to look for in my television shows. It's one of those things that I think would be very fun to do, but to watch a bunch of livestreaming and ASMR-type content as a passive viewer? Not so much for me. It's got potential, though. I might check back in on it later on and see if I'm in a better mood to pick up what VTuber Legend is putting down.



Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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