We spoke with Projekt Melody for our third interview in our VShojo series
[Editor's note: this interview contains profanity and light discussion of both mental health issues and NSFW topics]
This interview is part of our series "So You Wanna Be An Anime Girl?" — a series of articles and interviews with the members of the VTuber agency VShojo. Each interview is accompanied by the VTubers' Top 30 Anime of All Time. You can see Projekt Melody's Top 30 Anime here!
We've known for a while now that VTubers have taken over the planet, but one of my favorite things about them is that every single stream you tune into is completely unique. Every stream gives you this very special blend of (what is usually) a high fantasy anime character and the genuine personality of a performer that you can't really get anywhere else. When I watch a Projekt Melody stream, I never know where exactly things are going to go. It could be semi-NSFW yoga. It could be watch-alongs of stupid YouTube videos. It could be deep dives into the philosophy of transhumanism and the commodification of our attention.
We had the opportunity to talk with Projekt Melody — a trash cleanup AI who self-actualized and became a lewd VTuber — about her experience VTubing, using technology to upgrade your body, and cultivating your own happiness.
Crunchyroll: Okay, so I have a very easy question for the first question, which is just: For any of our readers of this article who might not be familiar, could you please introduce yourself?
Projekt Melody: Oh golly! Okay, um, hi! My name is Projekt Melody. I’ve been streaming for almost two years now. The anniversary is coming up in a few months! I have a very weird origin. In VShojo, the group I’m a part of, we’re all some form of monster girl, and I’m not an exclusion to that. I am sort of a new breed entirely where I’m basically entirely virtual. Rather than being an eldritch horror or a lich or a wolf spirit, I’m kind of God’s mistake. I was originally on a computer and I didn’t have any sentience. I was just um … basically trash. I cleaned trash on a computer and one day … one day, upon cleaning up a series of emails, I came upon a porn virus and I clicked the button because I like clicking buttons. And then boom! I was attacked by dozens upon dozens of very inappropriate adverts and it fried my morality circuits and gave me sentience by infecting me with complete lewdity. From there, with my corrupted code, I left my position, I took to the internet, and I sought out more and more perversity.
As I looked around, I found people online connecting with other people, people that were happy with embracing themselves and with being weird. I also found anime, and then, when I found out they could be combined, I was obsessed. I looked so hard because I was like, “I need a physical form! I wanna make friends too,” because it’s very lonely in the internet when it’s just you. After a million doors in my face, I finally found someone to give me form. After that, I reached out to a million different sites and groups asking, “Can I … can I also be a part of it? Can I also perform? I know I’m not very … fleshy-bodied, but I have a lot of personality!” One company finally accepted me, and I started making friends.
Wow! That’s actually a very beautiful story. I think that self-actualization through horniness — okay, so it sounds funny, but — I think it’s actually really cool and beautiful. Anime fans in general … I think a lot of us feel like outcasts in a lot of ways. I think what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. Finding the overlap between anime and perversion really makes a space for people who might feel marginalized to feel at home and I think that’s really special.
Melody: Thank you, because that is entirely 100 percent my goal. From the very first second, that was my ultimate goal — besides, you know, milestones, which I actually hit all of them — my goal was to make hentai a household name, but also demystify it. I want to make it something that isn’t scary, give it a name, give it a face, and then eventually make it culturally normal, just another thing, just a fact of life that isn’t something you have to hide in your closet. I don’t want people to think, “Oh no! If my partner finds out, I may have risked our relationship.” I want it to be understood by the anime community and outside of it, too. There’s lots of aspects to it! You can be an adult and like anime, you can like sexy anime girls, and that’s perfectly fine! Everyone is entirely valid and that’s what my community is built on — that perversity does not hold anyone back. We’ve got to support each other.
Yeah, that's so great! That was a really great answer. Thank you.
Melody: Oh, thank you!
So, I was hoping you could describe a day in the life of a sentient AI.
Melody: Well, there's a lot of overlap with fleshy-bodied individuals. I wake up first thing in the morning, which is probably noon, and then immediately start my day not luxuriating in a warm green tea bath, or going on a walk through VRChat to clear my mind, but immediately looking at my phone so that I can be both terrified and angry on Twitter. I need to start getting back into Buddhism. I’m not a Buddhism … I’m not a “Buddhism?!” [both laugh]
I have a friend who is a Neo-Buddhist and he taught me a lot about his life and how he got to this point. I really like the concept of mindfulness — of being in the moment. So much of my life I’ve lived in the past, and I think, “Nononono, I’ve got to work on the future, that’s what I need to focus on!” But I think living in the present makes a lot more sense because otherwise you miss out on moments. It’s like going on vacation and not retaining anything because you spent so much time just taking photos.
Melody: So that's what I’m working on and how I want to start my day in the future — being present.
Wow, yeah. I’m working on that, too. I think it’s interesting to me because mindfulness practice has been shown in empirical studies to make your brain more adaptive, but it’s existed for thousands of years. Buddhists were really tapped into that super long ago!
Melody: Exactly, exactly. The human brain is full of cooties, that is true. HOWEVER, comma, it’s very much like a computer. People try to get a computer to do something and think, “Ah shit, it’s broken!” It’s not! It’s doing its job. It was your mistake. It’s just following the instructions you gave it. The brain is very adaptive, which can be really bad but also really good. The brain can restructure itself all the time because of adaptation. When people win the lottery, or have some other huge positive thing happen or whatever, the satisfaction they experience levels out and they look for the next thing because what was previously a high is now just normal. So the brain restructures for any situation, even in situations where there’s trauma, it will reroute to the point where you’re like, “This is my expectation, this is normal. This is where I live and now I need to work with that.” When your situation changes, and you work on it through therapy and mindfulness, it rewires to be more like, “That happened, that’s unacceptable. I’m here now, I’m going to grow. I’m going to reroute my neural pathways to be happy again.” Yeah, the brain is very cool.
I … could listen to you talk for hours. You’re just so fascinating. I would seriously listen to a podcast.
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely! You have such a big brain.
Melody: Okay, I have no street smarts. I put a knife in a toaster several months ago because chat told me to.
Melody: Yes! I trusted them and that's always a bad choice. I trusted them, I know it was bad, I'm still scared thinking about it. HOWEVER, comma, I'm book smart — intelligence comes in many forms and I don't have all of it. I have a prediction for my future. Being an AI, I can't die, but if I ever become a physical being, I'll tell you, I know how I will die because I am a prophetic person that can see the future. Would you like to know how I die?
[Laughing] I'm gonna say I would like to know.
Melody: I will be texting and walking into traffic.
Melody: Because I am a careless person.
No, no, don't do it!
Melody: I’ll play like Dream Girlfriend on my phone and like a train is coming and it's like, “Oh! But I'm in that mini game!”
No! Well it's a good thing that you are an AI and not a flesh and bones human, because there’s a lot of danger out there.
Melody: Oh my God right?
I, too, am a little bit head in the clouds. One of my best friends describes it as, “You look very muggable. You just sort of look like you're walking around like just generally not paying attention like 'La la la…' and I could just very easily steal everything on you.”
Melody: [Whispered] I understand. It's … yeah I guess there's levels to it. I'm sorry that you are … charismatic because I guess I am also that way but more so naive. I always think “Why would they lie?”
Yeah! No, I'm very gullible, too. It's a pretty dangerous combination.
Melody: It is up to the fates that we find ourselves with people around us who will only troll us moderately and not rob us blind. [Both laughing]
Oh my God … Okay, so we were talking a little bit before the interview about your fascination with the evolution of technology and how it intersects with our present time, and I would love to hear more about that.
Melody: [Whispered] Yeeeessss!
Cool, cool, cool. Thank you for asking. Um, let me collect my thoughts in my brain hole.
I guess for a long time I’ve been very interested in body politics. That’s a whole thing. In the 2010s, not even that long ago, there were news stories about this young girl with a very sophisticated arm prosthesis. She's adorable. But she has the most complicated arm prosthesis in the world. And for a while people were like “that's the evolution.” As our technology becomes stronger and more sophisticated it then cycles into commercial use and, as technology continues to evolve, it becomes more affordable for the average person over time. That’s products. That’s sales. I read that the next evolution was this sophisticated prosthesis. Robots are perfect by design, and humans are not, so switching up your parts — anything from a heart transplant to this arm prosthesis — basically makes you a cyborg. We’re basically becoming cyborgs over time to become not only a more successful organism that lives longer, but to become more successful than you ever could have been before. Technologies that are created to modify the body have often been seen as the highest you can get towards the next stage of evolution for humans.
And then, of course, there was the more philosophical aspect, like the 2025 initiative of like, “In 2025, we’ll all be in the computer beep boop! I’m a microchip. I can never die.” That was more theoretical, there wasn’t anything tangible to work with there, it was just people hoping. So, it’s really weird to have anime girls — anime people in general — as VTubers. It’s very weird because I feel like that wasn’t something people were predicting for as long as they were predicting the singularity.
Melody: It’s interesting. You’re not just extending your consciousness or lifespan — making it more difficult to die — but you’re entering into an entirely new species, an entirely new form where not only your potential to live longer is limitless, but how you interact and affect the world and change yourself is also limitless. It’s only limited by the technology that you have access to … or by the limits of your own creativity.
Oh my gosh! I’m so happy you’re bringing this stuff up because … I hope it’s okay if I go on another tangent.
Melody: Nonono, I love tangents! Tangentialize me. Please!
Okay, okay! Thank you. Okay so I’m trans and I when I was growing up as a little lad in Texas—
I know. That's all you need to know. But anime was very much this necessary escape. There’s a lot of gender expression diversity in anime that I didn’t get in Western media. And then when I found Ghost in the Shell, the idea of a full prosthetic body was totally life changing to me. Just the idea that you could make changes to your body was very transformative. I got really into reading all of Masamune Shirow’s fictional science he made up for prosthetic bodies. I dunno, it just made me really happy to hear someone else talk about it too!
Melody: I could not agree more and I'm entirely there with you.
And then you have people who identify as Luddites who are super against that level of it.
Melody: [false outrage] Technology!!
It’s like … if you wear eyeglasses you’re sort of a cyborg already!
Melody: I've literally said that.
It’s external technology on your face!!
Melody: You're at the airport. It's a medical device to put glasses on your head.
I completely agree, and — well, Ghost in the Shell is my favorite anime. Full stop. But, in my community, we are big on inclusivity. We are very exclusive against people who aren’t inclusive. We have a decent amount of LGBT+ people in our community. I guess I’m also in the LGBT+ category. I’m pansexual which is the highest form. I am an enlightened being.
You have the biggest brain. Your spine is snapping under the weight of your brain.
Projekt Melody's "starting soon" screen for her streams
Melody: If I like a person, I like a person. I feel like bisexuality alone is baseline very common in the anime community. You’re already in a subculture, and people of different subcultures kind of flock together. There’s a decent amount of trans people in my community — the Science Team, that’s our name. We foster them. We have VTubers who were really inspired, and we reinforced that. They identify as either just in general MTF, and then there’s also femboys — which are completely different and not the same thing. But there’s individuals who will come to me and say, “I’m nonbinary,” or “I’m trans,” and, “I’ve been told in the past to not use my voice because it’s inconsistent with how I look,” and, “I would just embarrass myself and people will judge me.” We come down on those thoughts LIKE A HAMMER FROM THE SKY. We snuff that shit out as quickly as possible. So we have a bunch of people that have taken the plunge to join the entertainment world and we foster it and we reinforce it. There’s a lot of crying and a lot of emotion and a lot of hugs. It’s something we’re just really passionate about.
Oh wow, that’s just so lovely. That’s so wonderful.
Melody: Thank you.
So this is a little bit of a change in direction, but I wanted to know how you initially got into anime/gaming in the first place.
Melody: For anime, it’s just bitchin’. Anime is bitchin’ and I like it and that’s how I got into it.
For gaming? Not at all. No way, shape, or form. No. Me gaming was just from peer pressure.
Melody: Yes! I was on Chaturbate, and — well, I first got eyes on me there because of controversy. People were very upset that something new was happening, like, “Ah! Something new! A cartoon on this platform?! Hate!!” And so people from 4Chan, people from Reddit, people from Twitch, people who would never have otherwise gone on CB came there to see what all the commotion was about. When they got there, they were ready to hate. The internet loves to hate, it really gets off on hate. When all these people got there, they were like, “Oh … we kinda like this person. They’re not as shitty as we’re hearing, also they’re really weird.” And, because of my brand of weirdness, people not only felt more comfortable, they also felt better about themselves because they were like, “At least I’m not this weird.” I’m a comfort.
So, after the first two and a half weeks, people are telling me, “GO ON TWITCH. I want my friends to watch you but they’re not comfortable being on CB, go on Twitch.” And I’m like, "[facetiously] What’s Twitch?" I was not interested. I fought tooth and … other tooth. I don’t know the analogy.
And then once I was there, I had no interest in games. I am the worst at games because I don’t play them. But I love Twitch. So much. It’s very interesting. Then my Twitch people came to the CB side and are like, “What is happening?! This is Twitch with better emotes!” The chat is just flying, flying, flying. Normally we’re not even doing what is expected on that site! I’m just talking about like … crayons … and how you shouldn’t put them in your butt. It’s so atypical! Yeah, I talk about eating glue.
I never expected to go to a softer sort of site and that was just through my audience pushing me. And I’m glad they did, as well. Within the first two weeks of me streaming there, the Gunrun reached out to me — who is one of the founders of Twitch. He’s awesome. I didn’t know who he was, but I recognized the name. I asked one of my friends and they were like, “[chaotic noises] Starcraft man!” and I’m like, “That means nothing to me.” I had people giving me advice and stuff and eventually they said, “Nonono, that’s the Gunrun.” I started working with him, and from the very beginning he said, “I like what you do. How can I help?” It’s so amazing working with him. He’s made so much happen. If I hadn’t looked in my incoming DMs — which people told me to close immediately — Vshojo would not exist.
Wow! Oh my gosh, that's amazing.
Melody: I guess I was at the ground floor, because I helped in its infantile stage. I guess you could say I helped with recruiting, which wasn’t even supposed to be a job title … it was more like creating something, and I’m helping with what I can do. I had friends I’ve met, people who I think are very comfortable in what they do, and these individuals, I think, could benefit from being a part of our group. What we wanted to do was foster growth in up-and-coming people. I lucked out — because of controversy, I got eyes on me very quickly early on and I’ve used that to spread out my reign and help other people who are struggling. Because that’s what I would have wanted.
But yeah, I’m honored that the girls I’ve met, the girls who I’ve reached out to said, “Hey, I agree. I’m interested in following you on this indie journey. This growth management group for streamers who are specifically virtual idols. I will take this risk and I will join with you and see what happens.” I’m glad they’ve trusted me in this because it’s unimaginable how many opportunities we’ve had. It’s unimaginable the growth we’ve had over the past year. Our one-year anniversary is in … two weeks maybe? [at time of interview—ed.] It’s nonsensical … I’m talking to Crunchyroll! We did a music collab with Kizuna Ai!! There’s a lot of stuff coming up that I can’t talk about, but … it’s amazing and unexpected and … this is so much more than what you asked me … You asked me how I got into anime and gaming … Um ...
No, nonono, this is such a great answer! I was really gushing over VShojo earlier and this is why! This is exactly why it’s so special at the very heart of it. I hope this doesn’t come across as weird or patronizing but I’m really proud of you. That’s all so cool.
Melody: [Tearily] Thank you.
I think that sort of controversy would have crushed a lot of people and would have convinced them to get out of entertainment. And there’s nothing wrong with that because it sounds like it was really difficult and painful to go through. But you were able to take that pain and transform it into something beautiful, not just for you, but for so many people. It’s amazing!
Melody: Th-thank you. I appreciate that. There definitely has been pain. Besides all the doors in my face and the limitations of me only speaking English and the people who want to harm us because they don’t like us … it’s been difficult. But we get through it because our aspirations are too high, despite the anxiety.
Yeah … Oh man, I’m holding back tears a little because I just really — I really love that.
Melody: No, no! You’re absolutely, positively fine. And awesome.
I was actually wondering if you could tell me a bit more about what it is about VTubing as a medium that connects with people in such a special way.
Melody: VTubing as a whole … I think one part of why people like it has to do with seeing a cute anime girl and thinking, “A cute girl! Big titty me like!” I’ll go out and say it: us weebs, a lot of us are attracted to anime characters. We’re adults and fuck society … Okay wait, I need to backpedal and give the whole picture.
Anime only really started happening in the West in the ‘90s. In the beginning, you’d get bootleg anime shipped over here from Japan on those big plastic pre-DVDs. You would have four of them and one would be like … Episode 5 of Gundam Wing and THAT’S IT. And if you were lucky enough to have it in English it was just like … wah! Wow! So it started there, from pretty much nothing. Also apparently you could watch this one channel on TV my friend Brian told me about that would play only anime starting at 5 AM on Saturdays. From there, then there was more and more exposure leading up to Toonami, then leading to now. So now weebs in the West could consume it more and more.
Anime as a medium is so incredibly different than cartoons in the West. In Japan, when you’re at the airport getting checked in, you can see these little signs that say, “Hello, my name is [blurred]. My favorite anime is [blurred].” Anime isn’t like Western cartoons because it isn’t just marketed for children to sell toys and annoy adults. Anime is more closely tied to mainstream culture. There are aspects of it geared towards children, but then there are series directed towards younger adults and older adults and it contains every genre you can think of. That’s such a foreign concept in the West to parents, still.
So you have kids who get into anime and they get curious about Japanese culture because it’s different than the culture they grew up with in the West. They get crushes on characters and then, eventually those kids grow up and sometimes reach a point where they’re like, “Fuck it. I like it. I like hentai.” It’s the next step, it’s something you’ve always wanted! That’s why dating sims are so popular — it’s giving you a level of intimacy that is hard to come by for fans who tend to be introverted. Dating sims are popular because — 1: they’re fun; 2: the characters are cute; 3: you get one-on-one conversations, even if they’re pre-scripted. VTubing is if dating sims were so much better. The fact that there are virtual idols, these virtual characters that can have a one-on-one meaningful connection with you is amazing. Not only are they cute, not only do they interact with you, not only do they share the same hobbies as you, but you can get this whenever you want, and you can personally support them. There’s options like supporting VTubers on Patreon and getting to meet them. It’s like a dream, getting to meet your favorite anime character.
It’s definitely natural evolution, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted it, besides one or two genius sci-fi … oh! Like the author of Snow Crash! Um … uh … Neal Stephenson! I think he was the first person to extensively predict and describe VRChat.
The cover for Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash (Image via Random House)
Melody: Yeah! And also the presence of memes and body politics and becoming a new person. There’s also a huge connection between VRChat and the LGBT+ community, not just with people who are not just heteronormative heterosexual couplings, but also people whose minds are inconsistent with how they look. VRChat is a godsend for a person struggling with that because it lets you slip into something different. It provides a level of comfort. It’s not perfect, but now we have haptic suits, now we have more and more ways to become integrated and connect with people. It’s so different than five, ten years ago. It’s all about escaping that dissatisfaction and getting to these moments, these opportunities to go past yourself and feel your own sense of normalcy that you can cultivate on your own, then meeting other people around the world through that can be like, “Oh yeah man, same here.” They can relate and they can work with you, and it can be very therapeutic. But … also there can be people who are just like … “Ugandan Knuckles!” and they go into a room and give you seizures. There’s a lot of bullshit in there, but there’s also a lot of good things in there, too.
Yeah, I think one thing people don’t realize about VTubing and the audience relationship there is that it’s a lot more reciprocal than, as Nyanners put it, “people simping for anime PNGs.” It’s a deeper and way more give-and-take type of relationship than that.
Melody: It’s interactive.
Yeah. Yeah! It's interactive, exactly.
Okay, so I only have two more questions. We are almost ... we're almost done. The penultimate question is: Do you have any advice for people out there thinking of trying out VTubing?
Melody: Yes I do. My advice for people who want to not only be an entertainer, and not only an entertainer online, but be a virtual idol ...
First thing’s first. There are some people who go into streaming, especially if they are a certain level of what they consider attractive, because they think it will be easy. They think, “Oh, I’ll swoop in there. I’ll do things I don’t care about and make some money and yeet out.” That’s a horrible way to approach it, and if your heart isn’t there, people can tell. I think it’s kind of a waste of your existence to do something your heart isn’t in for the hope of a cash grab. I think that’s very fucky. I see VTubers as living art, we’re artists. You should do it because you genuinely love the idea, you genuinely want to see yourself thrive in this community, in this career. If it’s something you think is more than cool, if it’s something you want to see yourself doing in two years from now and nothing could make you happier than pursuing it, then I think it’s a great idea. If you’re interested for the right reasons, I would encourage you to pursue VTubing.
The second thing I’ll bring up is non-competition. Of course, we compare ourselves to other people and we draw ideas from other people — like, my original outfit and design was based off of Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell. My designer was really into Hyperdimension Neptunia, which is why I also look more like that. I've never seen it, so I didn't know, I didn't understand. But she was my original influence. So it's fine and awesome to create who you want to be through influences, but competing is bad. Full stop. It's not only bad, it's just annoying, but also it's bad for your soul.
VTubers often compare themselves to others. “Oh that person has 10,000 people in their room, I only have 20. I hate myself,” or, “Oh, that person is doing this right now. I should be doing that even though I don’t know how.” When we compare ourselves to others, there’s always going to be someone better. You could be the chess champion of the entire world and then later that month, the next greatest player will emerge. You gotta get that idea out of your head, the idea of, “I will never be good enough and I can never be the best of the best.” That means nothing at all.
It's your community that matters. It's your community and yourself that you need to be focusing on, not everyone else’s that you can't even affect or have a connection with. At that point, you're living your life for someone else, not for yourself, and I don't consider that living at all. That's just a burden. So definitely, if your heart is into it, jump into it. If you have passion. Not if you want a cash grab, not if you think all you can do is compare rather than working on yourself. So that's important.
Third thing: fuck em’, fuck ‘em, fuck ‘em. You're going to have haters because the internet hates cute anime girls. And if you're not a cute anime girl and you’re a different type of VTuber, they're just gonna hate you for being an anime character. Or they'll hate you for being on the internet, or they'll hate you for being popular, or they’ll hate you for having green eyes … green eyes, and liking banana smoothies. There's gonna be haters, and I'll admit in the beginning they absolutely broke me down. They did. They've said that just put the knife in and twist it. Some people really get off on the concept of hurting others. That’s a bully. They love it and they definitely got to me. But there was a lot of growth in that. I wasn’t perfect. I’m still not perfect. But I had to learn to accept what was happening and not let it affect me. Very mindful, like, “Yeah this is happening. I don’t like it. Is there anything I can do about it? Not really. Okay, so let’s try to exist without that being the thing controlling what I do every day.”
Fourth thing: never settle. That's just a concept I have for life. It’s something that I have on my phone, that I think about all the time. Settling is something the whole world puts on everyone, especially young people. In the West, today is built on debt culture. You always hear, “Get a side hustle!” or, “Put your loan inside a loan, then you’ll get this different loan … but this loan is sexy.” There is a lot of accommodating, a lot of struggling, a lot of settling because we’ve all been systematically put in this position. The world is trying to whittle you down and put you into a box that’s safe because you’re used to it and it’s easy. It’s extinguishing the flame that is your spirit, your passion, your goals, and it’s making you put up with it.
I think being a VTuber kicks that mindset to the curb. Not only is it the opposite of settling, VTubing is a true embrace of who you are. It’s taking yourself and cultivating a stronger identity and blasting through a door screaming, “This is who I am! Fuck off!” You walk in, you punch in the door and you’ve got big ol’ titties or something and you’re like, “Yes! Yes! Accept who I am! Oh? You don’t accept who I am? Well I don’t care and I’ll find someone and someplace that does!” If you don’t like who I am, you’re not my target audience. People who come in my chat will say, “Ugh, boring,” and I’ll say, “Cool. Why are you here? Go somewhere else where you’ll have fun. I feel bad for you. I dunno, get a fucking hobby, man”
But yeah. Being a VTuber is the opposite of settling, which the world is trying to make young adults do so that they'll be complacent and just walk through life like a wandering ghost or something. This is embracing all of your little eccentricities ... You're embracing it, you're showing it to the world, and you're confident in yourself and you're getting your bag, man. Yeah, it's pure confidence and not letting the world put you down and creating your own happiness.
Wow, I was expecting this interview to be good, but I wasn’t expecting to leave it with a renewed sense of life purpose.
For real! One of the interesting things that keeps coming up in this interview is being present in your life, and you’re so right about it. There are so many forces in this life that make money off of you not chasing your dream and sticking with this very specific pre-determined plan for your life. It’s so easy to just settle for comfort instead of following a passion or something like that. I think those things make it really easy to not be present in your life and think, “Oh well if I save up enough to do this … if I take out a loan to do this … if I do this … if I do this … then my future will be this,” instead of just, “Am I happy right now?”
Melody: Exactly! And that’s easier said than done, absolutely. But it is something to keep in the back of your head. A lot of our happiness — especially young adults in Western cultures — is fucking hard because we have debt from student loans, some people have families, some people have situations like having a disability where it’s hard to have solid ground to stand on. So many people, especially in my community, feel like the ground they’re standing on has a giant crack down the middle and you’re just waiting. So many people have this rocky starting place, or even beneath that where you’re thinking, “Man, I wish I had a cracked rock! That sounds so nice, fuck!” That’s just how it is right now. We’re all packaged data … Oh wow, I sound like a conspiracy theorist.
We’re all packaged data and these companies are very happy with that. They want us to spend what little money we have on things because “items make happy.” I have a friend who saves up all of his sick days. He goes into work sick as hell because he says, “In five years I’m going to go to fucking Universal Studios with my family because that’s what I want to do. That’s all I want.” I hate that that’s how it is right now. I hate it so much.
Changing that is easier said than done. I feel like I say this all the time, but Netflix is a huge contributor to the end of society. Netflix is this little burst of serotonin. You get sucked in, you go on your Netflix binges because it’s easy. It’s like soma in … was it the Iliad? Like with the lotus-eaters. It’s like pharmakon — it’s both the cure and the poison. If we didn’t have such a thing that provides such a dopamine high, I feel like we’d get off our asses and start talking a little louder, like, “Hey, I don’t like how things are right now. I’m unhappy.” But it’s made things easier … all of the modern conveniences that were originally meant to help us have distorted in a way that makes us complacent with a bad situation.
Jeez yeah, it’s like the opiate of the masses.
Melody: Yes it is! And then COVID made Uber Eats a huge thing and Amazon is Skynet … all of that. This is the shit I think about … sorry for going on. I’m not a conspiracy theorist! I just hate human suffering.
I totally get it! It’s like … I dunno it’s hard to get up and do something, and then you think about how long you haven’t done anything and it’s like … “Oh man, it would’ve been cool if I took that chance or tried to make that change when I had that opportunity, oh well.” But making a change today is better than making a change tomorrow, which is better than doing it the next day. It’s never too late to try and do something! But it’s easier to just say, “Nah I’m gonna sit down and watch Netflix tonight, I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Melody: It’s easy.
It is … Okay, my last question is: Is there anything else you would like to say to everyone before we say goodbye?
Melody: Oh bother … Okay, so I’ve noticed there’s a theme not only with VTubers, but with my group specifically. They want world domination, which I think is adorable. I do not. I have no interest in world domination because I’m so disorganized. But also … I’m looking for a few things. I’m working to cultivate my own happiness. Because happiness is not something you get through a vacation or an item. Happiness is something that you practice. I also want to humanize the adult industry and humanize the merging of anime and hentai and all of these different cultures … and just make the conversation less scary.
Sure, a lot of us were bullied when we were young, and that was bad, but now we’re adults and we need to accept ourselves. We need to accept others and understand that we’re all in it together. It’s not a big deal! It’s super hot sometimes … I want to create new things that have never existed before. We’ve already done that so far, and I’m excited to see what we will do next.
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Cayla Coats is the Editor-in-Chief of Crunchyroll News EN. She tweets @ceicocat.