The first in a series of interviews with VShojo's lineup of VTubers
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 Nyanners' 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. What sticks out to me about Nyanners' Twitch streams is the way they can transform from a sincere, vulnerable talk about things that are important to her into something as absurd as a revenge-driven Minecraft reinactment of the Nibelheim Incident set to "One-Winged Angel."
We had the opportunity to talk with Nyanners about her career as a VTuber, the challenges of being in the public eye, and what it's like being an unfathomable being of horror disguised as a pink catgirl.
Crunchyroll: For any of our readers who might not be familiar, could you introduce yourself?
Nyatasha Nyanners: My name is Nyatasha Nyanners, I’m a VTuber who is an ancient evil eldritch abomination that is going to take over the world, and I love to play video games.
That actually leads into another question I had… What is a day in the life of an eldritch horror like?
Nyanners: I wake up, and I eat breakfast, and I torment many minds with my far-reaching otherworldly tentacles. Then I sit down and I enjoy myself some browsing of the interwebs. After that I go to work and stream and torment people some more, and their madness gives me energy.
So, is Twitch streaming sort of an extension of the mind tormenting?
Ah, I think you have some of my brain juice then. I hope it sustained you for a little bit.
Nyanners: Yeah, it was very delicious juice.
Thank you. It’s pretty barren up there, so I hope it tastes like something at least.
So, as an unknowable abomination, when did you discover video games and feel like, “oh this is nice, maybe I should do this more”?
Nyanners: Well, the real answer is that I discovered games properly through my family. My parents are both gamers and I grew up watching them play games. My dad actually got me a game for Christmas when I was 7 or 8 years old that kind of changed the trajectory of my life forever. It was Final Fantasy X and it became like my special interest. I became really invested in it and the world, characters, and the voice actors in particular. I was really fascinated by them! I looked them up and I was like, “wow! These people brought these characters that I love so much to life, but also so many other characters. They have so much range and they can do all of these things with their voice. I want to do that, too!” That led me down this path of finding out that I like acting and voice acting and entertainment in general. I want to entertain people and give people that same feeling I got when I was immersed in that world. I want to give people a world where they can come and laugh and forget about things that are bothering them and enjoy themselves. That’s why I went down this path where I voiced some characters in games and now I’m a Twitch streamer… I’m… I’m just a pink cat. I’m just a pink cat that wants to make people laugh! All because my dad got me that game.
My heart feels very expanded. That made me very happy to hear!
Nyanners: I’m glad!
Nyanners playing Final Fantasy X during a recent marathon stream (VOD here)
I’ve always felt like there was something about anime and video games that really resonates with people all over the world. What do you think it is about them that connects so many people with the art but also each other in such a special way?
Nyanners: It’s probably because a lot of anime and a lot of games like JRPGs tend to have themes of misfit people coming together to overcome a common goal. Whether it’s rising above everyone else in the ninja village or killing god together—all these different people being brought together as one and using the power of friendship… I think a lot of people are moved by that. They can see themselves in these characters and it makes them want to reach out to various other people in the world who feel the same way.
I totally agree! I don’t know if it was just this way when I was growing up, but there was something about a lot of American cartoons that felt very… decided by a marketing algorithm, where it didn’t feel that way with anime.
Nyanners: Yeah. Anime, because it’s so limitless and you can do so much with it, feels like it’s made the way it is because it’s fun and people wanted to create this world and these kinds of people that live in it. It’s just fascinating and filled with possibilities!
I think something similar can be said for VTubing, too. I think VTubers connect to that same place that people feel when they watch anime. Like you said, there’s this sense of “anything can happen!” and it isn’t decided by a large corporation. Is there anything you feel is unique about VTubing in the way it connects to people?
Nyanners: It allows people that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do things like streaming or putting themselves out there without this kind of interface with the world. I know a lot of people that may have illnesses or anxiety or any other kind of life circumstance where it isn’t certain whether they’re able to do normal streaming or a “normal job,” and VTubing has allowed them to express themselves through becoming whatever they want to become with unlimited creativity and reach out to people in that way. It’s hard to explain! I’m a very shy person and I don’t think I’d be able to put myself out there if I wasn’t... pink cat. It’s like a mask, but not in a way that hides you—it’s a mask that brings you out even more. When people talk to each other with masks like that, they can reach into each other’s hearts more closely in a way because they aren’t afraid of being judged. They aren’t afraid of whatever might be holding them back.
That said, VTubing seems like it can be very overwhelming! When you’re VTubing, you have to handle a lot of stuff at the same time—you have to entertain an audience, you sometimes have to shift between short and long hair and other different forms, you sometimes have to play video games, you sometimes have to change background music… there are lots of things you have to do! Is it challenging doing all of that or is it more like second nature now?
Nyanners: Oh gosh… when you list it all out like that, it really occurs to me that it’s pretty overwhelming! So, I have a cat brain and I don’t know how I handle so many different things at once… I guess I just go into a meditative state and just do it! I love being an internet clown. I love spinnin’ the plates and jugglin’ the balls. Sometimes it’s tough to handle playing a game, being entertaining, talking with my chat and making conversation with them and making sure they’re having a good time, doing all the background music, adjustments, and general streaming stuff… Actually, I have a thing on my Twitch channel that I got help setting up with fugi.tech so people can use their channel points to automatically change my hairstyle and stuff. It will magically go bwaaah! And suddenly my hair is short! I can do it manually, too, by thinking very hard and using my psychic powers.
Some of Nyanners' channel point redeems on her Twitch channel
I noticed when those channel point redeems got added! It’s such a good idea.
Nyanners: Yeah, I like that there’s a way for people who lurk or people who don’t want to spend money to interact. I feel bad forcing people to spend money for just… me sitting there playing a game and stuff. If people want to support me in that way, I really appreciate it! But I like including a way for people to participate and have fun without having to spend a dime. The channel points are super helpful for that! On my channel they’re called “forbidden nyawledge!” It’s like insight in Bloodborne–the more they watch me, the more their mind gets corrupted.
Yeah, I have a few thousand forbidden nyawledge and when I walk around sometimes I see ghastly visages of horror in the sidewalk.
Nyanners: That’s my favorite.
I should probably spend more of it so it doesn’t build up so much.
Nyanners: You gotta get that happy medium! I do like to see some tentacle appendages in my day-to-day life. I like to keep a healthy balance of racking up those points inside my head.
Are there any misconceptions about VTubing that you’ve noticed, or things about VTubing you wish more people knew about?
Nyanners: Some people scoff at VTubers and they just reduce it to, “oh it’s just a bunch of anime girls and people simping for .pngs.” Sure, people do love VTubers a lot, but people love VTubers for a lot of different reasons! People are inspired by VTubers, people discover new things through VTubers and discover things about themselves… they meet friends through VTubers, discover that maybe even they want to be a VTuber themselves! They overcome problems through VTubing… it’s just a lovely community full of people who just want to support each other. I love all of my friends in VShojo and beyond, independent VTubers, too. We all support each other and we all inspire each other. There’s so much unity! We all come from backgrounds where, in some way, we feel different. Through VTubing we can feel like we belong. I feel like a lot of people who watch VTubers feel the same way, too. They feel like a misfit or an outcast and, through VTubing, they can feel like they have a place to go to, a place to belong. I just think that’s really precious and it’s something I wish more people would understand instead of just scoffing at it and assume it’s just .jpegs of anime girls or assume that it’s something naughty or seedy! It’s just fun, people are just having fun and making people laugh!
There’s limitless possibilities. I’m amazed when I see what people do and achieve through VTubing. I’m a big fan of Hololive EN—Kiara and Mori Calliope to name a few—I love their music and energy and creativity! It feels so good to see people given a way to express themselves like this and conquer the world in a way they didn’t feel like was possible before. I myself still feel like this is totally surreal and I don’t quite know how I got here. I got discovered by a lot of people for whatever reason and now I’m here! I’ve come so far from where I was just last year and I feel humbled by it. I’m just so grateful and feel so lucky to have gotten where I am. I’m looking up to everyone else and feel like I want to get better and better. I see everyone else working hard and coming up with cool ideas and it inspires me so much! I love how creative and supportive VTubing is, it’s like a big family. I love the feeling of belonging.
Growing up I didn’t have very many friends… I don’t want to start a pity party because I’m not alone in that, I know a lot of people had that experience in school, but going from someone that was shy and felt like I didn’t want to speak up because it didn’t feel like there was a point or reason for my voice to be heard to speaking and being heard by people who want to listen and who do care is something I cherish a lot. I love VTubing because it gave me a place to belong, and I didn’t feel like I had a place to belong before. Sorry for rambling!
Oh my god, no you’re fine! That was a great answer. There’s this YouTube video I watched recently where someone describes making art or putting big parts of yourself online as basically like breaking off a piece of your soul and sharing it with people. And it can be hard because a part of you sort of belongs to a bunch of people now. But I think your willingness to be able to share that part of yourself is why so many people respond to you and other VTubers. You’re touching other people in a really important way!
Nyanners: Oh goodness… thank you. It’s hard sometimes. Like you said, when you do something like this, you’re putting a piece of yourself out there, and some people take that piece and it’s strange how they can warp it into something completely different. The way they see you can be very different from the way you see yourself, so much that you ask, “how are people getting this kind of impression from me?” It gets you caught up in feelings of self doubt. While that does suck, it is rewarding to see people take that piece of yourself into their own life and get inspired to take on challenges they thought they weren’t able to before or do something similar with their life. I like that aspect a lot. Being able to touch people’s lives in that way is really important to me. I love being able to give people a place to unwind and have fun and get their mind off of things that are bothering them currently.
There is a lot of that going around recently with the pandemic… I’m sure everyone’s tired of talking about the pandemic at this point, but that’s another part of why VTubing exploded so much! Everyone is so worried and there’s this crushing anxiety hanging over the whole world for the past few years because of all of this. People found an oasis in VTubing because VTubing is about having fun and creating a world where people can just be themselves and spread magic everywhere! It’s like healing media in a way, the Japanese word for it is iyashikei I think. I always say VTubing kind of reminds me of a comfy slice-of-life anime because it’s just cute people doing cute things! Maybe they’re not even cute, you can be a really big, muscular dragon or something… but that in itself is still cute to me… that’s just me!
Nyanners: Yeah, I love Bigfoot! I just love big monsters. I’m really into the Soulsborne games… I like really monstrous, terrible looking designs. I look at them and I think, “oh, you are my baby and I love you.”
Yeah, I totally get it! I have a lot of friends who think giant monsters are really cute.
I only have two more questions, and the first one is—do you have any advice for people who are thinking of trying out VTubing?
Nyanners: Advice… hmm… I would say, just get in there! Don’t worry about doing it the right way—do it the way that feels the most fun to you. VTubing is supposed to be fun! Just start making stuff! I know it’s scary. When you make stuff online, you’re putting a piece of yourself out there and it can feel very vulnerable. When you put yourself out there you feel so seen by everyone and people can criticize you and say, “oh, you’re being cringe.” But don’t be afraid of being cringe! Life is cringe. Everything is cringe. It’s ok. Just have fun and you’ll see where you go from there! It will be a nice journey. I’m really bad at giving advice.
What, no! That was great!
Nyanners: To anyone who wants to be a VTuber, I’m very excited for you! Whenever I hear that someone wants to start being a VTuber, I’m like, “oh god! Yes! Fresh blood!”
Yeah!! Okay, last question. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Nyanners: Yes! We’re gonna make it!
Here’s the question—is there anything you would like to say to everyone in general before we say goodbye?
Nyanners: Everyone in general?!
Yeah, everyone who’s reading this article, at least.
Nyanners: Everyone who’s reading this article… Thank you for supporting VTubers! Thank you for supporting anime! Because anime is… beautiful. And I love it and all it has been able to do for everyone in the world. And I hope you have a nice day. Also thank you to Cayla and Crunchyroll… I’m on my knees praying…
Oh my god NO. Don’t thank me, it was such a pleasure to talk with you, thank YOU for talking with me today!
Other articles in this series:
Cayla Coats is the Editor-in-Chief of Crunchyroll News EN. She tweets @ceicocat.