Cover have announced the graduation dates of their Hololive China VTubers, effectively closing the Chinese Hololive branch.
As we reported previously, Hololive VTubers Akai Haato and Kiryu Coco were suspended after broadcasting viewer data on their stream, including data about their Taiwanese audience.
The inclusion of Taiwan as an independent country in Google Analytics caused a backlash in Chinese viewers; as they must adhere to the government’s “One China” Policy which considers Taiwan and Hong Kong as wayward Chinese territories.
Cover, the company behind HoloLive, explained the reason for the suspension as merely sharing sensitive data and have done their best to sidestep any conversation about Taiwan’s sovereignty.
Despite the suspension, Chinese activists wanted harsher penalties for the two streamers with some calling for Coco’s “retirement.” Japanese idols in real life often “graduate;” acting as their final show or performance before retiring from the job. This also gives a positive atmosphere over a terminated contract, which usually comes from being fired after controversy or breach of contract.
After the incident, Kiyru Coco’s name had allegedly been censored on some Chinese media platforms, including the in-game chat of Genshin Impact (which also censored mention of Taiwan and Hong Kong).
Cover welcomed back the two VTubers after a three week suspension (October 19th). Cover explained the reasoning behind the suspension and attributed it to a “miscommunication.” Meanwhile Cover has also rebuked the harassment and threats directed at Akai Haato and Kiryu Coco as a result of the controversy.
Many had suspected Cover’s motivations for the suspension was making sure there would be no controversy with the Hololive China branch (HoloCN); announced in October 2019 with debut streams of six VTubers in the following months on Bilibili and YouTube.
On October 22nd, HoloCN VTuber Civia streamed an announcement that HoloCN was folding; according to an English post on the Hololive subreddit. Civia reportedly stated that Cover were hoping to make decisions before the end of October, and that all HoloCN VTubers would become independent while owning their characters, transferred to another company, or graduate.
Civia: Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020
Artia: Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020
Yogiri: Sunday, Dec. 19, 2020
Doris: Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020
Rosalyn: Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020
While far from confirmed, it is suspected that the controversy over the Taiwan incident combined with the demands of the Chinese audience and alleged harassment put Cover in a position to choose between their Japanese audience and talent, or their new Chinese audience. If true, the former certainly won out.
UPDATE: Another factor may have been one of the HoloCN VTubers allegedly encouraging abuse. On May 5th (prior to the Haato and Coco incident), Artia allegedly encouraged her viewers to partake in “campaigns”- harassment by Chinese users against those who have acted “inappropriately”- and that she had partook in such “patriotic” campaigns herself.
There are also unconfirmed claims that Artia encouraged abuse against Hololive and especially Coco after the incident; but this information comes via screencaps of tweets that have since been deleted (if they ever existed at all).
However; we must emphasize that along with the video above relying on third party translation, the people of China are under a “social credit” system, not to mention extreme scrutiny from authorities. As such, showing extreme dedication to the government is a matter of survival for many in China, rather than a choice.
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Others theorized that HoloCN had not generated as much popularity and profit as Cover had hoped. For comparison, and as of this time of writing, HoloStats shows that Civia is the only HoloCN VTuber to be within the top 45 most subscribed Hololive YouTube Channels. However, it should be noted this may be biased as HoloCN’s primary audience would be on Bilibili.
Even so, the debut of Hololive’s English VTubers has made waves, especially thanks to Gawr Gura. She currently has has over 1.31 million subscribers. The crown of Hololive English’s crown, her debut on September 13th of this year saw her become the most subscribed Hololive member on YouTube just 37 days later.
By October 22nd, she became the first Hololive member to reach one million subscribers; and the third VTuber to achieve it (the others being Kizuna Ai and Kaguya Luna). She is also the first English VTuber to reach this feat.
As such, it is possible that while the English speaking VTubers had fresh accolades, HoloCN paled in comparison despite the large population of China and other Chinese speaking territories.
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