7 things you need to know to enjoy Japanese VTuber streaming(Not 7 Yet)

This article is a compilation of trivia for overseas VTuber fans should know to enjoy Japanese VTuber’s Streaming. This article is written in English only. No Japanese version is available. This article may or may not be updated in the future.

1: “Kushami Tasukaru.” does not mean the same thing as “Bless you.”

When a VTuber sneezes without muting in his/her streaming, the comment “Kushami Tasukaru (くしゃみ助かる、Your sneeze helps me.)” may be seen.

In the West, it is customary to say “(God)Bless You” when someone sneezes, and “Kushami Tasukaru” is uttered in the same situation, leading to the misunderstanding that “Bless You” and “Kushami Tasukaru” mean the same or similar things, but they are two very different things.

Since “Kushami Tasukaru” has a somewhat vulgar meaning of “I am excited to hear you sneeze”, you should be careful not to use it in the same sense as “Bless You” IRL, since it can get you into trouble.

In addition, the following article is excellent in its discussion of “Kushami Tasukaru”. (written in Japanese)

2: “Sensitive” is the same meaning as “lewd” in the JP VTuber community, and the reason why

When Japanese VTubers say “sensitive (センシティブ )” in their streaming, they mostly mean “lewd”.

There is a theory that the reason for this is related to warning messages of X (formerly Twitter). X is a popular social media in Japan, not only among VTubers and their fans. Most of the content judged as “sensitive” on the Japanese X scene are lewd illustrations and photos, and thus the image of “sensitive” = “lewd” has taken root in Japan.

Warning messages of X (formerly Twitter) in Japanese

There is also a theory that Japanese people confuse “sensitive” and “sensual” because many of them are not good at English.

Incidentally, the three really sensitive topics in the Japanese entertainment scene are politics, religion, and baseball.

3: The reason why “laugh” is written as “w” or “kusa” in Japanese

The English word “laugh” is “warau/warai” (笑う/笑い) in Japanese. The initial letter was taken from “warau/warai” and is now written as “w”.

The “w” is often used in a plural number like “www,” and since it looks like grass, it has come to be expressed and written as “kusa” (草、which means “grass”). When said orally, it is usually pronounced as “kusa”.

When a large number of “w “s are added, as in “wwwwwwww”, the word “dai-sou-gen” (大草原, which means “grassland” or “prairie”) is sometimes used. Compared to English, “kusa” is almost synonymous with “lol” and “prairie” with “lmao”. English speakers sometimes say “Big kusa” for prairie, following Japanese.

While “w” can only be added at the end of a sentence as a kind of symbol, “grass” can be used in ordinary sentences or conversations (of course, it cannot be used in formal situations).

4: What is “oshi (推し)”?

Oshi(推し) is the noun form of the verb “osu”(推す).

The word “osu” originally means “to encourage others to use someone or something that you think is valuable,” but it also come to be used to mean “a person or something that you support”. Oshi is a word often used, especially among young people, to refer to celebrities, athletes, etc.

Even in the VTuber fan community, people refer to the talents they particularly like as oshi or “oshi-mem”(推しメン, meaning “oshi member”). Also, “hako-oshi”(箱推し) means to support the entire group to which the talent belongs.

And “oshi-katsu”(推し活、meaning “oshi-activity”) means to enjoy the contents of the oshi(watching streamings, participating in events, buying goods, etc.).

Similar expressions in English include “fav” and “fave”(originally “favorite”).

5: What is “tensei (転生)”?

In Japanese VTubers space, the term “tensei(転生)” refers to the process of ending one’s activity and redebuting with a different new character.

Tensei is a Buddhist term for “rinne-tenshou(輪廻転生, reincarnation)”, meaning that a creature repeatedly lives and dies and is reborn into a new life. Although Japanese people are not necessarily Buddhists, Buddhist culture and way of thinking are so deeply rooted in Japanese life that many believe in the idea of reincarnation.

However, it is not based on the idea of reincarnation that VTubers change their names and appearances when they redebut. This is due to the business reason that a character’s name and appearance belong to a company or organization as intellectual property and cannot be used when the character makes another debut in a different company or organization.

On the other hand, there are gradually increasing cases where VTubers transfer between companies, or when a VTuber leaves a company and starts their own individual activity, the company or the VTuber their buys the rights and continues their activity without changing his/her name or appearance.

Note that it is taboo among Japanese VTuber fans to call reincarnated VTubers by their old names.

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