What do streaming and anime have in common? Seems like it is cute anime girls. VTubers a combination of both, being streamers that use anime girl avatars instead of a camera. The biggest one on Twitch is Ironmouse, a Puerto Rican VTuber that looks like an anime girl version of Satan.
Ironmouse became one of Twitch's biggest streamers without even showing her face. What she shows is an anime girl avatar and her boisterous personality. This allowed her to dominate as the biggest VTuber on Twitch. But her story is not one of overnight success. She started her journey back in 2017, inspired by Kizuna AI, one of the first VTubers.
At that time, VTubing was niche, so there was only a specific group of people who enjoyed watching cute anime girls on stream doing cutesy stuff and calling them senpai. I may drop the fedora here, but I personally didn't expect VTubing to blow up the way it did. I mean, it is still considered niche, but Ironmouse's streams have an average amount of 8,400 viewers, so I guess it is successfully niche.
Ironmouse: Starting On Twitch As A VTuber
It was a rocky start, though. There were a lot of things holding her back from streaming. Personal issues and confidence issues made her second guess whether she could be successful as a streamer. She has been very public about all those issues, stating:
I saw so many people streaming and I went ‘I want to do that’ but I didn’t think anybody was going to watch me because I’m not fun and I don’t have the life experience to tell interesting stories. I didn’t think anything of it.
I was really nervous about showing myself because of my personal issues but I had a friend who introduced me to a program called FaceRig.
The personal issues she is referring to: her Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID) as well as a lung condition. Due to these illnesses, she was stuck inside for years, hooked up to oxygen. If I think about how lockdown made me feel in just two weeks, I begin to understand how much that must have sucked!
Glad she had some good friends helping her out, providing her with the tools to get into streaming and help her overcome her difficulties.
I was watching a lot of Kizuna AI and to me, it felt impossible because I would see her and think ‘man she must have a huge team and this is really expensive to do’. My friend comes in and she’s like ‘there’s a program called FaceRig, you can be an anime girl on the internet,’ and I’m like ‘no one is going to watch me’ but I guess everything happens
the way it did.
My friends wouldn't even get me instant noodles when I had COVID, kinda envious she has such great friends. And who wouldn't want to be an anime girl on the internet? Look at VR chat! There are tons of dudes picking the anime girl avatar! But back to the topic.
Ironmouse: How Streaming on Twitch Changed Her Life
VTubing helped Ironmouse stay in touch with the outside world. She could still communicate with people, even though it was via a camera and microphone. But the best part, once she started blowing up in 2020, it allowed her to afford better care and treatment for her health condition.
For most streamers, it is the other way around. Look at Mizkif, his health has been deteriorating since he started streaming.
Being more of an extroverted person, but forced to live more of an introverted lifestyle, was difficult. But VTubing allowed her to socialize again and be comfortable as herself in front of people. Okay, not exactly herself, but as an online persona, Ironmouse. On the other hand, she doesn't seem to separate the two all that strictly.
They’re two distinct identities, but they ultimately make up her being: “I see them as parts of a whole. There’s me — I am Ironmouse [the person], but there’s also Ironmouse [the streamer]. There’s two different versions of me. You know the ‘we have three wolves inside of us’ meme? I have like 20,000 wolves.”
It makes sense to say those two are two sides of the same coin. If I get drunk and make decisions I wouldn't make sober, I guess I technically would still be the same person.
We can say that for Ironmouse, streaming as a VTuber was very much a social thing, that helped her cope with the loneliness her health conditions caused her.
She herself put it best:
I feel streaming helps me a lot. It helps me with stress and it’s very important to me. Interacting with people is important to me
Btw. If you're wondering why there are so many quotes, I just think if I take the liberty to write an article about her, might as well give you guys her exact words, for example, about her sickness:
Ironmouse: A Success Story
It sure is cool, seeing someone that was struggling in life finally be successful. You could be spiteful and say it's just luck, but man, Ironmouse worked her digital butt off. You all probably heard of Ludwig's subathon that lasted a whooping 31 days, but hold your fedoras, Ironmouse also did a 31-day-subathon! And that with health issues! That's just really impressive.
Ironmouse describes her VTube avatar as armor, but to me, it seems more like a goddamn superpower. Not only has it allowed her to socialize again and make friends, it helped her grow as a person and even make a living.
August 4th marks her anniversary and man, what a success story it has been so far and hopefully, will be in the future.
My anniversary on August 4th is going to be crazy... you guys are coming right?? pic.twitter.com/M4pTqStcod— ironmouseVSHOJO (@ironmouse) July 22, 2022
It's interesting how portraying yourself as someone or something else, like I don't know, maybe a cute anime girl, can help you feel more like yourself. For Ironmouse, it sure has been a great success story. I doubt it would work that well for me, tho.