The Haachama Experiment

[embedded content]

The first Virtual YouTuber to really pull me into Hololive was none other than Akai Haato, aka Haachama. She’s currently on an indefinite break for health reasons, so I wanted to support her even when she’s not streaming by writing about why she’s still an all-time favorite of mine.

As Hololive continues to grow, it pulls in more and more ridiculously creative people. Whether it’s through singing and dancing, language skills, gaming ability, comedic chops, charisma, or more, they prove time and again to be a collection of extremely talented individuals. 

Haachama is not exceptionally strong in most categories—more a Jack of All Trades. However, there are a couple areas where she outshines just about everyone else: experimentation and adaptation.

To VTuber fans, the roller coaster that is the Haachama experience is well known at this point. Originally joining Hololive to play a tsundere high school girl, she began to take on an increasingly unhinged character personality as she spent four years abroad in Australia, including during the height of COVID. Her experimentation during this time with videos and editing was in part her making the best of a bad situation, i.e. notoriously terrible Australian internet, but it nevertheless laid the foundation for much of Haachama’s fame. The Haachama Cooking videos, where she would confidently and genuinely demonstrate some of the biggest culinary crimes, are just one example of the lengths she’s willing to go. 

[embedded content]

Fans began to joke that Akai Haato the tsundere  and Haachama the unbridled horror were actually two different personalities, with the latter overpowering the former. They even created fanart about it. But then one day, Haachama began to stream as Haato again, using her old catchphrases that she had long since rejected. This culminated in what’s known as the #Coexist Arc, where Haachama seemed to imply that Haato and Haachama were actually sisters who went through some kind of unspeakable tragedy, and that both personalities now inhabit the same body while battling for supremacy. In practical terms, the result is that she now sometimes streams Haato-style (more mellow and relaxed) and sometimes Haachama-style (manic and intense).

In other words, Haachama took a joke from the fans, added her own spin on it to create a kind of semi-interactive lore, and then parlayed it into a way to expand her repertoire and not get boxed into one way of being. Very few Hololive members or even VTubers in general are willing to take such risks with their branding and image, yet Haachama seems to experiment endlessly with what she can be. 

[embedded content]

It’s important to note, though, that Haachama is also fairly shrewd. She has mentioned that the reason she started changing her character was in  order to fill a hole in what Hololive lacked at the time, and her decision was to be a little more “Nijisanji.” The two companies are somewhat defined by their inaugural VTubers—Hololive with Tokino Sora as ideal idol and Nijisanji with the elegantly crass Tsukino Mito—and Haachama as unpredictable idol carries shades of both. This is her adaptability in action.

I previously compared Haachama to the late pro wrestler Brian Pillman because of how his drastic change from white-meat babyface to loose cannon was similar to hers. Since then, it’s clear to me that she’s more of a Matt Hardy—being performers who repeatedly reinvent themselves to either keep up or defy the times. “Haachama the Eldritch entity” is not that far off from the bizarre and imaginative transformation of “Broken” Matt Hardy and the way Matt would play with history and expectations. Neither seem to be satisfied settling into one mode of performance.

I don’t necessarily love everything Haachama does. There are times when she swings big and misses. But even when one stream or project flops, I enjoy seeing Haachama continue to try new things. One prominent example is how she no longer releases Haachama Cooking videos where she eats weird ingredients (like tarantulas) and approaches food with zero practical kitchen skills. Instead, she has moved towards making real progress in actual meal preparation. I miss the absurdity but love her adventurousness.

[embedded content]

Haachama pushes boundaries, always seemingly looking for avenues of change. It can be rough for her when things don’t turn out as she intended, but her ability to entertain and renew herself is hard to match. It might make her branding a bit inconsistent, but that plays into her presence all the more. Sometimes, she’s so unpredictable that she does the most predictable thing. I hope that whenever she makes a full recovery, she can come back and still be proud of what she’s accomplished.

Happy birthday, Haachama.

About the Author

Connect with us
2024 EDM Junkies. All Rights Reserved.