Love Thy Nerd
Love Nerds + Engage Culture + Build Community

Staying Grounded Amidst the NIJISANJI Drama

If you’ve been following the VTuber scene, you know that NIJISANJI has had a slew of controversies recently and the fandom is deteriorating. For the uninitiated, VTubers is short for “Virtual Youtubers,” streamers who use anime avatars and pseudonyms instead of their real faces and names. NIJISANJI is one of the largest VTuber talent agencies and is based in Japan. It’s hard for anyone to engage in the NIJISANJI fandom and not be affected by the drama. As a fellow fan, I want to help you understand how we got here, put a name to these complicated feelings, and offer hope in the face of uncertainty.

Fan Art

What Happened

On February 5, 2024, NIJISANJI fired one of their VTubers, Selen Tatsuki, over a month after she had attempted to take her own life after, as she claimed in a tweet, being in a toxic workplace environment. In their termination notice, NIJISANJI revealed that Selen had privately claimed that other NIJISANJI Livers (VTubers) had been bullying her. NIJISANJI quickly dismissed those claims in the same document, stating “[we] firmly believe that we and other Livers under our affiliation have not engaged in unjust practices towards Selen Tatsuki.”

There was great public outcry. Fans went on a witch hunt to find the purported bullies. A prominent brand ended their partnership with NIJISANJI in solidarity with Selen, and hundreds of thousands of NIJISANJI followers withdrew their subscriptions. NIJISANJI’s stock fell. 

A week later, three NIJISANJI Livers, on behalf of the entire English branch (Niji-EN), went on camera to defend their side of the story. And the CEO of the parent company, ANYCOLOR, released a video statement in which he apologized for upsetting fans and made promises (arguably vague) to improve the situation. And more information is coming to light.

The State of Fandom

Who is innocent? Who is at fault? Fans are divided over who to believe. 

Many are on Selen’s side. They see the high number of talents leaving NIJISANJI in the past year as a major indicator of NIJISANJI’s dysfunction and consider Selen’s termination the final straw that broke the camel’s back. Many of these NIJISANJI critics still care for the agency’s talents (aside from the ones they suspect are bullies), and they fear that more Livers will suffer from the bullying and general mismanagement that Selen described. So they’ve decided to stop supporting NIJISANJI entirely. They’ve stopped watching NIJISANJI Livers, buying NIJISANJI merchandise, cosplaying, making fanart or video clips, all of it. It’s their way of saying that they don’t support the way NIJISANJI treats its talents. They hope that by applying social and financial pressure, NIJISANJI will give a real apology, improve their management, and show ways they’ve meaningfully improved their talents’ livelihood. And some people do more than just ban NIJISANJI. . They accuse people who sell NIJISANJI fanart or even simply enjoy NIJISANJI content as contributing to the problem.

And then there are people who have taken NIJISANJI’s side. They approve of the company’s actions, and they believe in the VTubers that spoke in the Niji-EN video. Those VTubers got a lot of push back; just go to the official video and you’ll see in the comments section, it’s full of critics accusing them of being Selen’s bullies. In response, many NIJISANJI fans rallied together and flooded X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube’s comment sections with supportive messages. In an effort to defend NIJISANJI, some people have circulated their own theory of what is happening – they think Selen misinterpreted people’s actions as harassment. And others have taken things a step further – sharing a blacklist of people who have criticized NIJISANJI so their whole community can block them.

Fans who care strongly on either side want to control the narrative. They want everyone to take their side, publicly supporting the good guys (Selen or NIJISANJI) and canceling the bad guys (NIJISANJI or Selen). And they resort to shaming the people who don’t take the same actions. 

The social pressure to conform is unhealthy and controlling, but I understand the urgency. When enough people set their minds to do something, they can move mountains. History has proven this. Public opinion has shaped laws and changed the way companies conduct their business. Public opinion is power.

And if there’s not enough people behind that public opinion, then NIJISANJI’s situation might not improve. For the NIJISANJI critics, that means that NIJISANJI won’t be motivated to change its toxic work environment. For the NIJISANJI devotees that means that some VTubers may be forced to quit to escape public harassment, or even worse –  NIJISANJI’s English branch would lose profitability and be forced to shut down. 

And neither side wants that to happen. NIJISANJI was our world. It was our happy place, a break from real world problems, where VTubers were happy and in a supportive agency. Our favorite talents were good people. Now, none of these things are certain. 

I think we’re all grieving a death of sorts. We can’t look at NIJISANJI the same way anymore. What attracted many of us to NIJISANJI in the first place was the close-knit community of VTubers. Each wave that debuted was its own family unit, and the wave that came after it was like their children. They’d visit each other in person, arrange large group collabs, and they’d show up to each other’s streams to wish each other happy birthday and happy anniversary. That was the biggest attraction of large VTuber agencies – the built-in family unit. Now it’s obvious… they weren’t a great big happy family after all. The alleged bullying and Selen’s suicide attempt was the greatest demonstration of that. 

All sides of the fandom are grieving. Both sides are doing whatever they can to restore the part of NIJISANJI that they loved so much. And they’re afraid it won’t be enough.

Meanwhile, some people have given up hoping things will change. They’re disgusted with NIJISANJI and now they simply want to #sinktheyacht.

But there is hope. God can make kingdoms rise and fall. He can heal all wounds. And he can change hearts. So what if we prayed for NIJISANJI – the company, its Livers, and the entire VTuber fandom? What if we invited the God of the universe into the VTuber world and asked Him to intervene?

© Aselta Cotton

A Prayer for NIJISANJI

Dear Lord, I thank you that even this – my obscure part of the internet – even this you care about. I lift this messy situation into your hands. I can only see a fraction of what is going on, but God, you see everything. You know everything that has happened behind the scenes, and you know the intentions of every heart. You are the perfect judge. You see the truth.

Please bring justice for those wronged. Please stop any pattern of harassment from repeating – whether that be fan to fan, fan to VTuber, agency staff to VTuber, or VTuber to VTuber. And humble the wrong-doers, convict them of the wrong they’ve done, and guide them to seek forgiveness and make amends. May they receive the consequences of their actions, grieve over their sins and not repeat their ways but learn from it. May they change and become an agent of compassion and kindness. May they have a second chance, just as You have given me a second chance.

I lift up all of the VTubers who have received hateful comments. The very nature of streaming puts VTubers in such a vulnerable position – they are interacting with people’s unfiltered opinions for hours at a time, and I know the overwhelming amount of hatred can damage their psyche. Even if the VTubers were harassing Selen, Lord I know this is not the way you want fans to respond. Please protect the VTubers’ hearts. May they find refuge in you and discover that your love for them surpasses any person’s opinion.

I pray for all the VTubers within NIJISANJI English. Please make them a close community that supports and cares for each other. Make it a community where people feel safe enough to speak up when they’ve been hurt and where people are encouraged to own their mistakes and seek to understand. 

I pray for the leaders of NIJISANJI. Give them wisdom and an even greater care for their talents. Please help them navigate language and cultural barriers so they can better understand their talents. If there isn’t already, please equip NIJISANJI with knowledgeable people and resources to help identify and address workplace harassment. May the managers be advocates for their talents. If there are any problems within the company culture, please root it out. God, I doubt this company will change on its own, but if You act, it will happen! 

I lift up what was the NIJISANJI fandom and what is now divided parts: fans canceling NIJISANJI, fans defending NIJISANJI, and fans somewhere in between. Comfort us in our grief and help us to stop trying to control that which is outside of our control. God, please ease the tensions on all sides and bring peace, so that different opinions can coexist. Make the VTuber fandom space a welcoming space, one that is gentle – not harsh or quick to judge, one that lifts up VTubers and doesn’t tear them down.

Lord, if anyone has been bullied and is triggered by the NIJISANJI news, please draw near to them. Heal their wounds. Make something good come out of all that mess. Make their hearts strong enough to stop the next bully that crosses their paths.

And finally, God, please guide my steps. Show me how I can bring about change in the right ways. And help me to trust you with the results. Amen.

© @partyG00N

Where Do We Go From Here

Over a month has passed since I started writing this article and still more claims about NIJISANJI (and its talents) are coming to light. The news may leave you disillusioned. Behind the avatars, VTubers are only human. Any abuse they may inflict on another person is intolerable, and as humans, every single one of us has done terrible things. We are liars, hypocrites, sycophants, racists, bullies, and more. We have all hurt someone, and none of it is acceptable. Yet Christ has paid the ultimate price to forgive the weight of our sin. Now God, the judge of humanity, has forgiven us. And Christ has carved a pathway out of our perpetual messed-up selves. He has restored our relationship with God. A loving, ongoing relationship with God has the power to soften and convict hearts, stir up compassion, foster a true and lasting desire to do good and make amends, and inspire good deeds.

So pray for justice, pray for healing, pray for change. And give grace. To err is human. To apologize and start over is a work of God.

Gwen Leong is a writer from San Francisco, CA. She is also the NorCal Director of Jesus Otaku. Gwen is a fan's fan. Talk to her about fanzines, podfics, fanfilms, and cosplay cafes, and she'll disintegrate into a puddle of joy. You can find her on Instagram @hellogwello.

Reader Comments

Related Content

Why Hope Must Fuel Action – The Emotional Spectrum Part 3: Blue

In this third reflection from the Green Lantern comics "Emotional Spectrum," we see how powerful hope is, but how to do any good, it must be pair with purposeful action and will.

My Voyage to Empathy: Psychosis and Star Wars’ Jake Lloyd

Overcoming Fear – The Emotional Spectrum Part 2: Yellow

In this second reflection from the Green Lantern comics "Emotional Spectrum," we see how our own Fear is a powerful, crippling force, and how we can overcome it.

The Power Source Behind Our Will – The Emotional Spectrum Part 1: Green

In this first reflection from the Green Lantern comics "Emotional Spectrum," we see how our own Willpower is not enough, and why we need to tap into a larger power source.

Drawing Out Fear: Mastery, Legacy, and Service in The Boy and The Heron

What If…? Season 2 & Embracing Unanswerable Questions with Faith

Steve shares his thoughts about the arc of two characters in What If...? (Season 2), and how they showcase two different approaches to the question.

The Flash & the Past

CJ shares with us how the heart of The Flash (2023) actually hits strong with a powerful message of how the past can be either a prison or a launchpad.

The Lost Art of Boredom