Waifu Wednesday: Amelia Watson

Okay, okay, Amelia isn’t a game character, but the majority of her streams since her debut for Hololive English have been video game-related, so she totally counts. Plus in terms of design and concept I think she’s one of the most interesting English Hololive girls, and I want to talk about that while it’s still a hot topic.

Introduced to the world through probably the most chaotic of the group’s debut streams, and subsequently capturing the hearts of many through her knowledgeable, enthusiastic, occasionally endearingly incompetent and consistently comfortable broadcasts, Amelia, in many ways, feels like something of a “hub” around which the rest of Hololive English has been built — whether this was intentional or not.

But there are some aspects to her design that run a little deeper than just “cute girl plays video games”. So let’s take a closer look — as well as appreciating some of the recent fanart from creators around the globe!

Fanart by Vitaminechan. Support the artist on Pixiv.

By the time Amelia’s debut stream rolled around on the 12th of September 2020, she had already been up for a very long time supporting her fellow streamers in their respective debuts. The end result of this was that her own debut was filled with slightly delirious, giggly nonsense, plus a hallucinogenic latter half that, whether or not it was planned to be an interactive, live shitpost, certainly stuck in everyone’s memory long after the fact.

When I was initially watching Amelia’s debut, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this sort of overt wackiness — but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it was actually entirely appropriate and fitting for the character concept.

Fanart by Shiina Aoi. Support the artist on Pixiv.

For the unfamiliar, the concept of the five Hololive English girls is that they are all, in some way, drawn from popular mythology. Takanashi Kiara is a phoenix; Ninomae Ina’nis is a human that has somehow taken on Lovecraftian tentacle monster aspects; Gawr Gura is an Atlantean; Mori Calliope is a reaper; and Amelia is clearly based on a combination of Sherlock Holmes, his long-suffering assistant John Watson, and the sort of hard-boiled character who often forms the centrepiece of modern Lovecraftian narratives.

There are a number of ways in which Amelia’s debut stream encapsulated these concepts nicely, and most of them centre around the hallucinogenic “Watson’s Concoction” drug she injected into her stream around the halfway mark.

Fanart by Shuuzo. Support the artist on Twitter.

Firstly, if we look back at Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes stories, we see a remarkable man who, over time, found himself gripped by drug addiction; early in the tales, it is suggested that Holmes only indulged in his cocaine habit recreationally and never during cases, but in 1904’s The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter, Watson describes Holmes as being caught in the midst of a “drug mania” that threatened his very career — and moreover, claims to have cured him, though he also acknowledges that “the fiend was not dead, but sleeping”.

Secondly, if we contemplate the Lovecraftian mythos that feels like a backdrop to much of Hololive English, we see a variety of protagonists who find themselves having to deal with dwindling sanity as a result of otherworldly encounters, either direct or indirect. Of course, real-world “sanity” is much more complex than it is often depicted in media, but the hallucinogenic imagery in the latter half of Amelia’s debut is a convenient, recognisable, easily understandable shorthand for someone who has lost their grip on reality. And, as someone who has supposedly been “investigating” the other Hololive girls, it’s entirely appropriate for Amelia to be depicted as someone who has maybe seen one or two things she wishes she hadn’t.

Fanart by Bailingxiao Jiu. Support the artist on Pixiv.

At heart, though, all five Hololive English girls are entertainers, so Amelia appears to have suffered no long-term effects from whatever her past in-universe experiences might have been; genuine trauma and mental scars somewhat run counter to the “entertainment” concept, after all. In fact, many of her subsequent streams have been extremely relaxed and laid back, with many viewers particularly enjoying her playthrough of curious perspective-bending first-person puzzle game Superliminal. I certainly appreciated her playing it in the exact way I play those sorts of games — exploring everywhere in an unnecessary amount of detail, and poking every physics object it’s possible to poke.

But if we’re to read even deeper, we can look at Hololive as a whole as questioning the boundary between reality and that which has been conjured up from the depths of the mind — a very Lovecraftian topic, for sure. The Hololive girls like Amelia are simultaneously “real” and “not real”; they’re fictional characters, but ones with whom we can engage directly rather than being reliant on an author’s skill at describing, or an actor’s talent in portraying. Yet at the same time, they are real; there’s a real person behind that Live2D avatar who is playing the game, running the stream, reading the chat and talking to the audience — but we never know if we’re really talking to that person. Where does Amelia end and the person behind her begin? I imagine this is a question that every virtual YouTuber who has enjoyed even a little success has probably confronted at one point or another.

Fanart by Kitanxjk. Support the artist on Pixiv.

Real or not, Amelia and her peers have captured the imagination of a significant number of people in the few days since their debut at the time of writing. And while they’re not the first English-speaking virtual YouTubers — either in Hololive or in the broader community — they’re certainly playing a huge role in bringing this unusual medium of entertainment to a whole new audience that may not have encountered it or engaged with it before.

Will Amelia ever solve the mysteries presented by her peers? I doubt it somehow — particularly since, as she revealed in the group’s first collaborative stream, she eschewed taking any Intelligence points in favour of maxing out her Luck — but I’m sure it’s going to be an interesting and enjoyable journey watching her try.

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4 thoughts on “Waifu Wednesday: Amelia Watson”

  1. Honestly, I think you’re focusing a bit too much on the character concept. Those things largely do nothing more than give VTubers a superficial identity. That’s not as minor as it sounds, as it is something that makes them recognizable, even if it’s not what really defines them (like how Korone is often affectionately called a “doggo”, but isn’t beloved because she’s dog-like, but because she’s crazy in a cute/endearing way). Under that, VTubers are not that much different than other streamers. They might play a character, they might be just themselves, but it rarely has anything to do with their “character setting”.

    While some try to stay true to their concept, it rarely sticks for one reason: VTubers change. The reason for that is simple: Initially, they haven’t found their footing yet. Over time, many shift to something they’d rather want to be as VTubers, whether it’s a different character (like Pekora) or just end up as themselves (like Matsuri). That’s not a bad thing, obviously because it’s something the streamers themselves want to do, but also because those new personas often end up being more popular and memorable. Either way, they often deviate from their character concepts (although don’t necessarily contradict them).

    A particularly memorable (and glorious) case is Nijisanji’s Otogibara Era, who was intended to be a sweet and shy Cinderella-type character, only to evolve into a vulgar, foul-mouthed gorilla.

    Another notable Nijisanji is Suzuhara Lulu, intended to be an ordinary art student and… let’s just say that among VTuber fans “ordinary art student” has become synonymous with “Lovecraftian horror”.

    As such, I pretty much expect Hololive EN to turn into something that has mostly only a passing similarity to their original concepts. Maybe. I’d say it depends on how crazy they currently are. One common trait with VTubers is that they more-or-less go insane sooner or later. The ones who are the safest from that (and any change in their character) are the ones who are crazy from the beginning.

    Bottom line: VTubers are lunatics.

    Liked by 1 person

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