Netflix has joined the Vtuber trend, unveiling a virtual streamer this week who will host a weekly show on the company’s YouTube channel to promote its original anime series. The character is named N-ko Mei Kurono, and Netflix describes her as the company’s “anime ambassador.” She also happens to be a “sheep-human lifeform.”
Vtubers, or “virtual YouTubers,” are animated hosts who often vlog on YouTube or stream on Twitch. In general, these characters are operated by a single human, who will use motion capture software (and sometimes a motion-capture outfit) to transform themselves into a cartoony character on-screen. Some Vtubers have become hugely popular over the past year, including Projekt Melody and CodeMiko.
Netflix is using the trend as a way to promote its growing interest in anime. The company said recently that it plans to launch 40 anime series in 2021, following a year in which “the amount of Anime watched” on its service doubled in the US. Netflix is about to debut a new anime from Flying Lotus; a new Sailor Moon movie is coming to the service in June; and a Terminator anime is now in the works.
N-ko, the Vtuber, is played by a Netflix employee who works on their anime lineup. Though her primary purpose is promoting Netflix series, she’s also trying to fit in with the rest of the Vtuber community and become a figure viewers might want to watch for herself. “I love singing, dancing, and getting a massage,” N-ko says, “but I don’t like writing kanji or anything that contains elements of horror.” She plans to upload videos highlighting new shows, collaborate with other Vtubers, and maybe sing songs and do video game commentary, too.