- The Short Version
- The Medium Version
- The Long Version
If you’re watching a VTuber stream in Japanese or another language you don’t understand, here are some things to keep in mind.
The Short Version
- Have common sense
- Have common courtesy
The Medium Version
- Have common sense
- The streamer doesn’t understand you, so messages like “Do this!” or “Say this!” are pointless.
- Live streams do not have subtitles.
- The English and Japanese communities have different memes.
- Have common courtesy
- Even if the streamer could understand you, you shouldn’t pester them to do things.
- Stay on topic. Stream chat is not for discussing your life or other VTubers.
- Don’t spam.
The Long Version
The short version is all you need, as long as you actually follow it. But there are some points that could benefit from more detail or clarification:
Aside: “Real Identities”
I’ll be blunt: yes, VTubers are real people playing characters. I understand that this tends to make people curious, but if the VTuber does not publicly reveal personal details, please do not pry. That would be invading their privacy.
And no, “5ch dug up this information” does not count as “publicly revealing”. If it doesn’t come directly from the VTuber, it is doxing. Just know that the vast majority of VTubers do not make their other online identities public, much less personal information.
So how do I communicate with the streamer?
Be polite, don’t spam or pester, and a kind person in chat might translate for you. Just remember that there might be no translators in chat, and even if there are, don’t be offended if they would rather focus on watching the stream and can’t translate for you.
It’s also possible that the streamer can understand simple phrases in English. If you just want to tell them “Cute!” or “Cool!” or “Good job!” then you can probably get your message across.
Regardless, the streamer is not a trained monkey. This applies to all streamers, not just VTubers. Please don’t pester them to say things or do things for your amusement.
If the streamer can’t understand me, why do I have to stay on topic?
It creates a good environment for other English-speakers who are watching.
Even if someone is just lurking in chat or watching the VOD, it’s a much nicer experience to see other English-speaking fans enjoying and talking about what’s happening in the stream, and not their lunch or that game of Apex they played yesterday.
On the other hand, if other viewers see people using chat as their personal Twitter or spamming memes, they’ll decide it’s okay for them to do the same. This spoils the fun for both the streamer and everyone else in chat.
An on-topic chat also helps people follow what’s going on in the stream. If the viewers who understand some Japanese comment about what’s happening, then the viewers who don’t understand anything can see their reactions and enjoy the stream more.
It’s also very rude to randomly start talking about a different streamer. Not only is it disrespectful to the streamer you are watching, if people wanted to talk about that other streamer, they would be in their chat, not here.
It’s worth mentioning that some streamers check their own VODs after the stream is over so they can read chat in detail. They might even use Google translate to read comments in other languages. I’ve even seen streamers pause to Google translate a comment live. So chat with that in mind.
A side note on memes
Memes are fun, we all love them, just remember that what’s a meme among the English community is not necessarily a meme among the Japanese community. A certain moment may have made the streamer famous to English audiences, but to the Japanese audience and the streamer themselves, it might not have been anything memorable. Of course, the reverse is also true.
So even if it’s relevant to the VTuber, don’t be surprised if they don’t understand your memes at all, even if you translate them. Your messages may even be treated as spam. So meme responsibly.
Any other English speakers?
I understand that it can be lonely in chat if it feels like nobody else speaks your language. So a simple, “Are there any other English speakers here?” before stream or right at the start is perfectly fine.
This does not mean spam it, and it does not mean messages like “WHERE THE ENGLISH GANG AT!?!?” “AM I THE ONLY ONE HERE WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH!?!?!?” “LOL I DON’T READ MOON” “SPEAK ENGLISH YOU GUYS”
If the stream is in progress and you see other people chatting in English, that means yes, there are other English speakers, so no need to ask. And if there aren’t, you can either lurk quietly or be the first brave person to speak up. Maybe some other people will speak up too.
At the end of the day…
It may seem like I’ve written a wall of text about “don’t do this” and “don’t do that”, but again, all of it should be common sense and common courtesy. You don’t have to memorize a rulebook to participate in a stream. Just be a decent person.
Even if the streamer can’t understand most of what you say, they can tell who’s actually engaged and who’s just spamming. So if you want to show your support, to show that you’re having fun—go ahead! Get excited in chat, laugh along, cheer along, and enjoy the stream.