Mano Aloe: Desk Diary – September 02, 2020

  • Opinion
We have come to this point that even Anime News Network wrote a story about Mano Aloe.

This is my second Desk Diary, where I put my heart out and think loud enough to cover some topics which will then be considered taboo, letting these things go and then moving on.

I thought I can get out drama by moving my attention away from local idols and seiyuu drama to Virtual YouTubers. I was wrong.

I have to open up and say that I’m not feeling well these days. My body clock’s a mess, I sleep and wake up late, I get much more irritated, and all I can presume that this can lead to me having cabin fever. All that’s saving me is that I’m still employed and I get to keep my hobby on the side.

-Ber months

We had a lot to deal with – politics, sudden departures, and the upcoming -Ber months, said to be the start of the country’s longest celebration of Christmas, set every 25th of December to accustom to other beliefs at that time. I don’t celebrate it.

Let me open up first about my content creation process – as I launch the Deremoe Archive series on YouTube this Friday, I look back at hours of content Deremoe has done in the past under my watch.

It’s a waste to delete every trace of it – it took me quite a few overnights to sort each video I produce and publish there, and it’s not just me who’s running the brand back then – so I decided to bring back good memories from it. I do have a proper explanation on why I’m doing this on last week’s vlog, I hope you’ve watched it already:

All of these Flashback Friday videos as well as this month’s podcasts are of top priority, which is why I’ve produced these first with my utmost energy.

I do these things in advance because I have fears that I won’t be able to do this during the whole month of September. So far, I’m around 90% complete, and I am yet to find a proper time within the month to process the remaining 10%.

Having a set schedule helped me to make a habit during this quarantine. It’s kind of messed up but you can figure it out along the way.

Mano Aloe

A downside of preparing too early is that when something suddenly hits, it will be hard to add it in the finished product. It’s like a newspaper kind of thing where addenda and errata are done either online or on the next issue.

We were expecting that Hololive’s 5th Generation will be completed by this month, but just as we move our online voices to support Mano Aloe, she has decided to retire 2 weeks after debut. This makes her the second fastest VTuber within the Hololive production to retire.

We all blame each other in the process – Cover Corporation who owns the production unit, the overseas fans who are zealous to meet Mano Aloe again, the so-called “Antis” who have harassed Mano Aloe to the point of her receiving multiple anonymous phone calls, or the toxic idol culture in general, Mano’s colleagues or even Mano Aloe herself.

I had already prepared a memeable clip from my recent recording for an upcoming podcast episode, where I said this:

Since Shishiro Botan has already debuted with flying colors, it’s time for Polka to speak English and Aloe to sh*tpost.

I didn’t quite expect that to hit me so hard.

Sure, Mano Aloe had committed a taboo prior to her actual debut. I’m still trying to ingest it, but I understood that it’s more of a commentary on idol culture, where agencies are so strict, idols have to be seiso (pure), so on and so forth.

Sure, Mano Aloe had approval of her manager to do a test stream on Twitcasting, implying that she will delete it soon after. It was not deleted, and information about a retired NIJISANJI virtual liver got divulged along with it.

There’re already discussions about this on Reddit, and if you’re quite skeptical, you can cross-check with some of the posts in it.

…that’s why, please be nice to me before I get banished.

Excerpt from the fan-translated “leaked” video posted october 2019

Mano Aloe debuts as part of Hololive’s 5th Generation. Days after, things went haywire to the point that she had to make an apology video. (You won’t see it officially; the YouTube channel has been removed after all; you may find it translated on another fan channel though).

It’s said that there are misconceptions in the apology video. Our initial understanding is that Aloe had to cut ties with his boyfriend, so the antis went out to harass her boyfriend.

It’s also said that the apology video was not that sincere. Not to mention Mano Aloe is said to have spoken from a “third person view” as she mentions details about the retired NIJISANJI liver’s graduation.

News broke out last Monday that the official statement says it’s a “breach of contract,” a valid point from a company perspective. Mano Aloe DID breach the contract she signed up for. She got a two-week suspension, and it’s assumed that it’s an effort on Hololive’s side to suppress the tension by implementing this ban.

If this is Mano Aloe’s swan song in the VTuber industry as a whole, I will have to fully accept it regardless. We don’t know what’s in Aloe’s mind back then when she ranted on that “leaked” video, and we don’t know if she’s OK at this point. We just won’t know, and it will not be for us to be nosy about.

Just like you, I am shocked with the news, but what jolts me more is the caption accompanying the formal announcement:

“5th Gen will hold a meeting at 10:30 AM discussing this news.

We WILL be translating this stream. Do not accept fan translations as official.”

excerpt from Hololive’s post on Facebook

That enough gives me an idea that while Hololive appreciates the translations from fans around the world, in this case, it’s their words that’s made official.

The formal letter of Cover Corporation CEO Motoaki Tanigo (YAGOO) starts with the inevitable truth, followed by another apology:

“We apologize for misunderstandings caused last time due to the lack of a translated official nnouncement and the delay in adding subtitles to the apology stream. As such, we would like to explain the circumstances in more detail this time.”

Excerpt of Cover Corporation CEO Motoaki Tanigo’s statement announcing the graduation of Mano Aloe

As a company going global, Hololive is slowly understanding the repercussions of getting into mainstream attention, crossing international borders and cultures.

Hololive is no longer a startup, having received JPY 700 million (around USD 6.6 million) from investors last May. It is by far the biggest, most popular agency for Virtual YouTubers. Heck, it even manages the most superchatted YouTube personality in the world based on Playboard statistics as of this writing.

Unfortunately, Hololive is also home to careless management. It hit me just now, but I realized that I’ve read the story on Yozora Mel wrong. Contrary to my statement posted on Tiktok and Instagram, Mel got her own laywer to sort out the mess related to her long absence – as the notable Lyger translates it,

“Since she wasn’t getting the support she needed, a friend reached out and helped put her in contact with a lawyer. With help from the lawyer, they got the person named in the email to admit to being the one sending the harassing emails and doing the Twitter harassment.”

Excerpt from Yozora Mel’s statement translated by Lyger on the Hololvie subreddit forum

I understand now that in Mel’s case, after she got in touch with a lawyer, Hololive ended up helping her relocate and cover lawyer’s fees.

If this is YAGOO’s Idol Dream, I don’t want any of it. It reminds me of our local AKB48 branch so much, where the expectations don’t meet the reality. Also, the toxic idol fandom turned me off, and I don’t see much more positivity about it. Might as well graduate along with my oshi, I said.

The role of the agency is to introduce a personality that has a clean stature, and one of the talents’ roles is to stay clean, else they face backlash.

The story of Mano Aloe gives us a lesson on checking and double-checking talents if they are fit for an agency’s vision, mission and values. The last time they had an incident where a VTuber debut supposed to happen, they failed to check important details which then leads to a VTuber not debuting at all.

As much as Hololive wants to ignore this one, Streisand effect is in progress. It’s not my task to share it, unfortunately. It’s just a matter of searching to figure out how you want your truth about these matters will become.

No, YAGOO is not best girl, and as long as Hololive continues to bring drama and issues every month, I swear I will have to refuse recognizing his achievements. Love the Virtual YouTuber, not the system. Please promise us no promises.

Now here’s the part where I make comparisons, as much as I shouldn’t. What about its competitor NIJISANJI? They’re having less scandals, drama, et cetera; and by my perception, there’s only a few who translate NIJISANJI clips – or maybe if there are, more of the attention goes to those who translate clips from Hololive’s VTubers.

There’s no way I will believe that Ichikara (who owns NIJISANJI) announced the establishment of its “aggressive behavior and slanderous activity countermeasure team” as a tongue-in-cheek reminder to Cover Corporation to sort their mess out. Ichikara even manages an ACTUAL Idol Group alongside NIJISANJI! On top of it all, they are both supported by bigwigs. Ichikara is supported by Itochu Corporation through capital and business partnerships.

Maybe gatekeeping is a good option in this case. Mainstream attention can get quite unbearable.

Let’s take the example of the M.A.S.S., or the Mano Aloe Support Squad. The M.A.S.S. is said to have “more than 1,000 members,” has a Discord chat server, and serves its name well.

They are no different from other groups who are doing Twitter hashtag campaigns to support their idols. The problem here is that Mano Aloe made a mistake, and it just went huge as people continue support her despite the fact that she had admitted her wrongdoings.

I have entered the M.A.S.S.’ Discord server to read on the details, and I found out that even her Hololive colleagues are admonishing her – the keywords are “reflect,” and “wait.”

The plan is to anticipate Mano Aloe’s return with the warmest of welcomes, only to fail miserably as the antis escalate their harassment towards Aloe, allegedly upon knowing this campaign exists.

While I find no concrete evidence that the MASS campaign got noticed by antis in Japan, there is no doubt that it has attracted a lot of attention from the worldwide VTuber audience.

I’m sorry I couldn’t save you, Aloe. 🙁

the leader of MASS, as posted on a reddit comment

While the efforts of MASS should be appreciated (they made huge efforts for their beloved Mano Aloe), Mano Aloe is still accountable for her mistakes, just as we are accountable for our own.

(Sept 11, 2020) Let me be clear though: The M.A.S.S. on Discord is good, and I can interact with them without any judgment. Now that they’ve changed their name to the Manotomo Alliance Support Squad, I understand that they are continuing to support vtubers especially within the Hololvie spectrum. “Manotomo Alliance” is a good name – it reminds them of their roots.

I’ve had enough of this. It’s already 4 in the morning as I rush finish this piece, and I hope I won’t be talking about VTubers in such bad lights from this point moving forward.

To recap, for VTubers, please be nice and don’t leak anything, talk sh*t or do anything that will risk not just you but the agency or organization you’re into.

For agencies, please take these horror stories as a lesson in management – you don’t need to be laissez faire at all times while pretending you’re strict.

For my fellow fans, please be reminded that VTubers are human no matter how they say otherwise (?!). We are watching a reality show disguised as a TV series, with less to no scripts and delayed subs.

Antis will always be there, just as how many people will say “telebasura” or stuff like that. They won’t go anywhere, and they will be watching alongside us.

Let’s do our part. I don’t want to point fingers only to have four fingers pointed back at us.

Lastly, I trust that whoever is inside of Mano Aloe will recover but not without trauma. We only wish the best for her.

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