Who is Kizuna AI? Meet Valentino's New VTuber Fashion Model

Kizuna Ai and her Valentino crossover explained.

March 12, 2021

Fashion brand Valentino revealed it partnered up with VTuber Kizuna Ai for its 2021 Spring Summer collection. Kizuna Ai was also featured as the cover girl of commons&Sense Issue 60. Many pages of the magazine feature Kizuna Ai modelling for the Valentino 2021SS Collection, showcasing several outfits and bags.  You love Valentino and its fashion, but have no idea who Kizuna Ai is and what VTuber are? We’re here to explain everything.

Simply put, a Virtual YouTuber is a character created by an individual or a company, who usually has an anime-stylized avatar, and uploads videos like a normal YouTuber would.


Kizuna Ai, who debuted in 2016 in Japan, started this Virtual YouTuber, or VTuber trend. The first Kizuna Ai videos featured the character simply introducing herself, with her actress controlling the character through motion recognition. Soon after, Kizuna Ai became a social phenomenon as several short clips of her playing games went viral. Now, Kizuna Ai has nearly 3 million subscribers, virtual concerts, still play games, has her own Virtual Reality game, and has different actresses voicing her for multiple languages.

Following Kizuna Ai’s success, many other VTubers started appearing, either independently, or backed by companies. Now, nearly every Japanese company or game studio nowadays have their own VTuber for promotion. Or are turning their beloved and established characters into VTubers. Many game live streams or announcement showcases invite popular VTubers as guests as well. VTubers are even invited to variety shows on Japanese TV.

Rather than developing a 3D model like Kizuna Ai, which requires huge effort and money, most VTubers instead use Live2D. A technology that automatically animates 2D illustrations. Many VTubers use 2D portraits animated with Live2D. It’s a cheap and easy access to the world of VTubing. Regularly making new videos for a VTuber is no easy task however, even for a big company and game developers.

While Kizuna Ai popularized VTubers, it’s however important to note this isn’t particularly a new concept.

Niconico Douga, which is basically the Japanese version of YouTube, has been featuring videos similar to VTubers for decades now. Vocaloid characters such as Hatsune Miku, which are basically virtual idols who can sing anything you want them to in robotic tunes, have been around for years. As well as the Miku Miku Dance program, or MMD, which is widely used to animate and create videos of not only Vocaloid but any type of characters.

Another important thing to note is that the identity behind a VTuber is rarely ever made public. As more and more big capitalistic companies get into the VTuber business, this will inevitably lead to certain issues such as lack of credit. The original Japanese version of Kizuna Ai was only officially revealed in April 2020, four years after her debut, to be voiced by Japanese voice actress Nozomi Kasuga. Kizuna Ai also got her own company back then, Kizuna Ai Co., Ltd., following the report of huge debt suffered by original managing company Activ8.

@kizunaai0630ヴァレンティノ×キズナアイ🎀❤️##valentino ##valentinogaravani ##romanstud ##valentinocollezionemilano♬ AIAIAI – Kizuna AI (キズナアイ)

Kizuna Ai modelling for Valentino is another huge step in the process of VTubers entering the mainstream space

  • HOLOLIVE – Vtuber Amelia Watson and her Valentine cards

VTubers are mainly popular in Japan, China, and Asia. However, some companies, such as Hololive, are also launching English audience focused VTubers.

Hololive by Cover Cop is, besides Kizuna Ai, one of the most important VTuber agencies. It’s one of the most popular agglomeration of VTuber there is with over a hundred talents. Hololive is everywhere, most notably thanks to how quick it was to introduce English VTubers for a broader audience. Hololive English was revealed in September 2020, including several names you’ll definitely end up seeing if you stick around anime fandoms on social media: Watson Amelia, Ninomae Ina’nis, Takanashi Kiara, Mori Calliope, and Gawr Gura. That shark girl with the blue hoodie you’ve probably seen at least once? That’s Gawr Gura.

There’s an Hololive Indonesia, Korea, and India as well. VTubers are particularly popular in Indonesia, China, and several Asian countries besides Japan.

That’s it for our introduction for VTubers and Kizuna Ai. Needless to say, we tried to keep this as basic as possible and didn’t go into details. DualShockers will be covering more and more VTuber content in the long run, so stick with us if you’re like to discover some interesting VTubers and learn more about this phenomenon.

@kizunaai0630commons&sense最新号ではヴァレンティノの2021年春夏コレクションを着た私をたくさん載せてもらいました📖✨##valentino ##valentinogaravani ##romanstud ##valentinocollezionemilano ##commonsandsense♬ over the reality – Kizuna AI
Iyane Agossah

Living near Paris, Iyane (He/Him) is the head of Japanese content at DualShockers. He speaks Japanese, has been loving anime and Japanese games for over 25 years and plays Genshin Impact for its story and exploration. You can reach him on Twitter at @A_iyane07.

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