Earlier last month, Pikamee, a popular vtuber canceled her Hogwarts Legacy stream and went offline for three weeks, neither tweeting nor creating video content from February 8 through March 1. Yesterday, she announced she will retire from her vtubing career entirely. Angry fans have latched onto the Hogwarts Legacy controversy as the reason why their favorite vtuber will no longer produce content. But it’s more complicated than that.
Pikamee originally planned to stream Hogwarts Legacy when it launched on February 10. Upon reportedly receiving criticism for plans to broadcast such a controversial game, she canceled her stream and stopped producing content for the rest of February (The original tweet is deleted, but you can see a copy of it here).
Yesterday, her agency, VOMS Project, announced she is “graduating” from the vtubing group. The official announcement made no mention of whether or not the vtuber had planned to retire before her streaming plans blew up, but it emphasized that she wanted to leave in a “positive” way. Kotaku reached out to VOMS Project to ask if the canceled Hogwarts Legacy stream contributed to Pikamee’s retirement plans but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
Many people, within and beyond the larger gaming community have voiced concerns about promoting Hogwarts Legacy as it will, in turn, monetarily support Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has repeatedly expressed anti-trans sentiments. A Reddit thread suggests that the negative comments on Pikamee’s announcement of her Legacy stream included threats to unsub or expressed personal disappointment. Kotaku also viewed videos from other vtubers showing the negative responses to Pikamee, which included commenters reportedly trying to explain their reasons for the suggested boycott or questioning her commitment as an ally to transgender people. Other streamers have faced similar criticism.
Because Pikamee’s Hogwarts Legacy tweets have been deleted, it’s hard to get a holistic view of how strongly people actually opposed her stream, though evidence suggests the criticism was clear in its disappointment but did not seem to escalate to harassment. However, Pikamee’s most militant fans seemed to take issue with the callout all the same. Between the quote retweets on the official retirement announcement and the tweets found by searching “Vtuber” on Twitter, people are upset at the possibility that opposition to Pikamee because of her decision to stream Hogwarts Legacy led to her retirement (which again, is currently unconfirmed).
The transphobic backlash
This mere possibility has led trans streamers and allies to fear the speculation will lead to increased transphobia in the vtuber community as it paints the problem group as trans people and trans allies. One tweet angry over Pikamee’s retirement showed an edited image depicting Hatsune Miku, a music software mascot, burning a trans flag. Several said that trans people deserved their oppression. Others condemned the entire queer community. Some tweets contained ableist slurs and threats against transgender people. From all the anti-LGBTQ tweets in relation to Pikamee currently trending on Twitter, (and one slur-filled thread on the hate forum Kiwifarms), the fear appears well-founded.
Whatever Pikamee meant to her fans while she was actively streaming, it seems she’s now become a martyr for those bemoaning the side effects of “cancel culture” and others looking for an excuse to attack a marginalized group. Fans have expressed that it’s not what she would have wanted from her community—if only her fans would take her easygoing attitude to heart in light of her retirement.