Kizuna AI has been a major force in Japanese fandom over the last few years. The top VTuber went from virtual gamer and commentator to global celebrity and ambassador. She has her own Nendoroids, has appeared in live concerts and video game collaborations, and even has guest spots in anime.
But as many fans know, the actress who originated the character is no longer in the role. Multiple actresses play AI now; and while the expansion is in line with her former parent company’s initial plans, the move left a bad taste in some fans’ mouths. Fortunately, the founding AI is doing great for herself as a voice actress, and is even getting recognition for her role now!
While Kizuna AI’s real-world persona was previously heavily locked down, sharp-eared viewers cross-referenced her voice with visual novel performances from voice actress Nozomi Kasuga. Kasuga, lesser known at the time, could neither confirm or deny the guess. However, when she was let go from the role of AI, fans had even more to work with. A series of tweets from Kasuga, quickly deleted, seemed to align with the recent change. This, combined with the bittersweet lyrics of AI’s song “Sky High” (which made reference to “the original” sleeping), was enough proof for fans that Kasuga had been unceremoniously let go from her role.
Fortunately, the original actress behind the digital star got some good news this year — as did her fans. First, yes: it was confirmed that Nozomi Kasuga is indeed the original Kizuna AI. But better still, when the VTuber got her own dedicated company, Kasuga was invited on board as a consultant. After all, who would know the character better than the person who played her for so long?
Fans of Kasuga can look forward to more from her in future, it seems. After playing Mimi Rin in Granbelm, she left her voice acting agency and started a temporary YouTube channel. These two moves made fans worry she was retiring completely from voice acting. However, Kasuga announced today that she has signed on with voice acting agency Swallow. The agency also represents SSSS.GRIDMAN‘s Ryousuke Takahashi and Lapis Re:LiGHTs‘s Yukari Anzai.
It looks like we can look forward to great things from Kasuga in future, as she sets out to make a career for herself under her own name!