A 2-D/3-D dream come true for Nightmare fans.

Initially, it wasn’t entirely clear if the idea of VTubers/virtual YouTubers would entirely catch on, but they’re now a robust part of the Japanese pop culture scene. Part of their success can be attributed to the fact that their marketing often follows the format used for fully human idols.

For example, ASMR VTuber Nightmare, or Mare-chan, as fans often call her, has an official birthday, July 14. So just like with flesh-and-blood idols, the occasion was celebrated with messages of congratulations from her social media followers, a line of commemorative merchandise, and a meet-and-greet event with the time-tested idol promotion of giving fans the chance to shake hands with Nightmare.

▼ The illustration used for Nightmare’s 2022 birthday memorabilia merch.

But wait a second…a handshake event? How are fans supposed to shake hands with her when the whole deal with VTubers is that they don’t have a physical form? The answer to that came at the Maremare Super Conference, where attendees saw this:

Hanging down from above was a monitor, showing Nightmare’s face. Then, down below and peeking out from behind a red curtain, were Nightmare’s hands, waiting to shake those of fans or give them five, whichever they preferred.

Like most Vtubers, usually Nightmare’s whole upper body is visible when she’s on-camera. For the handshake event, though, the perspective is zoomed in so that she’s only seen from the neck up on the monitor, since her shoulders and arms are supposed to be behind the curtain. It’s a startling and clever workaround that lets fans have their cake and eat it too by combining elements of the 2-D and 3-D world, and reactions to Nightmare’s tweet have included:

“This is pretty surreal.”
“Wait, those hands aren’t high-resolution 3-D graphics renders?!?”
“Mare-chan, you’re a genius.”
“Never would have come up with this on my own.”
“[It’s not 2-D or 3-D], I’d say it’s about 2.8-D.”
“This would totally freak me out if I saw it in a dark room in the middle of the night.”
“This is like the kind of idol you’d see in a cyberpunk science fiction story.”
“If the screen was a little bigger, it’d make for a better proportion with her hands.”
“Major video game last boss energy.”

▼ Nightmare’s hands are usually as 2-D as she is.

Of course, the most important metric of idol events is the fan reaction, and several of Nightmare’s supporters left comments saying they’d taken part in the event and enjoyed themselves, as well as those who weren’t able to attend but wanted to express their admiration of her “cute” and “beautiful” hands. So by that measure, this strategy for crossing the line between two and three dimensions was a success, and something we might see more Vtubers start doing.

Related: Nightmare YouTube channel
Source: Twitter/@Mare_ASMR via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
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