ChilledCow’s study girl is the face of lofi music on YouTube. Residing in the lofi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to livestream, the girl has built a fanbase, become a meme and kept millions of people company while they relax, study or chat to chill lofi beats. The iconic YouTube figure has her origins in Whisper of the Heart‘s Shizuku Tsukishima, a similar-looking character who modelled the girl listeners now know and love. In fact, Shizuku was the study girl early on, up until the original GIF caused copyright concerns with a certain Studio Ghibli.
Whisper of the Heart was released in 1995. The film follows the story of Shizuku, a Japanese schoolgirl with a love for literature. Shizuku lives with her parents and sister in a cosy Tokyo apartment, spending her free time scribbling away in a cluttered bedroom study. While she did pose as the study girl, Shizuku actually doesn’t study a whole lot herself, instead writing poetry and working on a novel titled “Whisper of the Heart.
ChilledCow was created by Dimitri in February of 2017. He decided to make Shizuku the face of his livestream, selecting a GIF of the character writing with headphones on. The lofi radio started off doing what it does to this day: providing a platform for “chill beats” (wavy, jazy, hip-hop lo-fi music) and their artists. When it grew in popularity, copyright concerns emerged, leading to the livestream temporarily shutting down just months after beginning.
In 2018, the Chillpop Records lofi livestream also came under attack for their copyright lofi girl. The Chillpop Records girl was Wolf Children’s Yuki. Studio Chizu (the anime studio behind Wolf Children) launched a copyright claim and managed to get the stream off air. These situations are common within YouTube’s notorious copyright laws. As a result, the YouTube lofi community is plagued with copyright issues wherever anime loops feature. It’s a shame, as the anime aesthetic fits lofi music perfectly, and not every targeted lofituber is willing to give their study girl a makeover.
In any case, ChilledCow’s new study girl is a definite upgrade. Juan Pablo Machado is the artist behind her current look, creating the loop that now plays in the popular livestream. The new study girl has a different hairstyle, different clothes and a different room. In the daytime, the sight out of her window seems to indicate she’s moved out of Tokyo, and in the nightime, Macado treats listeners to some rain visuals that add to the lofi experience. The study girl still pays tribute to her Ghibli beginnings, assuming Shizuku’s posture and working in a similar room. There’s also the cat on the windowsill (cats are important Whisper of the Heart).
With her new look, the study girl has become the true mascot for lofi music across the internet. It isn’t uncommon to find the character in fanart, merchandise, or memes. There are also alternative study girls (or boys) in the various other lofi channels across YouTube. Still, the study girl’s life has been far from an uninterrupted live stream — listeners will recall the mass horror (and memeing) that emerged in early 2020, when the ChilledCow channel was “accidentally” terminated by YouTube. Luckily, it returned promptly, but the event made people realize how much everyone depends on their beloved study companion.
If all is good in the world, nothing so traumatic will ever happen again, and this Ghibli-inspired girl will be allowed to scribble away uninterrupted for years to come.