Hatsune Miku (初音ミク?) is a singing synthesizer application with a humanoid persona, developed by Crypton Future Media. It uses Yamaha Corporation's Vocaloid 2 and Vocaloid 3 synthesizing technology. The name of the character comes from a fusion of the Japanese for first (初hatsu?), sound (音 ne?) and future (Miku (ミク?) sounds like a nanori reading of future, 未来, normally read as "mirai"), referring to her position as the first of Crypton's "Character Vocal Series". She was the second Vocaloid to be sold using the Vocaloid 2 engine and the first Japanese Vocaloid to use the Japanese version of the Vocaloid 2 engine. Her voice is sampled from Japanese voice actress, Saki Fujita. Hatsune Miku has performed at her concerts onstage as an animated projection. Hatsune Miku is portrayed to be a 16-year-old girl with long teal pigtails.
After acquiring the Vocaloid 2 speech synthesis engine from Yamaha, Crypton Future Media began to develop their third Vocaloid. Hatsune Miku's voice was created by taking vocal samples from voice actress Saki Fujita at a controlled pitch and tone. These different samples all contained a single Japanese phonic which, when strung together, would create full words and phrases. The pitch of the samples was to be altered by the synthesizer engine itself, and was constructed into a keyboard style instrument within the Vocaloid 2 program.
Crypton released the first of their "Character Vocal Series", Hatsune Miku, on August 31, 2007. Crypton had the idea to release Miku as "an android diva in the near-future world where songs are lost."
Though developed by Yamaha, the marketing of each Vocaloid is left to the respective studios. Yamaha themselves do maintain a degree of promotional efforts in the actual Vocaloid software, as seen when the humanoid robot model HRP-4C was set up to react to three Vocaloids—Hatsune Miku, Megpoid and Crypton's noncommercial Vocaloid software "CV-4Cβ"—as part of promotions for both Yamaha and HRP-4C at CEATEC in 2009. Japanese magazines such as DTM magazine are responsible for the promotion and introduction for many of the Japanese Vocaloids to Japanese Vocaloid fans. It has featured Vocaloids such as Miku, Kagamine Rin and Len, and Megurine Luka, printing some of the sketches by artist Kei and reporting the latest news on the Vocaloids.
Crypton has been involved with the marketing of their Character Vocal Series, particularly Hatsune Miku, which has been actively involved in the GT300 class of the Super GT since 2008 with the support of Good Smile Racing (a branch of Good Smile Company, mainly in charge of car-related products, especially itasha (cars featuring illustrations of anime-styled characters) stickers. Although Good Smile Company was not the first to bring the anime and manga culture to Super GT, it departs from others by featuring itasha directly rather than colorings onto vehicles.The Hatsune Miku Studie Glad BMW Z4competed in the 2008 Super GT season.
Since the 2008 season, three different teams received their sponsorship under Good Smile Racing, and turned their cars to Vocaloid-related artwork:
- Studie, which participated in the 2008 and 2009 seasons using a BMW Z4 E86. Their car was painted in official Hatsune Miku art, and fan-derivative versions of Hatsune Miku in some races in the 2009 season.
- Team MOLA, using a Nissan 350Z, and they received sponsors on the final race in Fuji in the 2008 season. Images of Kagamine Rin and Len was added on their original colorings. The Fuji round, in fact, is still the only FIA race to feature two unique itasha cars competing in a single race.
- Team COX, participating in the 2010 season, which uses a Porsche 996 GT3 RSR (and will use a Porsche 997 GT3-R). Their car uses Racing Miku (an official Hatsune Miku derivative, wearing an orange race queen suit) as their image.
As well as involvements with the GT series, Crypton also established the website Piapro. Crypton has also started to star Miku in commercials for theToyota Corolla. During the 2011 and 2012 Sapporo Snow Festival, a tram has been covered with Hatsune Miku art inside and out, with announcements recorded by Saki Fujita. In 2012, Hatsune Miku starred in a web commercial for Google Chrome and won the Bronze Lion award in the Direct Lions category of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
The initial sales of Hatsune Miku were so high that Crypton could not keep up with the demand. In the first 12 days of sales, nearly 3,000 sales reservations were made. This was around one sale in 250 in the music software industry, quoted as "an impossible number" by Wataru Sasaki—the person in charge of the planning and production company "surprise".[clarification needed] On September 12, 2007, Amazon.co.jp reported sales of Hatsune Miku totaling 57,500,000 yen, making her the number one selling software of that time.
On April 30, 2010, an updated version of Miku, called Hatsune Miku Append, was released containing a package of six different tones of Miku's voice: Soft (gentle, delicate voice), Sweet (young,chibi voice), Dark (mature, heartbroken voice), Vivid (bright, cheerful voice), Solid (loud, clear voice), and Light (innocent, heavenly voice). Miku Append was created to expand Miku's voice library, and as such requires the original program to be installed on the user's computer first. This was the first time a Vocaloid had such a release, and more Append versions were reported from Crypton Future Media at later dates.
To aid in the production of 3D animations, the program MikuMikuDance was developed as an independent program. The freeware software allowed a boom in fan-made and derivative characters to be developed, as well as acted as a boost for the promoting of the Vocaloid songs themselves. Another Vocaloid tool that was developed was VocaListener, a software package that allows for realistic Vocaloid songs to be produced.
An English version of Hatsune Miku was announced in 2011, and was originally to be released by the end of 2012. However, the decision to move to Vocaloid 3 and issues with English pronunciation have delayed the release to spring 2013, with further delays being possible if they are deemed necessary.
CharacteristicsThe editor and interface of Hatsune Miku, based on Vocaloid.
During Miku's development, Crypton decided to take a different approach from that used by the other Vocaloid sound bank publishers. It was decided that to make the product successful not only would a highly appealing voice need to be developed, but that the voice needed an image. In this way, the target focus for Crypton's Vocaloids changed from high-end music studios to the general public, specifically teenagers.
The task of coming up with Miku's image went to the manga artist Kei Garō. When Kei designed Miku, his only direction was that she was an android and what her color scheme (based on Yamaha's synthesizer's signature turqoise color) was. The design on Miku's skirt and boots are based on synthesizer software colors and the bars represent the actual bars within the program's user interface. Miku was originally intended to have a different hairstyle, but Kei stuck to pigtails after trying them out. Crypton then officially created and posted Miku's personal data sheet. However, this only contained her 'physical' and technical traits; Crypton did not provide much info in the way of Miku's personality which has allowed song/music video creators and fans to associate the traits that they think suit her best.
|Height||158 cm / 5.2 ft|
|Weight||42 kg / 93 lbs|
|Suggested Tempo Range||70–150bpm|
|Suggested Vocal Range||A3–E5|
Nico Nico Douga, a Japanese website similar to YouTube, played a fundamental role in the recognition and popularity of the software. Soon after the release of Miku, users of Nico Nico Douga started posting videos with songs created using her sound bank. According to Crypton, a popular video with "Hachune Miku", a super-deformed Miku, holding a Welsh onion and singing "Ievan Polkka" (which led to Miku also being commonly associated with leeks/spring onions), presented the varied potential of applying the software in multimedia content creation. As the recognition and popularity of Miku grew, Nico Nico Douga became a place for collaborative content creation. Popular original songs written by a user would inspire illustrations, animations in 2D and 3D, and remixes by other users. Some creators would show their unfinished work and ask for ideas.
In September 2009, three figurines based on the derivative character "Hachune Miku" were launched in a rocket from the United States state of Nevada's Black Rock Desert, though it did not reach outer space. In late November 2009, a petition was launched in order to get a custom-made Hatsune Miku aluminum plate (8 cm x 12 cm, 3.1" x 4.7") made that would be used as a balancing weight for the Japanese Venus spacecraft explorer Akatsuki. Started by Hatsune Miku fan Sumio Morioka (also known as "chodenzi-P"), this project has received the backing of Dr. Seiichi Sakamoto of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. On December 22, 2009, the petition exceeded the needed 10,000 signatures necessary to have the plates made. An original deadline of December 20, 2009 had been set to send in the petition, but due to a couple of delays in the Akatsuki project, a new deadline of January 6, 2010 was set; by this deadline, over 14,000 signatures had been received. On May 21, 2010 at 06:58:22 (JST), Akatsuki was launched, having three plates depicting Hatsune Miku and Hachune Miku in several monochrome images, composed of the miniature letters of the messages from the petition form etched in the plates. The UK 59th issue of the music and fashion magazine Clash featured Hatsune Miku as their cover star (using a real-life photo model), with a full feature on her.
The Vocaloid software has also had a great influence on the character Black Rock Shooter, who looks like Hatsune Miku but is not linked to her by design. The character was made famous by the song "Black Rock Shooter", and a number of figurines have been made. An original video animation made by Ordet was streamed for free as part of a promotional campaign running from June 25 to August 31, 2010. A televised anime series aired in February 2012.
In October 2011, Crypton showed on the official Hatsune Miku Facebook page a letter from the Japanese Minister of Economy for "contributing to the furtherance of the informatization by minister of economy."
Appearances in other media
Miku's popularity has seen various references to her in anime. Miku is the protagonist of a manga series named Maker Hikōshiki Hatsune Mix, written by Kei Garō. The manga explores the many possibilities of story-telling and has featured numerous adventures, ranging from giant-sized battles with Hatsune Miku to home exploits. There is therefore no single storyline and the entire setting within the manga is unofficial. During an episode of Zoku Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei, Miku is seen auditioning for the voice of Meru Otonashi (Kagamine Rin and Len are referenced in the same episode). Miku's voice is used in one of the ending themes for the anime series Akikan! (episode 12). In the Lucky Star OVA, Kagami Hiiragi gets magically transformed into Miku cosplay. A character in the anime Kämpfer appears dressed as Miku in episode seven. She also appeared in the large plasma screen in Chrome Shelled Regios as an endorser. She also appears in episode 11 of Baka and Test as a member of class B. Miku also appears in Maria Holic episode 12, when the class is told they have a swim meet.
A series of rhythm games starting from Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA were produced by Sega under license using Hatsune Miku and other Crypton Vocaloids, as well as "fan-made" Vocaloids like Akita Neru. TinierMe also made attire that looks like Miku's for their services, allowing users to make their avatar resemble her. Hatsune Miku and Future Stars: Project Mirai was developed for the Nintendo 3DS. Miku's appearance in this game is based on the Nendoroid series of figures. Hatsune Miku is also briefly referenced in the game Recettear, where a young man stargazing sees "The Green-Onion Girl" constellation.
Miku's clothes appear as a costume for a playable character in the Japanese version of PangYa and was the back-up vocal for the game's season four trailer, as a downloadable costume for Sophie in Tales of Graces and is seen during a stage in the game 13-sai no Hellowork DS. Miku's clothes also appear in Phantasy Star Portable 2 as a costume for the player's female character, as well as her hairstyle and leek-themed weapons. Miku appears in the PlayStation 3 version of The Idolm@ster 2 as downloadable content. In the video game Skullgirls, one of Filia's alternate colors is based on Miku. Miku has appeared as downloadable content using the game engine M.U.G.E.N.
Featured musicToyota Corolla itasha featuring Hatsune Miku at Anime Expo 2011.
In August 2010, over 22,000 original songs had been written for Hatsune Miku. Later reports confirmed that she had 100,000 songs in 2011 to her name.
One of the Vocaloid compilations, Exit Tunes Presents Vocalogenesis feat. Hatsune Miku, debuted at number-one on the Japanese weekly Oriconalbum charts dated May 31, 2010, becoming the first Vocaloid album ever to top the charts. Another album, Supercell, by the group Supercellalso features a number of songs using Vocaloids. Other albums, such as 19's Sound Factory's First Sound Story and Livetune's Re:package, andRe:Mikus also feature Miku's voice. Other uses of Miku include the albums Sakura no Ame (桜ノ雨?) by Absorb and Miku no Kanzume (みくのかんづめ?) by OSTER-project. She had sung the original Nyan Cat called "Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!" by daniwell-P. Kagamine Len and Rin's songs werecovered by Asami Shimoda in the album Prism credited to "Kagamine Rin/Len feat. Asami Shimoda".
As a virtual idol, Hatsune Miku performed her first "live" concert during Animelo Summer Live at the Saitama Super Arena on August 22, 2009.Miku also performed her first overseas live concert on November 21, 2009, during Anime Festival Asia (AFA) in Singapore. On March 9, 2010, Miku's first solo live performance titled "Miku no Hi Kanshasai 39's Giving Day" was opened at the Zepp Tokyo in Odaiba, Tokyo. Miku performed in the United States on July 2, 2011 at the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live during the 2011 Anime Expo in Los Angeles. The concert followed the same format as the previous "39's Giving Day" concert.
A young male prototype used for the "project if..." series was used in Sound Horizon's musical work "Ido e Itaru Mori e Itaru Ido", labeled as the "prologue maxi". The prototype sang alongside Miku for their music and is known only by the name "Junger März_Prototype β".