|Initial release||January 2004|
|Stable release||Vocaloid 2|
|Operating system||Windows XP / Vista|
|Available in||Japanese, English|
|Type||Musical Synthesizer Application|
Yamaha announced its development in 2003 and on January 15, 2004, Leon and Lola, the first Vocaloid products were launched. They were not released as Yamaha products, but as Vocaloid Singer Libraries, developed by third party developers, the products were powered by the Vocaloid software, under license from Yamaha. Leon, Lola, and Miriam (Miriam using the voice of Miriam Stockley) have been released from Zero-G Limited, UK, while Meiko (released on October 5, 2004 and using vocal samples from the Japanese singer Meiko Haigo) and Kaito (released on February 17, 2006 and sampled from Naoto Fuuga) have been released from Crypton Future Media, Japan.
In January 2007, Yamaha announced a new version of the software engine, Vocaloid 2, with various major improvements in usability and synthesis quality. Zero-G and others announced products powered by the new software engine in early 2007. PowerFX released the first Vocaloid 2 package in June 2007, an English product named Sweet Ann. This was shortly followed in August 2007, when Crypton released Hatsune Miku, the first in a series of Japanese Vocaloid 2 character voices. The second package Kagamine Rin/Len was released on December 27, 2007 and the updated edition "act2" was released in July 2008. The first Vocaloid 2 product from Zero-G, Vocaloid Prima, an English classical voice, was finally released on January 14, 2008 in the UK and February 22, 2008 in Japan. It was originally scheduled for release in spring 2007. Prima was introduced at the NAMM Show 2008;. The third Vocaloid 2 product from Crypton, Megurine Luka, went on sale on January 30, 2009. She is the first bilingual Vocaloid product, capable of singing in both Japanese and English.
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The Character Vocal Series is a computer music program that synthesizes singing in Japanese. Developed by Crypton Future Media, it utilizes Yamaha's Vocaloid 2 technology with specially recorded vocals of voice actors. To create a song, the user must input the melody and lyrics. A piano roll type interface is used to input the melody and the lyrics can be entered on each note. The software can change the stress of the pronunciations, add effects such as vibrato, or change the dynamics and tone of the voice.
The series is intended for professional musicians as well as light computer music users. The programmed vocals are designed to sound like an idol singer from the future. According to Crypton, because professional singers refused to provide singing data, in fear that the software might create their singing voice's clones, Crypton changed their focus from imitating certain singers to creating characteristic vocals. This change of focus led to sampling vocals of voice actors.
Each Japanese Vocaloid is given an anime-type character with specifications on age, height, weight, and musical strengths (genre, pitch range and ideal tempos). The characters of the first three installments of the series are created by illustrator Kei.
Any rights or obligations arising from the vocals created by the software belong to the software user. Just like any music synthesizer, the software is treated as a musical instrument and the vocals as sound. Under the term of license, the Character Vocal Series software can be used to create vocals for commercial or non-commercial use as long as the vocals do not offend public policy. In other words, the user is bound under the term of license with Crypton not to synthesize derogatory or disturbing lyrics. On the other hand, copyrights to the mascot image and name belong to Crypton. Under the term of license, a user cannot commercially distribute a vocal as a song sung by the character, nor use the mascot image on commercial products, without Crypton's consent.
Hatsune Miku (初音ミク) is the first installment in the Vocaloid 2 Character Vocal Series released on August 31, 2007. The name of the title and the character of the software was chosen by combining Hatsu (初 First ), Ne (音 Sound ), and Miku (未来 Future ). The data for the voice was created by actually sampling the voice of Saki Fujita, a Japanese voice actress. Unlike general purpose speech synthesizers, the software is tuned to create J-pop songs commonly heard in anime, but it is possible to create songs from other genres.
Nico Nico Douga played a fundamental role in the recognition and popularity of the software. Soon after the release of the software, users of Nico Nico Douga started posting videos with songs created by the software. According to Crypton, a popular video with a comically-altered Miku holding a leek, singing Ievan Polkka, presented multifarious possibilities of applying the software in multimedia content creation. As the recognition and popularity of the software grew, Nico Nico Douga became a place for collaborative content creation. Popular original songs written by a user would generate illustrations, animation in 2D and 3D, and remixes by other users. Other creators would show their unfinished work and ask for ideas.
On October 18, 2007, an Internet BBS website reported Hatsune Miku was suspected to be victim of censorship by Google and Yahoo!, since images of Miku did not show up on the image searches. Google and Yahoo denied any censorship on their part, blaming the missing images on a bug that does not only affect "Hatsune Miku" but other search keywords as well. Both companies expressed a willingness to fix the problem as soon as possible. Images of Miku were relisted on Yahoo on October 19, 2007.
A Hatsune Miku manga called Maker Hikōshiki Hatsune Mix began serialization in the Japanese manga magazine Comic Rush on November 26, 2007, published by Jive. The manga is drawn by Kei, the original character designer for Hatsune Miku. A second manga called Hachune Miku no Nichijō Roipara! drawn by Ontama began serialization in the manga magazine Comp Ace on December 26, 2007, published by Kadokawa Shoten.
The character's first appearance in an anime is in (Zoku) Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei, where she (and various other people and characters) try out to be the voice of Meru Otonashi. For online multi-player games, the Japanese version of PangYa started a campaign with Hatsune Miku on May 22, 2008 in which a player could purchase her outfit for one of the characters.. Her first appearance in a video game is in 13-sai no Hello Work DS (13歳のハローワークDS) for the Nintendo DS where she is included as one of the characters. Hatsune Miku was given a PlayStation Portable game called Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA that was released on July 2, 2009 by Sega. Hatsune Miku made a cameo appearance in the Lucky Star OVA in the form of Kagami's cosplay in her dream. She made a vocal appearance in the finale ending theme of the anime Akikan!. Hatsune Miku received the 2008 Seiun Award in the free category. She is also a playable character in the game Tales of Graces as downloadable content for 400 Wii points.
On August 27, 2008, Victor Entertainment released the album Re:package which contains a collection of songs performed by Hatsune Miku and composed by a pair of dōjin artists named Livetune. The album sold over 20,000 copies in its first week and successfully broke into Oricon's charts by placing fifth for the week. Following up with the success of Re:package, Victor Entertainment released Livetune's second Hatsune Miku album, Re:MIKUS, on March 25, 2009, which contains many remixed versions of original songs from various original music artists, such as Supercell and kz of Livetune. It also contains four more original songs sung by Hatsune Miku, which again were made by original dōjin artists.
As a virtual idol, Hatsune Miku performed a "live" concert during Animelo Summer Live on August 23, 2009 and at Anime Festival Asia (AFA), Singapore in 2009. In addition, singer Gackt performed alongside Miku.
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 will be used as a balancing weight for the Japanese Venus spacecraft explorer Akatsuki which will be launched in summer 2010. Started by Hatsune Miku fan Sumio Morioka that goes by 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.
Released on December 27, 2007, Kagamine Rin/Len (鏡音リン・レン) is the second installment of the Vocaloid 2 Character Vocal Series. Their surname was chosen by combining Kagami (鏡 Mirror ), Ne (音 Sound ), with the first syllables of their given names a pun on "Left" and "Right". According to Vocaloid's official blog, the package includes two voice banks: one for Rin and another for Len, both provided by the voice actor Asami Shimoda. Despite the double voice banks, the package still sells at the same price as Hatsune Miku. Their only cameo appearance in an anime is in (Zoku) Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei, where the two, Miku, Kaito, and Meiko (and various other people and characters) try out to be the voice of Meru Otonashi.
On June 12, 2008, Crypton announced the updated edition, named "act2", will be released in early July 2008. Users who had bought the old version will get an expansion disc free of charge. On June 18, 2008, beta demonstration songs using the new version were released on the company's official blog. The expansion disc is an entirely different software and does not affect the original Kagamine Rin/Len installation in any way, giving the user options to either use the old or new voice sets exclusively or combine their usage.
The third installment in the character vocal series, Megurine Luka (巡音ルカ), was released on January 30, 2009. Her surname combines Meguri (巡 Circulate ) and Ne (音 Sound ). Luka's voice is that of a twenty-year-old female and she can sing in both Japanese and English. Her voice bank was sampled from Yū Asakawa. The manga artist Kei, who illustrated Miku, Rin, and Len, also designed her mascot. However, unlike previous mascots in the series, her costume is not based on a school uniform but more based on a modern style cheongsam.
In the 2008 season, two cars competing in the GT300 class adopted images and color schemes involving characters in the Vocaloid series. The first car, named "Hatsune Miku Studie Glad BMW Z4" (#808), was used by Studie (a tuning shop for BMW). It used Hatsune Miku's image and color scheme, and has its debut in round six in the Suzuka Circuit. It marked the first so-called "Itasha" to participate in international class races under FIA. Though it never qualified in the qualify session mainly due to fuel problems that season (including the miss of its Suzuka debut due to a misunderstanding of the rules), it was allowed to race in the final round at Mt. Fuji, and completed the race in eighteenth place. Crypton fully supported the process of participation. The car attracted many motor sport and non-motor sport fans not only because of its color scheme, but also marked as a testing point of BMW's return in the Super GT series, since Z4 has already dominated in the Super Taikyu series in Japan. After the final race at Mt. Fuji, it is known that Studie will continue to adopt Hatsune Miku's image in the following season.
In the final round at Mt. Fuji, one of the leading teams, Mola, adopted images of Kagamine Rin and Len in their "Mola Leopalace Z" (#46); they finished sixth in the race. Unlike the previous car, it did not change its name in the process.
On top of that, Studie was one of the few teams that adopted color designs from the general public, rather than a professional designer in international motorsport history. When Piapro (official fansite which is in charge of collecting designs) was collecting designs of the Hatsune Miku Studie Glad BMW Z4, they did not announce the designs would be used in Super GT series, instead most of the designers expected it would be racing in the lower-level Super Taikyu Series, or as display cars in autoshows or Comiket (the plan was disgusied as a model-car design contest), so many of them chose #39, the number which usually belongs to Hatsune Miku. However, in the Super GT series, the #39 belonged to Toyota Team SARD (Now known as Lexus team SARD) in the GT500 class; this fact was reflected in Goodsmile Racing stickers for Z4 car models released after the 2008 season, which they provided both for #39 and #808. Like the previous season, Piapro picked a design from the public and it was revealed in February 2009.
Internet Co. Ltd. wanted to utilize the voice of a musician for the creation of Vocaloid but felt it would be difficult to acquire cooperation. They consulted Dwango, who suggested Gackt, a musician and an actor, as he had previously provided his voice for Dwango's cell phone services. He lent his voice and named the Vocaloid Gackpoid (がくっぽいど Gakuppoido ). The product was originally intended to be released in June 2008, but although Gackt existed as a model for the Vocaloid, its illustrated avatar was yet to be determined. Finally a popular manga author Kentarō Miura, famous for his dark fantasy epic Berserk, was asked for his cooperation. Due to Miura's affection for Nico Nico Douga, he agreed to offer his services as a character designer for free. As a fan of Berserk, Gackt was more than happy with this arrangement, and requested Miura's sketches be faxed to him as well as the developers, even though he was on location for the filming of Guy Moshe's Bunraku. Gackpoid was released on July 31, 2008. Gackpoid includes a new program, OPUS Express, for mixing vocal parts with accompaniment or phoneme data. Two of Gackt's songs and other three songs are also included as samples. Miura's design for Gackpoid was named Kamui Gakupo/Gackpo (神威がくぽ) after the stage name of Gackt and has a samurai aesthetic—the character is clad in Jinbaori, a kind of kimono which was used as a battle surcoat, and carries a katana that somehow acts as a musical instrument.
Internet Co. published their second Vocaloid software titled Megpoid (メグッポイド) on June 26, 2009 using the voice of Megumi Nakajima. She has bright green hair and wears red goggles on her head. This is a parody of both her theme color and a character that Nakajima voiced, Ranka Lee from Macross Frontier; as her design is similar to Ranka Lee. One of her demo songs is "Be Myself", an original song by Nakajima. Megpoid sample files are included in the disc for the software.Her voice range is F2-A4 and her optimum tempo is 60-175BPM. Its character was named GUMI (ぐみ), which was designed by the manga artist Yuki Masami.
|Developer(s)||Crypton Future Media|
|Initial release||August 31, 2007|
|Stable release||Hatsune Miku Append / April 30, 2010|
|Operating system||Windows XP / Vista / 7|
|Type||Musical Synthesizer Application|
Hatsune Miku (初音ミク) is a singing synthesizer application and its female character, developed by Crypton Future Media. It uses Yamaha Corporation's Vocaloid 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". Her voice is sampled from Japanese voice actress Saki Fujita.
After acquiring the Vocaloid 2 engine from Yamaha, Crypton Future Media began to develop their third Vocaloid. During this period the company decided to take a different approach to that used by the English company Zero-G who had also been releasing Vocaloids using the original Vocaloid engine. It was decided that to make the product successful not only would a highly appealing voice need to be developed but that 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. When Kei designed Miku, his only direction was that Miku was an android and her colors (based on YAMAHA synthesizer's signature blue-green color). The digital design on Miku's skirt and boots are based off synthesizer program colors and the bars represent the actual bars within the program. Miku was originally intended to have a different hairstyle, but Kei stuck to pigtails after trying them out
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."
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-like voice), Vivid (bright, cheerful voice), Solid (loud, clear voice), and Light (innocent, heavenly voice). This was the first time a Vocaloid has such a release and more Append are reported from Crypton Future Media at later dates.
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 Lily, 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 Vocal Series, particularly Hatsune Miku, 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.
Since the 2008 season, three different teams received their sponsorship under Good Smile Racing, and turned their cars to Vocaloid-related artwork:
As well as involvements with the GT series, Crypton also established the website Piapro.
Nico Nico Douga, a Japanese internet site very similar to YouTube; played a fundamental role in the recognition and popularity of the software. Soon after the release of the software, users of Nico Nico Douga started posting videos with songs created by the software. According to Crypton, a popular video with "Hachune Miku", a super deformed Miku, holding a leek and singing "Ievan Polkka", presented the varied potential of applying the software in multimedia content creation. As the recognition and popularity of the software grew, Nico Nico Douga became a place for collaborative content creation. Popular original songs written by a user would generate illustrations, animation in 2D and 3D, and remixes by other users. Other 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 that goes by 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.
The Vocaloid software has also had a great influence on the character Black Rock Shooter, which 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 is set to be streamed for free as part of a promotional campaign running from June 25 to August 31, 2010.
To aid in the production of 3D animations, the program MikuMikuDance was developed as a 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.
One of the Vocaloid compilations, Exit Tunes Presents Vocalogenesis feat. Hatsune Miku, debuted at number-one on the Japanese weekly Oricon album charts dated May 31, 2010, becoming the first Vocaloid album ever to top the charts. Another album, Supercell, by the group Supercell also features a number of songs using Vocaloids. Other albums, such as 19's Sound Factory's First Sound Story and Livetune's Re:package, and Re:Mikus also feature Miku's voice. Other uses of Miku include the albums Sakura no Ame (桜ノ雨) by Absorb andMiku no Kanzume (みくのかんづめ) by OSTER-project. Kagamine Len and Rin's songs were covered 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.
A young female 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".
Miku's popularity has seen various references to her in anime. During an episode of Zoku Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei, Miku is seen auditioning for the voice of Meru Otanashi (Rin and Len Kagamine are referenced in the same episode). Miku's voice is used in one of the ending themes for the anime series Akikan!. In the Lucky Star OVA, Kagami Hiragii gets magically transformed into Miku cosplay. Outside of Japan, Hachune Miku's Llevan Polka video is referenced briefly by Isabella in the Phineas and Ferb episode, "Summer Belongs to You!".
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. TinierMe Gacha also made attire that looks like Miku for their services, allowing users to make their avatar resemble the Crypton Vocaloids.
Miku also appears as a playable character in the Japanese version of PangYa, 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 also appears in Phantasy Star Portable 2 as a costume for the player's female character, as well as her hairstyle and leek-themed weapons.
|"Nebula"||Tripshots||June 3, 2009|
|"VOiCE・PV"||Lovely P / Nyohoho||July 16, 2010|
|"Kasōkyoku"||No.D / Yūjin Ueno|
|"Suteneko Russian Blue"||SHUN P|