Leading up to New York Comic Con, which runs from Thursday, October 10 through Sunday, October 13 at the Javits Center, the Japan Foundation hosted a talk with Hiroyuki Itoh, CEO of Crypton Future Media, Inc., on Tuesday, October 8 at The Nippon Club.
Crypton Future Media is the #1 music production software company in Japan and is responsible for creating the phenomenon known as Hatsune Miku. A vocaloid with long blue pigtails, Hatsune Miku is a music revolution fed by a community of more than two million creative fans.
Established in 1995 in Sapporo, Crypton developed “virtual instrument” software that allows users to simulate the sound of instruments through their personal computers.
“But there was always one instrument that was lacking, and that was the vocal, the singing voice,” says Itoh.
Crypton began releasing voice simulation software through a partnership with Yamaha Corporation, creating the first vocaloid with a character design. Born in 2007, Hatsune Miku is the third vocaloid the companies developed, and, as Itoh says, “She’s getting a lot of attention as a ‘new music culture.’”
What began as the virtual voice in a package design has exploded into a collaborative effort by millions of people worldwide. The sheer popularity of Hatsune Miku is staggering.
“Hatsune Miku really shocked the Internet user base,” says Itoh. “As a virtual singer who can sing exactly the way that human beings can sing, her work began being shared all over the Internet.”
The vocaloid is the inspiration for videos, illustrations, figurines, 3D models, anime, and cosplay. Crypton created piapro.net for users to upload original content and mikubook.com as a resource for fans all over the world to connect and exchange ideas. Hatsune Miku has her own YouTube channel, and Itoh believes there are more than 100,000 songs to her name. Miku has saturated the market, with CDs on Crypton’s Karent label available on iTunes, Amazon.com, Pandora, and Spotify. Her image was part of an art exhibition at Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, and Family Mart, a large convenience store chain in Japan, carries products that bear Miku’s familiar likeness.
The virtual singer has performed in several sold-out concerts where her projected image sings onstage with live musicians. Last November she performed in an orchestra, and her opera, The End, opens in Paris next month. The story of her community is featured in this Google Chrome commercial:
As her popularity continues to grow worldwide, Miku is learning a new language: English. Crypton released the English version of Hatsune Miku this summer, and established MikuEnglish.com, a site for subscribers in the States.
“The development of the English version of Hatsune Miku took a very long time,” says Itoh. “We believe that we were able to create a very high quality product, and I can say with confidence that I really recommend it.”
“Hatsune Miku” literally means “first sound from the future,” and by the looks of the community she has created, the future is now.
If you have tickets to New York Comic Con, you’ll be able to learn more about this famous vocaloid. NYCC will present a special film concert of Hatsune Miku on Friday, October 11 from 11:15 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. Hiroyuki Itoh will participate in the panel discussion Hatsune Miku Conference 2013 – Presented by the Japan Foundation on Saturday, October 12 from 4:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. For more details, please consult NYCC’s website.