IN THE NEWS – Written by Scott
Visitors to Fan Expo in Toronto had one of the first Canadian opportunities to get the full story on the Hatsune Miku phenomenon as told by the company that markets her, thanks to a discussion panel offered by Crypton Future Media, Inc. I was there and unfortunately had some technical problems with my camera, so I don’t have a lot of decent pictures, but I was able to record audio of the event and get a few screen shots from the presentation.
The panel was hosted by Crypton’s Global Marketing Manager Cosima Oka-Doerge (below, seated behind the table), who came halfway around the world from the company’s Sapporo, Japan headquarters to introduce Hatsune Miku to fans at the convention in Canada’s largest city, which is perched on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. This was the first time that Crypton had come to a panel in eastern Canada and it could not have been a better time, given the amount of activity that has been going on this summer in Hatsune Miku’s world.
During her talk, Cosima covered a “soup to nuts” version of the Hatsune Miku phenomenon. In front of a crowd of about 250 people, she began by talking about the history of Crypton Future Media as a developer of music software since 1995 and singing synthesizer software since 2004. When she asked how many people in the audience knew Hatsune Miku, almost everyone raised their hand. She talked about the common ways that people describe Miku – “anime character”, “pig-tailed hologram girl”, “fake singer”, “video game” etc. There was an explosion of laughter when she asked the audience what they thought Miku was and a guy sitting behind me immediately answered “my waifu”.
The panel covered Miku as a singing synthesizer software, the thousands of Miku songs on the net, the multitudinous collaborations between creators and the difference between Miku and an anime character. Cosima talked about Miku and her personality as created by her fans and her impact in the media world– her start on Nico Nico and the over 250,000 videos uploaded to YouTube alone, as well as her one millionth “like” on Facebook.
Cosima pointed out “Seeing this impact, we also believe that Miku is a symbol of a new era of music and the music industry itself. It’s the first time that the audience actually makes songs that are performed.” She talked about the “chain of creation” – starting with the software that produces songs, leading to spin-off media and activities, including videos, cosplayers, illustrations, 3D MMD models, 3DCG video clips and figurines created by companies such as Good Smile. She stated that, “Miku can therefore be understood as a place where all these creative processes come together”.
Cosima described the rationale for the creation of Piapro, Crypton’s media-sharing website for collaboration between creators as well as the Piapro Character License (PCL) for Japan and Creative Commons License for the rest of the world. She then played a short clip from the third MIKUMENTARY by Tara Knight.
Cosima talked about Hatsune Miku’s concerts as a coming together of groups and fans who have collaborated in making songs. They are cheering for Miku who is performing songs that they have produced (essentially having a good time celebrating themselves). Cosima’s announcement of the pending release of the English Miku elicited a loud cheer. There was a brief mention of how Saki Fujita, who does not speak English, had to be coached to produce the right English recordings.
The Powerpoint presentation summarized the contents of the English Hatsune Miku package – the English voicebank, the Piapro Studio vocal editor and the over 200 virtual instruments. The audience also was very appreciative of how comprehensive the package was and how it was compatible with Mac. She showed a video (below) where the editor was used to make Miku sing in English “I’m Hatsune Miku from Crypton Future Media!”, which the audience chuckled at.
There was also clips played from two new demos of the English Hatsune Miku. Below: “Fate” by CircusP
Below: “Second Star” by EmpathP
Under the various usages of Miku, Cosima talked about commercial purposes, starting with the Google Chrome commercial, which was played for the audience. She also described the variety of commercial uses that Miku has seen since her arrival – music, videos, books, character merchandise (figurines) and food products. She mentioned KARENT, Crypton’s record label, the pending release of SEGA’s Project DIVA F in North America and Europe (which the audience appreciated). She played a video showing a few clips from the game.
Cosima also showed pictures of some “quirky” Miku merchandise, including a picture of a package of rice crackers with Miku designs from Piapro on one side of each cracker and a QR code on the other side. Customers with a smartphone could use the QR code to access the download for a free Hatsune Miku song. The presentation also featured a few examples from the huge range of Miku-inspired products marketed by the Japanese convenience store chain Family Mart.
Cosima also talked about the Good Smile GT300 racing team and the Good Smile Racing Miku figurine that is released each year, saying “Luckily they’re a really good team and have won several cups!”. She also talked about Hatsune Miku collaborations with fashion names Earth, Music & Ecology and the We Love Fine T shirt maker which is running a contest until September 3 for possible creators of a Miku T shirt design.
The presentation also mentioned the Vocaloid opera “THE END”, as well as the collaboration with Louis Vuitton to design all the fashions worn by Miku in the show. Cosima showed a video with a few clips from the opera. The highly artistic nature of the show seemed to leave the audience a little confused and the reaction was subdued.
Cosima also talked about the “Appearance” version concerts using models designed by Mamama that is currently being played daily in Tokyo’s Akhibara district and showed a small clip from the performance. She also talked about the upcoming Magical Mirai exhibitions, workshops and concert at the Yokohama arena.
Three new English language art books (below) featuring Hatsune Miku, Rin & Len and Luka were introduced and later given away as door prizes. Marketed by Udon Entertainment, they will be available soon from Amazon.
Cosima acknowledged that most of the audience wanted to have a concert here in their own town and received big applause. She said, “We really are working very hard for it. As you may know, we’re just a really small company from Hokkaido. Nobody really believes that but it is true. It is very hard for us to know where fans are…around the globe. We don’t really know how many there are and so it’s really difficult to plan it because it’s of course also costly”. As a campaign to find fans around the world, Crypton has launched Find Me through MIKUBOOK so fans can register their location. She also talked of the 90-minute screening from Mikupa Kansai 2013 that would be shown the following day at Fan Expo. Needless to say, the crowd was very enthusiastic about that.
After a brief question and answer session, there was a draw for a number of Miku-themed door prizes and then the room emptied in preparation for the next session featuring Yuu Asakawa, the voice provider for Megurine Luka.
You can listen to the full audio from the panel at this link: http://yourlisten.com/MikuStar.com/crypton-fan-expo-panel-2013-aug-24