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Miku Hatsune is a 'character' from the Vocaloid Character Vocal Series synthesiser developed by Yamaha Corporation
Before Miku was released, Vocaloid was not much more than an obscure program. Nico Nico Douga played a fundamental role in the recognition and popularity of the software. Soon after its release, 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 spring/Welsh onion, singing levan Polkka, presented multifarious possibilities of applying the software in multimedia content creation. As recognition and popularity grew, Nico Nico Douga became a place for collaborate 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.
The initial sales of Hatsune Miku were so high that Crypton could not keep up with the demand. In the first 12 days of sale, 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'. Amazon.co.jp stated on September 12, 2007 that they had sales of Hatsune Miku totaling 57,500,001 yen, making her the number one selling software of that time.
On October 18, 2007, an Internet BBS website reported that she 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" and related keywords but other search keywords as well. Both companies expressed a willingness to fix the problem as soon as possible. Images of Hatsune Miku were relisted on Yahoo on October 19.
A 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 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. Miku sometimes wears glasses in the manga, and Rin and Len call her "onee-chan" (big sister). A yonkoma webcomic made by artist Minami called Chibi Miku-san can be found on his webpage.
At CEATEC Japan 2009, Boffin, in joint with Yamaha had the robot model HRP-4C react to the Vocaloid software for demostrational purposes. She was dressed up to look like Hatsune Miku for the demo.Miku was one of 3 voicebanks HRP-4C was set up to react to, the other two were Gumi and Crypton's CV-4Cβ
Miku's first appearance in an anime is in episode 5 and 13 of Zoku Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei in which she (and other Vocaloids) auditioned to dub Otonashi Meru's voice.
For online multiplayer games, the Japanese version of PangYa started a campaign with Hatsune Miku on May 22, 2008 in which she is included as one of the characters. Her first appearance in a video game is in 13-sai no Hellowork DS (Job Placement for the Age of 13) for the Nintendo DS where she is included as one of the characters. Miku Hatsune also stars in a video game of her own, Miku Hatsune - Project Diva on the Playstation Portable (PSP) in Japan. In Tales of Graces (Wii), she is a downloadable costume for one of the characters. In Phantasy Star Portable 2 (PSP), her hairstyle is available for female characters, and her costume as well as multiple weapons themed after leeks are unlockable by inputting certain passwords.
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 depiciting Hatsune Miku.
Miku was also the subject of one of the most controversial uses of the legal agreements of any Vocaloid producing studio was from the Democratic Party of Japan, whose running candidate, Kenzo Fujisue attempted to secure the use of Miku's image in the Japanese House of Councillors election of July 11, 2010. The hope was that the party could use her image to appeal to younger voters. Although Crypton Future Media rejected the party's use of her image or name for political purposes, Fujisue released the song "We Are the One" using her voice on Youtube, by only replacing her image with the party's character in the music video.
Miku and other Vocaloids began to appear in concerts in Japan 2009, since then she has made appearances outside of Japan. Hatsune Miku performed her first "live" concert like a virtual idol on a projection screen during Animelo Summer Live at the Saitama Super Arena on August 22, 2009. At the "MikuFes '09 (Summer)" event on August 31, 2009, her image was screened by rear projection on a mostly-transparent screen.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. The tour was run as part of promotions for Sega'sHatsune Miku: Project Diva video game in March 2010. The success and possibility of these tours is owed to the popularity of Hatsune Miku and so far Crypton is the only studio to have established a world tour of their Vocaloids.
Later, the CEO of Crypton Future Media appeared in San Francisco at the start of the San Francisco tour where the first Hatsune Miku concert was hosted in North America on September 18, 2010, featuring songs provided by the Miku software voice.A second screening of the concert was on October 11, 2010 in the San Francisco Viz Cinema. A screening of the concert was also shown in New York City in the city's New York Anime Festival. Hiroyuki Ito, and planner/producer, Wataru Sasaki, who were responsible for Miku's creation, attended an event on October 8, 2010 at the festival. Videos of her performance are due to be released worldwide.
On April 30, 2010, Miku Append, a data library which consisted of six new Miku voicebanks, was released. Both the Miku product and the Append product exist and are sold separately, and the voicebanks of Miku Append are different from the voicebank the original Miku has. All the new voicebanks were voiced by Saki Fujita: Soft, Sweet, Dark, Vivid, Solid, Light. Crypton announced that this is an append disk (an addition which offers extension to computer softwares and is similar to expansion packs in English) and users need the original Miku to utilize Miku Append. It costs collectively slightly under the original Miku price. While they had been announced on Miku's second birthday, they were released over eight months later. The different appends are meant to capture the "moods".
The original appends planned had been "soft", "very small", "dark-prototype", "vivid", and "solid". However, "very small" was replaced with "sweet", "dark-prototype" became "dark", and "light" was added. Prior to the release, demos had constantly been put on Crypton's website. These included productions by various Vocaloid producers from Nico Nico Douga. Ryo's "Black Rock Shooter" 2M mix had also been done with one of the beta voicebanks. In December 2009, demo software versions of "soft" and "dark" were released. They did not allow VSQ saving, but did allow .wav rendering, which led to a stream of videos released on Nico Nico Douga.
Despite the success of Miku herself, her Append did not sell as many units. Following the Kagamine Append release, both the Kagamine and their Append software pushed Miku's Append software into 6th place on Crypton's sales page.
On October 8, 2010, at the New York Comic-Con, Ito Hiroyuki (Crypton's CEO) announced that if Miku's facebook page hits 39,390 "likes", an English bank will be developed. The project was termed "Project MIKUCASH".
Miku's page has reached more than 39,390 "likes" on her Facebook page (run by Crypton staff). It has been confirmed that there will be more released on this soon. Samples have already been made and demos are said to be in the process of preparations. A Tweet from Crypton on Twitter confirms that they are not sure if English Miku will be Vocaloid2 or Vocaloid3.
The alpha stage of development went under review the weekend of the 19th of March 2011. By then it was still far from the beta stage, Crypton reported they would their fans keep up to date with its development and were aiming for a good qualified English voicebank. Crypton also report that they would like to do Miku English Appends in the future, however they have no specific plans right now.
Miku has been used for a variety of songs in very different areas. Her voice is higher pitched than her predessor Meiko and her voice allows for manipulation in a variety of ways while maintaining a cute sounding voice. Miku has a great amount of help within the Vocaloid fandom to make improve her usage as well as a vast array of different songs made by other Vocaloid 2 users as examples. Some songs have undergone a large amount of voice editing.
The Append voicebanks exist side by side with the original voicebank, giving Miku a total of 7 possible voicebanks to choose from for users with both plug-ins.
The Appends are as follows;
MIKU Append SWEET : French Pop, Ballard, Electronica
MIKU Append DARK : Ballad, Jazz, Falk, Ambient
MIKU Append SOFT : Soft Rock, Ballad, Falk, Ambient
MIKU Append LIGHT : Pop, Rock, Dance, Techno Pop
MIKU Append VIVID : Pop, Techno Pop, Trad
MIKU Append SOLID : Pop, Rock, Dance, Electro
There is some debate as to if Appends are really needed. While they make it easier to find the right to tone for a song, it is possible to recreate similar results to the Append tones without actually buying the software with just the basic voicebank. However, pronounications between the voicebanks do vary per sample because each Append has its own set of vocal samples. For less experienced or skilled users, the Appends are a useful tool to add tone to a song, for experienced users they act as a method of extending the vocals of one voice even further then it already can go.
As she is a Japanese Vocaloid and is not predicated on singing in English as well as any other Japanese only Vocaloids, she does not have voicebanks for English pronunciations. This is why she often has a very strong Japanese accent when she is singing in English and even an experienced "Japanese to English" user may take many hours to use her for an English song.
The English voicebank will add a 8th voicebank to her list of possible voicebanks. According to the offical reports from Crypton Future Media, her voice will be "cute". The extent of the English capabilities are largely unknown. The English voicebank for Miku is aiming to be of a good standard, since she is being aimed at a wider consumer market, though it is unknown if she will have better pronounications then Luka who had previously not been aimed at a more global release. There are currently no plans for a English version of the Appends, however, Crypton reported they are considering it for the future.
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