Is Miku’s Future Magical?

I spent a weekend with Miku, and I’m tired as heck. The girl does know how to party though.

To celebrate her 6th birthday, the people behind what we know as the diva Miku put together a world-wide bash, focused on a big event on 8/30 at the Yokohama Arena called Magical Mirai 2013. It’s part concert, and part exhibition. Well, the pictures here probably tell more than I could.

Furufuru Future

What happened between my last comment on Magical Mirai and this post is that I attended her birthday bash at one of the delay broadcast showing via satellite (albeit delayed by a good 12 hours or so, lest we be raving at 1AM on August 30th). I actually watched a good chunk of it the night before the delay broadcast because it was being streamed live on Nico. In fact for people who can navigate Nicovideo, they can watch the 2-hour show, after the fact, here. Or you can just do what all the kids do and download it, non-kosher.

The NYC event was sold out and it got bad enough that whiffs of con funk started to percolate in the not-as-drafty-as-it-could-be indie movie theater–it was a very humid day too, which probably was what made it possible. A van with a satellite dish was parked around the corner at the venue, and this was only significant because the night before the live viewing organizers raised the possibility, via email, that the show may be cancelled due to technical problems arising from using a satellite dish. Thankfully the show was without a hitch.

Doing calls with glowsticks at a movie theater is not easy. We got in line to monopolize the back row, and that made everything possible. While in line we talked to energetic kids who traveled in to watch the show with their folks, in cosplay, with mad humidity, outside in line. It was a bit like a con except with even more tangled blue-green wigs. As per your usual Miku event, the attendees trend young, on the lower side of the average anime con-going age.

After the show we walked around the area to kill some time. One of us was a Len cosplayer but given the nature of things he didn’t draw much attention. I would say it’s surreal having him outside of Katz’s Deli but I’ve been at this gig way too many times to blink.

“Hanging out with Miku” continued at dinner where we talked shop, and again at the karaoke box where we had a blast, half of us tipsy, the other half didn’t really need the alcohol.

But you really don’t get to spend quality time with Miku (and company) until you pop in Project Diva, now available for North Americans. I have to say that the songs feels much more “textured” when you experience it through that bit of active listening. Words pop out from melodic moonrunes into things with meaning; half the time the video tells the story just as well, stuff that a dance can’t quite get things across. It’s like this Freely Tomorrow PV (straight from Mitchie M) means twice as much after playing the game. Every note during Miku’s Magical Mirai show now has more texture.

Which just reminds me of this from a while ago.

I mean, like, there’s enough Miku crap out there to be swimming in it all the time. You can make a youtube play list for days on end of Vocaloid-related materials. There are enough songs out there, pro or amateur, to fill terabytes of storage–and many of them freely available legally. And in the case of the 6th birthday live, there was enough milkshake to bring all the boys to the yard. It felt like the production team outsourced MEIKO to Tecmo or something. Safe to say, my world was permeated with this crap, at least for a weekend.

So, what does this say about Vocaloid’s magical future? I think “freely tomorrow” is kind of a good description. The sky is the limit. The problem is still that it’s the same elusive, slippery and somewhat impenetrable cultural hologram that Miku always was. It’s enjoyable but as superficial as any pop cultural trend–which is to say sometimes it’s rather deep. In Miku’s case it’s coated with the magic of being a crowd-driven, crowdsourced movement during an era where the world is changing in this exact way.

What is magical, I guess, is that there are still lots of people who are working with Miku as ways of making music and ways of expressing themselves. From cosplaying to MMDs to the actual thing (which now you can buy from Big Fish Audio for North Americans), Miku’s journey has always been magical because the way it has always relied on a crowdsource model–from a corporate POV (say hello to TOKYO MX/Crypton! And Sega, Sony, NND, and all the other sponsors at Magical Mirai 2013) it’s like the marketing engine drives itself. All they have to do is to sell CDs and DVDs and promote concerts and goods the same way they always have, and things just magically sells (like Mitchie M’s new album(lol aff. link. And like, Sadamoto drawing Miku? Is that magical or what.)). Great songs pop out of nowhere magically. Cool videos come out from NND and youtube, because people make them and it just appears. From another point of view, it’s like a short series of small miracles, where people embrace this copyleft-leaning model of sharing what is good and still able to make money because it’s exactly small and good.

But to me, what’s magical about Miku and her future is that it’s an increasingly international one. Miku’s fandom is still rather niche even in Japan, and I think these vertically-oriented silos will grow a lot if we factor in all the international fans. This is partly why English Miku is a thing. Or there’s a Mikubook. It’s just a problem about being able to make operating in this international, multi-lingual way work for the entities involved. To me, it’s magical that Miku’s Magical Mirai had a world simulcast of sorts. With English promos. What other 2D Japanese fandom does this?

PS. The King Blade X10 Mk.IIs are every bit they are hyped up to be. Miku tested, omo approved. Highly recommended!

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