Hatsune Miku (初音ミク), codenamed CV01, was the first Japanese VOCALOID to be both developed and distributed by Crypton Future Media, Inc.. She was initially released in August 2007 for the VOCALOID2 engine and was the first member of the Character Vocal Series. She was the seventh VOCALOID overall, as well as the second VOCALOID2 vocal released to be released for the engine. Her voice is provided by the Japanese voice actress, Saki Fujita (藤田 咲, Fujita Saki). There has since been numerous installments such as additional voice banks dubbed 'Append', as well as an upgrade to the VOCALOID3 engine, which includes her long awaited English vocal release.
She is considered the most popular and well known VOCALOID and the first to become a pop idol.
Crypton had the idea to release Miku as "an android diva in the near-future world where songs are lost."
Her very first concept was of a bilingual Japanese and English vocal, but this later became the concept of Megurine Luka.
The name of the title and character for the software was chosen by combining Hatsu (初, first), Ne (音, sound), and Miku (ミク, future), thus meaning "the first sound from the future."
Her codename of "CV01" means "Character Voice 01".
When KEI illustrated Miku, he was given a color scheme to work with (based on YAHAMA synthesizers' signature blue-green colour) and was asked to draw Miku as an android. Crypton also provided KEI with Miku's detailed concepts, however, Crypton said it was not easy to explain what a "Vocaloid" was to him. KEI said he could not create an image of a "singing computer" at first, as he did not even know what a "synthesizer" was. It took him more than a month to complete the commission.
Miku was originally intended to have a different hairstyle, but after trying out pigtails, KEI thought they were more suitable. Her pigtails have since become an iconic part of her design. On June 22, 2012, Hatsune Miku's twin tails even earned her the title of the Twin Tail which best represented the 2000s, marking her the best set of Twin Tails from the dawn of the 21st century. She now shares her twin tail distinction with other characters like Sailor Moon (who won best Twin Tails for the 90s period).
The digital design on Miku's skirt and boots is based off synthesizer program colours, and the bars represent actual bars within the program, following Crypton's ideas. Part of her design is based on some of YAMAHA's keyboard models, particularly the DX-100 and the DX-7. The thin squares around her pigtails are futuristic ribbons made of a special material that floats in place. As seen in KEI's art for Miku, they are able to hold Miku's pigtails in place without having to physically touch the hair itself. The ribbons are also reported by KEI to be the hardest item on the character's design for cosplayers to recreate.
After an internet meme involving Hachune Miku, Miku was associated with a spring onion (often mistaken for a leek due to the similar appearance). This, along with KAITO's association with ice cream, started a discussion called "the Item War" within the VOCALOID fandom, where it became traditional for new VOCALOIDs to have an item assigned to them and the items were debated upon until one stuck via an Internet Meme. This occurrence has since died out.
Miku's initial marketing was similar to past software synthesizers and VOCALOID voicebanks, and was standard marketing for the software at her time of release. She was originally aimed only at professional producers; the amateur and Otaku market hadn't fully formed yet, and so it was not initially considered. For a variety of reasons, Miku received unexpected commercial success. Due to Miku's popularity boom, Crypton had the chance to take advantage of early technical support for Miku and several guidebooks and magazine support were released solely focused on her vocals. This type of technical coverage was even possible long after Miku's initial release and methods of adapting her vocals are the most well documented among the VOCALOID2 era vocals.
Since the success of her voicebank led to an expansion of marketing possibilities, most of the mass marketing has come after her initial release as a response to her popularity. Even with the addition of other Character Vocals, Miku's name continues to be used as the primary source of marketing for Crypton Future Media, to the point where most products for their VOCALOIDs will usually only feature Miku's name, despite the inclusion of other Crypton VOCALOIDs. In March 2012, the Nomura Research Institute estimated that the sales of all "Hatsune Miku" brand goods added up into the region of ¥10,000,000,000 since her release in 2007. Miku's name is now the easiest of all VOCALOIDs to market. Also owed to her popularity, many VOCALOID related products such as piano sheet music packs, books, and magazines carry her image on the front cover. Around January 28, 2013, a 3 day survey was run by Tokyo Polytechnic University. During the survey (based on ages 12–38) 95% of those entering reported knowing who Hatsune Miku was, in comparison participants barely knew who Megpoid, IA or Aoki Lapis were.
Corolla Miku, presented in 2011, wears slightly different attire compared to KEI's original design: instead of one skirt stripe and single floating ribbons, she now has two, as was intended by the client.
In 2011, Crypton began to focus on marketing Miku to U.S. audiences. On May 7, USAmazon placed a preview of Supercell's hit song, "World is Mine", as a single. When the song finally went on sale, it came 7th in the top 10 World singles list on iTunes in its first week of sales. The entry was presented as "The World is Mine Feat. Hatsune Miku". Crypton had to consider who they were aiming the advertisements of Miku at (mostly the web fanbase) and had to check the differences between the Japanese and English fan communities. Since Crypton had always sold Miku as a virtual instrument in Japan, they asked their Japanese fan base if it was acceptable for them to sell her as a virtual singer to the new market audience. The main purpose of the Miku English version is to allow Japanese producers to break into the west and also expand their audiences.
Crypton Future Media do not approve of using Miku in politics. This is, so far, one of the biggest areas of marketing that Miku has avoided being used for. However, Hatsune Miku sung the theme song for Japanese National Election candidate, Yoshikazu Tarui. Despite this, her mascot was not used; instead, a pink twin-tailed girl dubbed Android Rui replaced her.
The initial sales of Hatsune Miku were so high that Tokyo 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. 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 at that time. It was confirmed in her first year alone, Miku sold 40,000+ units, on an average of 300 units per week. Later reports came that she had sold 60,000+ copies of her software. To add perspective, normally selling 1,000 copies of a synthesizing software was considered good business.
Miku's Append was not as well received as her original voicebank, though it managed to stay in the top ten products from Crypton Future Media. However, it disappeared from the list entirely from time to time. Despite this, it has been known to have reached the top 3 products on occasion, as well as to knock other CV vocals further down the charts. Miku was ranked as the no.1 VOCALOID™ product they sold, and despite drifting between ranks on their product list, her Append managed to grab 2nd place.
Hatsune Miku V3 English was reported as being the top selling "Virtual Instrument" on Big Fish Audio's blog in August 2013. In September, it came in 2nd place and went back up to 1st in October.
Hatsune Miku V3 was reported to have over saturated Yamaha's servers with requests for activation upon release. In October 2013, Hatsune Miku V3 and its bundle package disrupted the Crypton Future Media product charts, taking both the 1st and 2nd place spots between them. Other Vocaloid products sold by Cryton Future Media ended up being misplaced from their normal ranking spots. This was the first time the Vocaloid products had been impacted so drastically since their charts began.
On October 15th, Wat reported there was 10,000+ orders of the Hatsune Miku V3 package on backlog.
For most of 2014, Hatsune Miku's V3 and Hatsune Miku V3 complete packages held the 1st and 2nd spot of the product rankings. Even after the release of MEIKO V3, the two packages soon retook their positions and MEIKO V3 managed to only hold the top spot for a month and a half.
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 today. 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 Ievan Polkka, presented multifarious possibilities of using 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, animations in 2D and 3D, and remixes by other users. Other creators would show their unfinished work and ask for ideas.
Miku has remained the fan favorite among the Japanese fandom, having the strongest following and usage even after the release of much better VOCALOID2 vocals. Her popularity was so high that when GazettE’s Aoi made a negative comment about her through twitter, he was immediately met with outraged fans and was forced to retract some of his statements after trying out the software for himself. Indeed, most of the more popular songs of VOCALOID are sung by Miku, having more hit songs on Nico Nico Douga than any other VOCALOID.
It was stated in 2013, that videos tagged with Miku's name reached between 1,000 and 1,500 videos each month. This was by far the most videos of any Vocaloid on Nico nico Douga.
According to google trends, Miku has had a fairly stable popularity since April 2008. While interest in her under the name of "初音ミク" has fallen quite dramatically, increase of her as "Hatsune Miku" has risen in comparison, likely due to the increase interest overseas. Oddly, despitre the reported amount of registrations for Miku in the month of her release, Miku has lost much of her stable popularity using the name "初音ミク".
Hatsune Miku's popularity had a major impact on the development of other Crypton Future Media voicebanks. Due to the huge market for her voicebank and character image, Crypton have sometimes been overwhelmed by demand. This caused delays to other VOCALOID2 projects, including the release of an additional character, CV04. How much impact her popularity has had on other VOCALOID™ voicebanks is unknown, but Crypton Future Media has many delayed voicebanks that were originally set for a VOCALOID2 release.
Project If... was largely impacted also by Hatsune Miku's popularity, even in the early planning stages. Wat also felt this was a nightmare and that the relationship between Vocaloid and humans had gone wrong.
Her design has also influenced the VOCALOID™ mascot designs of other companies, creating common design influence that divides fans opinions on character design. Her design has also spawned many producer based derivatives. She is the most common VOCALOID™ vocal to receive derivatives due to the popularity of her voicebank and heavy promotions by Crypton Future Media.
Because of Miku's success, Crypton Future Media were able to open up services to allow more support for their VOCALOIDs, including websites such as Piapro and Karen-T, concerts and merchandise. By 2009, some were referring to her as VOCALOID™'s first "Diva". In 2010, Crypton Future Media produced a ranking of the VOCALOIDs they sold on their website; since then, Miku has consistently led or been close to leading.
In 2012, a poll was held for the London Olympic Games 2012 which asked people which singer or group they would like to see at the Olympics. Miku reached the no.1 spot, beating famous singers such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. The poll was not official and was done for popularity reasons.
An independent search on Nico Nico Douga revealed that most VOCALOIDs had less then 1,000 videos uploaded on Nico Nico Douga between July 1 and December 15, 2011. Miku, however, had managed to gain 9,904 uploads to the site during this period, making her number one in video submissions for VOCALOID related videos. She also had the highest number of total views during this period with 23,847,081 views and 1,943,303 mylists. However, Miku was put in 3rd place on average number of views per video with 2407.82 views per video (and 196.21 mylists). However, a comment led by the report noted that due to the popularity of the most famous producers it was much harder to assess. When the mean number was conducted, which was a more accurate report of the VOCALOIDs during this period, Miku did not make it into the top 6 VOCALOIDs despite having consistent no.1s throughout this period.
In 2014 a poll was run to find the top things that made people think of "Cool Japan", 1000 people took part in the vote. In the poll, Miku came 8th, gaining 35.8% of all votes (total 358 voters).
Because she is the first VOCALOID many got to know and the first to draw a large amount of attention, there are a number of common misconceptions about her:
Miku is often mistaken as the very first VOCALOID produced by those new or unfamiliar with the software's history, or the first VOCALOID2 released.
While she was the first VOCALOID2 to be released for the Japanese market, it was PowerFX's Sweet ANN who claimed the place as the first VOCALOID2, released 2 months prior to Miku.
When Miku became more well-known in 2010, the media also followed this misconception. On more than one occasion Crypton Future Media have labelled her as the first, though this is likely an error as they usually introduce her as "the first of the character vocal series".
However, Miku was the first VOCALOID developed specifically for VOCALOID2 as Sweet ANN, codenamed "JODIE" was originally developed for the VOCALOID engine, not VOCALOID2.
Since 2010, Miku has won the classification of "Virtual Diva" and has become a pop star in her own right. However, some reports mislabel her as "the first virtual star" when other "virtual stars" have been released prior to her existence as early as the mid-1990s, although these "stars" never rose to the level of popularity Miku has reached.
Miku is also not the first VOCALOID to debut in America, as Zero-G's VOCALOIDs were already on sale prior to her arrival. However, all previous VOCALOIDs failed to make an impact in the USA.
Miku is also not the first VOCALOID2 to have an avatar; the first was Sweet ANN, who was based on a "bride of Frankenstein" theme. However, Miku was the first to have a profile that expanded on the concept of an avatar. LEON and LOLA did not feature a character on their boxart, MIRIAM had a blurred photo of MIRIAM Stockley, and though KAITO and MEIKO had characters on their boxart, they were not originally meant to represent their vocals.
She was also not the first to feature in a concert; MIRIAM was the first, in 2004. However, Miku was the first to actually be featured "live" in the concert whereas MIRIAM's concert featured just her vocal.
Sound Horizon, a popular band that uses music to tell stories, used Hatsune Miku in their third single "Ido e Itaru Mori e Itaru Ido" and its corresponding album, "Marchen". Saki Fujita, Miku's voice actor, also does narrations.
With a total of 15 voicebanks released, Miku now has the most vocals released for the VOCALOID™ engine.
First Japanese VOCALOID2 to be released
First of Crypton Future Media's Character Vocal series
First specialized vocal of VOCALOID2
First VOCALOID to have a "true" avatar given
First VOCALOID to have a bio
Highest amount of pre-orders of a software synthesizer
Holds the highest sales figures of all VOCALOIDs
First VOCALOID to earn the status of "Diva"
Most awarded VOCALOID software released
First VOCALOID to be Appended
Most common/popular VOCALOID
A number of the Internet Memes linked to VOCALOID
Most songs created to date
Most merchandise to date
First VOCALOID to have a videogame
First VOCALOID to be on stage
One of 3 voicebanks used by the robot HRP-4C
First to have a song with a million views
First VOCALOID2 by Crypton to be upgraded to VOCALOID3
The image gallery for Hatsune Miku may be viewed here.