MEIKO is a Japanese VOCALOID developed and distributed by Crypton Future Media, Inc., and was initially released in November 2004 for the first VOCALOID engine. There has since been a second installment developed for the VOCALOID3 engine, dubbed MEIKO V3. Her voice is provided by the Japanese female singer, Meiko Haigō (拝郷 メイコ Haigō Meiko).
The illustration was done by Shogo Washizu, often called わっしー(Wasshi), a former member of Crypton. Crypton placed this product on the market with a box art that depicted a female illustrated character. This character had nothing to do with the singer's image, but her anime-based appearance appealed to the mainstream audience and the software sold well. Wat even stated how different the intention of the CV series and KAITO/MEIKO were during the development of KAITO V3. This even led to the direction of the updates leading to a completely different course of development compared to the Appends of Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Rin/Len, and Megurine Luka.
MEIKO's boxart hides the front of her red sleeveless jacket, it is difficult to tell what design it consists of. Due to this factor, there are many different designs, even for official artwork. There is no official given age. Although, in Maker Hikōshiki Hatsune Mix she is usually portrayed as a middle-aged woman by KEI, who mentioned in a magazine interview that what he depicts in the comic is not official.
Spurned on by the items held by Hatsune Miku and KAITO, it became popular to feature MEIKO with One Cup Ozeki (sake).
Putting a character on the boxart proved to be a successful marketing strategy. It influenced the development and art style of other VOCALOIDs such as KAITO and Hatsune Miku. Of the Crypton Future Media VOCALOIDs, while she does have a significant amount of merchandise, MEIKO is often less likely to be promoted than some of the other VOCALOIDs.
MEIKO was well-received and sold well compared to her counterpart KAITO, becoming the most popular of the two. For a long time, she was the best selling Crypton Future Media VOCALOID until the release of Hatsune Miku and sold 3,000+ units. This was three times the number of sales she needed to sell to be classified as successful.
By 2010, whereas KAITO appeared in the Crypton ranking of their best-selling products, MEIKO had fallen from popularity, receiving the least amount of attention of the Crypton VOCALOIDs overall. In the same year, MEIKO was ranked as the 7th most popular VOCALOID product they sold and the least popular of Crypton Future Media's own VOCALOIDs. On December 10th, 2011, MEIKO, along with the Kagamines' append, were the only VOCALOID software packages not on the top ten list.
A month after the Meiko V3 release, Meiko took the no.1 spot on the charts. This was the first time Meiko had ever held a spot in the top 10 since the charts began. However, her no.1 spot was short lived and by April she had dropped to the no.3 spot. This was a much faster fall from no.1 then Kaito V3, who managed to hang onto the place for several months after release.
After revived interest began to occur in her counterpart, KAITO, following Miku's release, MEIKO users also attempted to revive the interest as well. The Japanese fandom has taken great measures to push her voice to its limits. This is demonstrated by the fanmade derivative "Sakine Meiko," which was the product of producers testing MEIKO's capabilities to produce a much younger sounding voice. Though this involves heavy investment of time to make such a big adjustment to her vocals, it does highlight the overall potential of the VOCALOID era voicebanks, as the same techniques have also from time to time been applied to others of the same software with the same level of results.
An independent search on Nico Nico Douga revealed that most VOCALOIDs had less then 1,000 videos uploaded on Nico Nico Douga in 2011 between July 1st and December 15th. MEIKO, however, did manage to be the 2nd most popular VOCALOID when a mean count was done with 423 views and 21 mylists.
A Japanese electro-pop artist, Susumu Hirasawa, announced that he used a female VOCALOID in the original soundtrack of "Paprika" by Satoshi Kon on his blog. Since Susumu Hirasawa did not reveal which VOCALOID he used for quite some time, except the fact it was a female, many producers speculated it was MEIKO. However, he later mentioned in a magazine interview that it was LOLA.
An old myth within the overseas fandom is that her samples were not from Meiko Haigō, but from a computer that generated samples that sounded like her.