Since Crypton Future Media first released their vocal synthesiser application and its associated anime character way back in 2006, Hatsune Miku has become an iconic figure in both otaku and mainstream pop culture. If collaborations with Family Mart, Google Chrome, Dominos, and Louis Vuitton, numerous live concerts and even an “opera” performance are anything to go by, it seems as if interest in Hatsune Miku is still going strong.
Tokyo City View in Roppongi is featuring a pop up Hatsune Miku Cafe that celebrates both the character and the fan-created songs and videos that made her famous.
Operating under the theme ‘Hatsune Miku with LOVE’, the space features a mini exhibition of famous illustrations, screenings of Vocaloid Cinema Party, as well as a life-sized model of the Vocaloid star herself. One corner of the cafe also has an video and audio archive of Hatsune Miku-related media for both customers and passer-bys to access.
The cafe also features a huge wall full of teal and white heart-shaped sticky notes that previous customers have written messages and drawn pictures on.
Next door, there is a special gift shop stocked with Hatsune Miku merchandise.
Of course the cafe also offers a thoroughly themed menu, complete with Hatsune Miku-shaped rice and curry, leek soba, and an assortment of vividly coloured drinks named after songs that were composed with Vocaloid software by fans.
While Vocaloid started out as a production tool that pieced together sounds to create a realistic “singing” voice, having Hatsune Miku associated with the software created a character that viewers could associate with and use to create a variety of complementary media, from 3D animated music videos to illustrations.
Cross-promotion and marketing of products and animated characters across a different range of services and media platforms in Japan is nothing new, but the cultural impact that Hatsune Miku has had because of the involvement of fan-created content is an interesting development. Without the creative input of fans and their creation of songs, videos and illustrations, Hatsune Miku would arguably not have been as big an icon as she is now, nor would the character have generated the same amount of economic value for the Vocaloid franchise.
How corporations and marketing expertise is adapting to a changing media environment where audiences have the ability to both create their own content as well as share it with others almost as easily as major content producers is something that will be interesting to consider in the future. One thing is for sure, there will probably be many more collaborations to come – we definitely aren’t the only ones who can’t get enough of Hatsune Miku!