Greetings and salutations, all you lovely readers out there. Wow! Can you believe that its already the month of August? Well, as Malaysians, we know that this is the time of the year where raise our flags and show our utmost patriotism to celebrate our nations independence. Also, the month of August is also known for the Hungry Ghost Festival amongst the Chinese and Bon Odori for the Japanese- a month of remembrance and celebration for those long passed. For anime aficionados though, the month of August is for Hatsune Miku’s birthday (release).
Yes folks, that’s right, on the 31st of August, 2007, the Yamaha Corporation’s voice bank software Vocaloid 2 introduced Hatsune Miku to world- but we’re gonna save that topic for a little later. Today’s spotlight is all about that synthesizer software and its other characters.
In March of 2000, Kenmochi Hideki, often referred as to the “Father of VOCALOID” was the group team leader of Yamaha’s Sound Technology Development Center began developing the software at Pompeu Fabra University, Spain, and, Initially, it was never meant for commercial used.
It wasn’t until the year 2003, the voice synthesizer software was announced to the general public, and would not be released for at least another year. The first vocaloid products were the LEON and LOLA (a male and female synth respectively), and with the MIRIAM; an English VOCALOID whose appearance based on South African singer Miriam Stockley the following year.
It should be noted that the early products did not have any character mascot associated with the products until the release of the MEIKO and the KAITO voicebanks by Zero-G in 2004 and 2006 respectively. While this move made the voicebanks successful, many still felt it sounded very artificial and left much do be desired. Fortunately, all that changed with the second generation of VOCALOIDS. Thanks to Crypton Future Media using the VOCALOID2 platform and the introduction of Hatsune Miku both revived and sparked the trend
Also, this is a very brief history on the subject, and if you’re willing to dive in headlong into the vocaloid rabbit hole, just head on over to their wiki for more in-depth history.
Now for characters, or rather known as vocalist or mascots are the illustrated versions of the product for marketing purposes. The marketing varies from company to company as some may provide their vocalist with a basic profile, backstory, or personality to attract customers. As a disclaimer, the designs have no effect on the software and is merely decorative. So, thanks to the internet, here are some of the popular vocalist (excluding Miku):
A more mature voicebank than her contemporaries, Megurine Luka, a voicebank develop by Crypton Future Media and was released on 2009. She has a much deeper and warmer voice than most, more resembling that of a young-adult than a teenager. With a much mellower voice gave hear a clearer enunciation compared to other Vocaloids in the VOCALOID2 engine. Her biggest claim to fame is her ability to sing in English unlike others at the time, and is most famous for covering Lady Gaga songs in the 2010s.
While Male Vocaloids weren’t really in high demands amongst fans and both producers alike compared to the female ones, but Kaito managed to become a mainstay. Created by the Yamaha Corporation, Kaito had a rougher sounding voice and pronunciation as he was designed to work with the first generation Vocaloid engine. Kaito’s voice was sampled by Naoto Fuga, the singer famous for making theme songs for Kamen Rider. While Kaito doesn’t have as much solo songs under his belt, but is more commonly paired as a husband for Luka, Meiko and/or Miku.
Just like kaito, Meiko was develop by Yamaha too and meant to work in tandem. Meiko’s voice was sampled from singer Meiko Haigo, hence the namesake. Another similarity to Kaito, Meiko was never meant to have a personification or illustration and a name attached at first. This however didn’t stop fans from dubbing her Sakine Meiko and characterizing her as mom or sister like figure. Her popularity over the years have garnered her some original songs like Evil Food Eater Conchita.
Rin and Len Kagamine
Rin and Len Kagamine are easily distinguishable to other Vocaloid characters when first introduced, this is due to their 2-in-1 gimmick. Being the first and so far, the only duo Vocaloids released by any company. The duo shares the same complementary design, outfit, surname and voice sampling. While never clearly stated as twins or even siblings, despite this was the original intentions of the developer, Crypton Future Media. Thankfully this decision was never followed through, and with the “twin” label dropped kept the duo safe being depicted as incestuous.
Released back in 2008, introduced to the public as Camui Gackpo, being voiced by popular J-Pop star Gackt and character illustrations by manga artist Kentaro Miura. Gackpoid brought a deeper, very masculine voice to Vocaloid lineup, easily swooning many female fans. The masculinity of the character made a staple of serious (sometimes grim) songs to his repertoire. Being voiced and modeled by Gackt has elevated the character’s popularity (albeit a niche one).
A fairly recent entry in the halls of Vocaloid characters, IA has the honor of being of first in the VOCALOID3 engine voicebanks to released. Her namesake is from Japanese singer Lia know for her songs being featured in both games and anime. Lia’s interest into techno-related genres is evident in IA’s design. Despite being fairly new in the game, her song Six Trillion Years and Overnight Story, along with A Realistic Logical Ideologist have become widely popular.
Created by software company Internet CO., Ltd., the Vocaloid Lily back in 2010. This energetic Vocaloid is specially designed for high energy songs- very evident in her character design giving an electric motif. Her voice is sampled from singer Yuri Masuda, a prominent J-Pop artist, and the name Lily is a direct translation of Yuri in English. Due to this, her career skyrocketed after her debut of her generation.
So, this was certainly a lengthy post and I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. Also, don’t worry, Miku will get her time to shine in the next post- I promise. Anyways, thanks as always. Till next time, you guys!