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What Happened to Hatsune Miku?

What Happened to Hatsune Miku?

Big mystery on the Japanese hemisphere of the Internet: why have images of and information about “vocaloidHatsune Miku (初音ミク) suddenly disappeared? Conspiracy? Foul play? Media stunt?

For those who are not familiar with Hatsune, “she” is a piece of extremely innovative software that lets you essentially program a female voice to sing whatever you please (examples can be seen here and here and all over Nico Nico Douga). The results are generally incredible, especially if you already concede that the J-pop world is filled with over-autotuned, robotic female idols behaving in pre-programmed patterns. Anyway, this software is for sale and extremely popular with the “otaku” in “Akihabara” who are the only people in Japan still interested in anything.

IT Media News reported at noon that Google Image has ceased to pull up any pictures of the green hair maiden and Yahoo! Image Search reports exactly zero images meeting that description. For example, this thumbnail shows a teapot for a page selling the software. Even though the main picture on the page is the software box, Google Image shows you the steel teapot as the thumbnail. Shrug. Also worrisome, her Wikipedia page has been readied for deletion.

So what’s going on here? Hatsune Miki’s company Crypton is claiming they have nothing to do with this, and it’s not as if the product has been pulled. Conspiracy theories are emerging. Although some think this is part of a Crypton-driven guerrilla marketing campaign, 2-ch denizens are mostly convinced that Hatsune’s virtual kidnapping is connected to a sinister TBS story about Hatsune from last weekend that barely touched on the actual software and dedicated most of its precious time to shamelessly picking on otaku (commentary here). Another theory posits that the music industry is so worried that this software will allow normal people to perfectly replicate “professional music” as to destroy their current monopoly on squeaky-voiced idol composition. Imagine if Hatsune is a hit, and Yamaha/Crypton make an enka version for D.I.Y. teary-boozy torch songs. Like the Mellotron, this piece of technology could completely make live human performance irrelevant.

I am no Net-itical Engineer or anything, but I seriously wonder if a powerful cabal can really redirect Google Image. Is a net glitch feeding paranoia? We’ll perhaps know more in the next few hours and move on to some other meme in the next few days…

W. David MARX
October 18, 2007

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

8 Responses

  1. Marcus Says:

    The Wikipedia deletion nomination is only because part of the article was copied straight from Vocaloid’s official website. If you want to mix that into your conspiracy I think you’re rather off the mark.

  2. passerby Says:

    I’m surprised you even bothered touching on this on this blog, but some people already hooked onto the idea that it might be Dentsuu or something. I find it ridiculous that Dentsuu is so bothered about something like this, and furthermore can affect the results of overseas-based search results, but then again, I know nothing (please do enlighten if there has been a case of Dentsuu coercing foreign corporations – I really don’t know).

    I think this is really a bug with the system though; before this was a big hoohah I tried searching through Google Images and saw nothing related until the 3rd page or something. And hardly a sign of the official artwork.

  3. W. David MARX Says:

    The Wikipedia deletion nomination is only because part of the article was copied straight from Vocaloid’s official website.

    Yes, but the officials at Cryptoid don’t care about the copyright issues and have been trying to make a plea to stop the deletion. In the case of the mafia guy behind the Kameda victory last year, this “copyright infringement” tactic is a way for anyone to get rid of Wikipedia sites they don’t like.

    I’m surprised you even bothered touching on this on this blog

    I like the mystery of it, and the paranoid fantasies arising from it.

  4. Aceface Says:

    Speaking of paranoid fantasy,what do you say about recent on going in 17-year-old-in-thong-bikini-front,Marxy?

    End of an era?

  5. W. David MARX Says:

    I don’t know how far they crossed the line in that particular DVD, but it’s odd that they’d go after the 17-year olds first.

    In Shibuya Tsutaya, they have all the Saaya Irie and 9-year-old girl videos stocked right next to pretty clearly “pink eiga” non-hardcore kind of movies featuring consenting adults. As long as there is money to be made, no one is going to self-censor until the cops/State makes it mandatory.

  6. Aceface Says:

    The parents of the 17 year old girl had called the cops and that’s why the producer of the DVD got busted.
    More to be followed very soon…

  7. W. David MARX Says:

    I see. Well, in most of these cases the parents are actively pimping out their children so that they may fulfill their own broken dreams of stardom, so who knows how much these arrests will continue.

  8. filosofem Says:

    Heh, a lot of crap happened lately in the otaku world. Like, the last episode of some late-night anime got pulled because of a murder case by a high-school girl and stuff.

    But Hatsune Miku? Personally I wasn’t very impressed after actually playing around with this program. It’s pretty much the same technology as PCM-based sampling plus some modulations you’d find on any modern synthesizers, and somehow she always sounds a bit off-key to me.

    The way I see it, this program isn’t really serious enough to challenge anything. At least not in its commercially distributed form. Actually someone has compiled Miku’s “1st song album” complete with cover art and stuff, but I doubt anyone would be fooled into thinking it’s real… But then again, if most instruments can already be convincingly represented by modern synths, why not vocals?