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…