Who is Hatsune Miku?
Hatsune Miku (初音ミク), codenamed CV01, was the first Japanese VOCALOID to be both developed and distributed by Crypton Future Media, Inc.
She was initially released in August 2007 for the VOCALOID2 engine and was the first member of the Character Vocal Series. She was the seventh VOCALOID overall, as well as the second VOCALOID2 vocal released to be released for the engine.
There have since been numerous installments, such as additional voice libraries dubbed 'Append', as well as an upgrade for the VOCALOID3 engine, which contained an English vocal release.
She received a VOCALOID4 update to her Japanese and English voicebanks in August 2016, as well as a Mandarin Chinese voicebank in September 2017.
Her voice is provided by the Japanese voice actress Saki Fujita (藤田咲, Fujita Saki).
She is considered the most popular and well known VOCALOID, and the first to become a pop idol.
Why was she created?
Crypton had the idea to release Miku as "an android diva in the near-future world where songs are lost.
Her very first concept was of a bilingual Japanese and English vocal, but this later became the concept of Megurine Luka.
The name was chosen by combining hatsu (初, "first"), ne (音, "sound"), and Miku (未来, a personal name that shares its spelling with the word for "future").
It thus means "the first sound from the future." Her name was based on her concept of that when a sound is first spoken.
Her codename of "CV01" means "Character Voice 01".
Her name in Chinese is "Chūyīn Wèilái" (Simplified Chinese: 初音未来; Traditional Chinese: 初音未來).
The origin behind her design
When KEI illustrated Miku, he was given a color scheme to work with (based on the YAMAHA synthesizers' signature blue-green colour) and was asked to draw Miku as an android. Crypton also provided KEI with Miku's detailed concepts, however, Crypton said it was not easy to explain what a "Vocaloid" was to him. KEI said he could not create an image of a "singing computer" at first, as he did not even know what a "synthesizer" was. It took him more than a month to complete the commission.
Miku was originally intended to have a different hairstyle, but after trying out pigtails, KEI thought they were more suitable. Her pigtails have since become an iconic part of her design. On June 22, 2012, Hatsune Miku's twin tails even earned her the title of the Twin Tail which best represented the 2000s, marking her the best set of Twin Tails from the dawn of the 21st century. She now shares her twin tail distinction with other characters like Sailor Moon (who won best Twin Tails back in the 90s period).
The digital design on Miku's skirt and boots is based off synthesizer program colours, and the bars represent actual bars within the program, following Crypton's ideas. Part of her design is based on some of YAMAHA's keyboard models, particularly the DX-100 and the DX-7. The thin squares around her pigtails are futuristic ribbons made of a special material that floats in place. As seen in KEI's art for Miku, they are able to hold Miku's pigtails in place without having to physically touch the hair itself. The ribbons are also reported by KEI to be the hardest item on the character's design for cosplayers to recreate.
Her VOCALOID2 Append design is often subjected to censorship. In the original design, there is a bare strip of flesh under the tie area. In many depictions, this bare strip of flesh is not shown and is covered. For example, while Max Factory models showing the uncensored version in their normal and Figma models, the Project Diva game series shy away from showing any exposure.
How she took Japan by storm
Miku's initial marketing was similar to past software synthesizers and VOCALOID voicebanks, and was standard marketing for the software at her time of release. For the most part a large proportion was centered on DTM MAGAZINE, like MEIKO and KAITO before her since the readership of the magazine had greatly influenced those two past VOCALOIDs. For the most part, the only pre-planned promotion was with DTM MAGAZINES November 2007 issue - due to the inclusion of a CD with the demo of Miku on it, this particular issue sold out.
She was originally aimed only at professional producers; the amateur and Otaku market hadn't fully formed yet, and so it was not initially considered. For a variety of reasons, Miku received unexpected commercial success. Due to Miku's popularity boom, Crypton had the chance to take advantage of early technical support for Miku and several guidebooks and magazine support were released solely focused on her vocals. This type of technical coverage was even possible long after Miku's initial release and methods of adapting her vocals are the most well documented among the VOCALOID2 era vocals.
Since the success of her voicebank led to an expansion of marketing possibilities, most of the mass marketing has come after her initial release as a response to her popularity. Even with the addition of other Character Vocals, Miku's name continues to be used as the primary source of marketing for Crypton Future Media. In March 2012, the Nomura Research Institute estimated that the sales of all "Hatsune Miku" brand goods added up into the region of ¥10,000,000,000 since her release in 2007.
Miku's name is now the easiest of all VOCALOIDs to market. Also owed to her popularity, many VOCALOID related products such as piano sheet music packs, books, and magazines carry her image on the front cover. Around January 28, 2013, a 3 day survey was run by Tokyo Polytechnic University. During the survey (based on ages 12–38) 95% of those entering reported knowing who Hatsune Miku was, in comparison participants barely knew who Megpoid, IA or Aoki Lapis were.
In 2011, Crypton began to focus on marketing Miku to U.S. audiences. On May 7, USAmazon placed a preview of Supercell's hit song, "World is Mine", as a single. When the song finally went on sale, it came 7th in the top 10 World singles list on iTunes in its first week of sales. The entry was presented as "The World is Mine Feat. Hatsune Miku".
Since Crypton had always sold Miku as a virtual instrument in Japan, they asked their Japanese fan base if it was acceptable for them to sell her as a virtual singer to the new market audience. The main purpose of the Miku English version is to allow Japanese producers to break into the West and also expand their audiences.