The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku? The State of Vocaloid Told Through the MV for “Suna no Wakusei”
Popular Nico Nico music composer/vocaloid producer Kenshi Yonezu aka “Hachi” has finally returned with the MV for “Suna no Wakusei”, the theme song for Magical Mirai 2017. The song seems highly suggestive of the future of vocaloid and Nico Nico Douga.
Hatsune Miku and people with instruments march thorough the desert. Repeating “Bye Bye Bye”, they finally discover a birthday cake made from scraps of iron. 2017 is the 10th anniversary of Hatsune Miku so the cake must have been arranged for her.
Why is the cake celebrating Miku’s 10th anniversary made of iron scrap? Why is the scene in this MV a planet of sand?
Hatsune Miku is the first product of the character vocal series released in 2007 by Crypton Future Media, Inc. Users enable Miku to sing and dance as they program on a computer. In the beginning, cover songs were made up of a majority but gradually users tended to upload original songs to Nico Nico Douga.
The famous song of an early date like “Miku Miku Ni Shite Ageru” and “Melt” made a noticeable impact, which contributed the increase of the number of Miku users. The phrase “People born by melt shock” in “Suna no Wakusei” might refer to this boost. On December 27th of 2007, KAGAMINE RIN/LEN, the second product of character vocal series was released and vocaloid and NicoNico Douga became popular among the youth.
The popularity of Miku did not remain just within Japan. On July 2nd, 2011, her first solo concert”MIKUNOPOLIS in LOS ANGELES” was held at Anime Expo 2011. Even at this point in time, Miku holds solo concerts in front of thousands of fans all over the world.
However, the tone of vocaloid and Nico Nico Douga seems to have shifted to a different key. Miku once swept the top 10 in rankings but she currently remains sequestered. The number of Miku songs uploaded have decreased, so the title “Suna no Wakusei” accurately shows the actual state of the culture.
Then, why did Nico Nico Douga and vocaloid go into a gradual decline?
The change of environment people watch NicoNico Douga must be related to the decadence. Smartphones were not widely used in 2007 when Miku was released. For such occasions, the users watched the videos on their computer. The media succeeded to make up a community with comments flowing across the screen.
However, the spread of smartphones prevented the community from growing further. The smartphone app for NicoNico Douga is not suitable for commenting, which has sustained the form of community. Young people tend to favor YouTube for its simpleness and ease of use on smartphones.
A figure strengthens this statement. On July 22nd, 2017, the number of views of “Suna no Wakusei” on YouTube is 811,717 while NicoNico Douga is much lower at 297,465. The viewers seem to have shifted away from the community aspect of participation, now simply consuming the content like TV.
Miku has been raised by the NicoNico Douga community. It is obvious that the decline of the media directly links to the that of Miku. Does vocaloid and its culture really come to the end? I do not think so.
Sachiko Kobayashi, the popular Enka singer, sang “Senbonzakura” by KurousaP at Kohaku Utagassen in 2015. The flow of comments in the movable liquid crystal panel behind her and even television screen made people surprised.
Cho-Kabuki at NicoNico Cho-Kaigi in 2016 was amazing. The collaboration of Kabuki, Japanese traditional performing art and Miku, the most advanced technology had made people understand each culture. I felt sure that the possibilities of Miku are endless.
On February 2017, “VOCALOID4 Library Yumemi Nemu” was released. The voice of Nemu Yumemi from Dempagumi.inc was sampled, so the user enables to make her sing the song the user produces. Everyone can now becomes the producer of an idol!
Vocaloid is not yet dead. However, it would be sure that the culture fades away. The phrases like “If your heart still moves, respond soon” and “Please save me from lost” seem like his earnest wish. This song might be a message from Hachi to us who lose interest in vocaloid and its culture.
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