On the humanization of Miku Hatsune

I had the chance to discuss with Aelysium about Miku Hatsune. He’s a fellow aniblogger and Miku Hatsune fan and its a total pleasure to do this co-post with him.

Kuro: The idea for this post came to me while reading your post about Miku Hatsune. In that post, you mentioned Miku is a computer program that became a canvas of human emotions because of humans, particularly, the fans’ need for emotion and empathy and I perfectly agree with that sentiment because the fans have been humanizing Miku Hatsune as of late. There are songs that Miku doesn’t sing as a character, but rather, she sings as her own self, singing as Miku Hatsune. It’s pretty intriguing that her fans are able to treat her as a person rather than a mere vocal software.

Aelysium: I think that as Miku has dominated the larger viral anime world, she has started to become not a creation but something the fans can put themselves into. Anthropomorphism is the term here. Whilst technically miku isn’t an animal nor a living being, fans have developed an all too human attachment to her. In the world of anime fandom, 2-D and 3-D boundaries are often blurred, we like to exalt the 2-D and even diminish the 3-D. Miku is essentially being treated as her own person as we have become so enamoured with the idea that we no longer wish to treat her as a virtual idol but as a potential reality – a thing that can’t be human but has all her humanity about her. In essence, Miku seems to be that idol everyone has been longing for: ever young, ever pure, ever sympathetic and with a talent for cute dancing and amazing singing – is it so surprising that fans have humanized her?

Kuro: Not really, although I think that the reason for the fans humanizing Miku is more than just looking for the perfect idol. I think its something more… I think they’re searching for someone they can show their affection for, not a husk that they can just throw their emotions at, but rather a person who will engage them back when they throw their emotions at that person, and Miku Hatsune does that with her songs. An interesting example of what I’ve said is the song The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku. Rumor has it that the story behind the song is that back then when Vocaloids is just becoming increasingly popular that “Miku Hatsune” is being searched so much in the internet that popular search engines mistook the search query “Miku Hatsune” as spam and removed the search results related to Miku Hatsune, effectively erasing her from the internet, and the song came up as a response to that. That’s Miku Hatsune responding back!

From a purely otaku perspective, Miku Hatsune is like a shining beacon; She is always there and through her songs she interacts with her fans. Unlike most real life idols whose songs are pretty much novelty, Miku’s songs have meaning and always inspire emotion to her listeners. Whenever I listen to the song The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku, I can’t help but cry and think that a world without Miku Hatsune is such a sad world. With songs like that, Miku Hatsune can pull your heartstrings enough to care for her as a person, especially if you’re a Vocaloid fan.

Aelysium: But I guess this just begs the question of what exactly actually sets Miku apart from the usual AKB idol or pop stars? Why is it Miku songs seem to inspire so much emotion, considering they are sung by a lifeless program? It’s odd that people have become so indulgent on the phenomena, it’s almost become a hedonistic craze. I think the reason for all the above is simply possibility. Miku envisions possibility.

People have collectively assimilated hopes, dreams, tears, happiness and themselves into the Miku songs. What we’re getting when we listen to Miku is not just a “fan creation” but actually a song about a fan – or a score of them. People feel personally engaged with Miku because we are all too aware of her in-humanness yet at the same time are inspired by how human she is. The conglomeration of music under her belt represents the efforts of the every fan, and the (anonymous) medium of Vocaloid allows people to really express what they feel unabashedly regardless of the message or intended meaning. It gives people a platform to be honest and to share that honesty. It’s the possibility for people to really show, share and discuss who they are. Miku embodies not only the creators but also anyone else who shares the sentiment – and sentiments are certainly universal. Other idols or stars in comparison feel stifled, fake, un-obtainable (emotionally and romantically) and dishonest. But how can they compare really – Miku isn’t one person, she is the artifice for communal expression. A community built around its people. And who serves the needs of the people, better than the people? Unhinged possibility built upon by the very people it seeks to reach, Miku inspires people because she IS the people.

Kuro: True that. Miku is the people, yet she is herself. Miku Hatsune is just more than a computer voice or a 2D drawing, she is the embodiment and representative of the Vocaloid community that became her own person.

Yet when one listens to her songs, it is easy to forget the fact that her songs are a representative of the people and think that she’s singing as her own self. Miku’s Hajimete no Oto is a very emotional song about Miku telling the listener that she may be unchanging and unable to go along the changes of the world, she will always be there for those who want to listen to her sing. After thinking much about it, the song could be the composer’s way of saying that the fans will always be there for Miku and Miku’s first sound will always remain in her fans’ hearts.

Aelysium: I guess it’s the simultaneous ability for Miku to be a collective conception, but also an independent character who fans feel connected to, that has humanized her – It’s an interesting duality and the resulting post-humanity is nothing short of incredible.

Kuro: Indeed, though what I find really interesting is that in humanizing Miku, the fans are united under one banner. The fans are so united that race and language become irrelevant between fans when uniting under Miku Hatsune’s cause.

An example of what I’m saying is that in a poll surveying which artist is most requested to perform in the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremonies, Miku Hatsune was ranked number 1 in the votes, beating the likes of Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.

Another example is this video of Packaged by Miku Hatsune. Just look at the comments, it is amazing how many fans Miku Hatsune has united through her song.

Aelysium: In the end, we are all but a fleeting moment. We should strive to be enjoyable. That is what Miku is, a fleeting song. But one that seems to penetrate quite deeply for a lot of people.

Kuro: Miku maybe a fleeting song, but the impression that she left in her fans is everlasting and she unites all her fans around the world through her songs. Miku Hatsune is truly a very interesting character.

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5 thoughts on “On the humanization of Miku Hatsune

  1. She’s no Sharon Apple! That said, the phenomenon is a fascinating one that I think was made possible by the sort of archaic approach to pop fandoms seen in Japan. While trying to describe AKB48 to my family the other day they said it was just like the old fan insanity for The Beatles or the Bay City Rollers.

  2. Pingback: On the Humanization of Hatsune Miku | Anime Elysium

  3. I wonder if my love of linux is similar to Miku Fandom? I think any humanization that does happen has something to do with the copy-leftish culture that surrounds the song production. Everyone has their own “Miku”: she is infinitely malleable and can never ‘age’. I think there is an analogous thing happening with 2D Love and 2D singing–there is more projection and forced identification going on. Miku is something that is produced from the fans inner desires and wishes, so its no surprise that it inspires the fans desires and wishes.

    • I don’t think it is a forced identification, but rather a realization of a fan’s imagination. I don’t know if linux or mac fans do humanize the object of their fandom beyond the “linux-tan” or mac-tan” fan characterizations, but I do think that Miku fans are a very unique fandom.

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