Music / Vocaloid

Luka, Rin, Len and Miku... we couldn't fit them all in if we tried.note 

Vocaloids (from "vocal" and "android") are music synthesizing programs based on real human voice samples and technology created by the Yamaha Corporation. Think Synthetic Voice Actor meets Auto-Tune. There are currently 56 vocaloids (Rin and Len count as one product instead of two, as do anon & kanon and ZOLA PROJECT); and fans have created personalities for each character based on official art (some have no official art) and voice. Fans have also created characters based on official releases, such as Neru Akita and Haku Yowane.

To use a Vocaloid, one simply has to type in the lyrics of the song of their choosing as well as the melody for said song, although a great deal of fine-tuning is usually necessary to have the result sound natural. Vocaloids have become so popular that an official unofficial manga adaptation, Hatsune Mix, was created, telling the trials and tribulations of the Crypton-produced Vocaloid family: Meiko, Kaito, Miku Hatsune, Rin and Len Kagamine, and Luka Megurine.

Vocaloid took major steps to becoming Serious Businessnote . Flagship character Miku Hatsune has become a fully-fledged Virtual Celebrity, with an album featuring her work (composed by synthesizer band Supercell) nearly topping the Japanese music charts at No.2, and Miku herself putting on a live concert at Animelo Summer Live 2009. (Her "live" performances involve the same tech used for the Gorillaz' live shows and the 2Pac hologram from Coachella 2012.)

Toyota also began an ad campaign for their 2011-model Corolla, starring Miku herself; it was subsequently revealed that Toyota sponsored Miku's first overseas appearance — a live concert in Los Angeles at Anime Expo 2011.

In the 2010 Concert, Rin, Len, and Luka made debuts with even better renderings. In addition, the Vocaloid song "Black★Rock Shooter" (which features said character, created by artist huke) has inspired an official anime OVA of the same name, which was produced by animation studio Ordet (ex members of Kyoto Animation) and was released on 2010. Another popular song, "Kokoro" seems to be getting its own musical. "Daughter of Evil", in turn, got its own theater play and later a manga. "Cantarella" got a musical, too. The song "Kagerou Days" and other songs related to it collectively dubbed "Kagerou Project" also experienced a burst of popularity, enough to get a serialized manga and a novel written by the song's own producer, culminating in plans to produce an anime adaptation.

Miku had yet another overseas concert in Singapore during the Anime Festival Asia 2011 on November 11, 2011. In addition, during 2012's Miku Party concert, Kaito and Meiko made appearances. Starting May 6th, 2014 and going through June 3rd, Miku will be opening for Lady Gaga as a part of her ArtRave tour, performing at no less than 16 different venues.

The producers cosMo, Deco27, Putin_P, and mothy have their own pages, as does the band supercell, the music-video-making software Miku Miku Dance and SEGA's Licensed Game Hatsune Miku Project DIVA.

Note: The following is only for tropes related to official Vocaloid material. For tropes on songs, fanon, and other fan works, go here.

Provides examples of:

  • Always Identical Twins: anon and kanon. Len and Rin can count as this depending on the content.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The accompanying adaptations of the songs (especially if they are in a series or Concept Album).
  • Ascended Fanboy: In a way. Popular Nico Nico Douga singer Piko now has his own Vocaloid, Utatane Piko, courtesy of Sony Music, besides being a professional singer himself.
  • Ascended Meme: Teto Kasane, Mikudayo, Takoluka, Akita Neru, and Haku Yowane. Originally, some of them were just minor memes concerning experiences within Vocaloid fandom (Haku being the result of a failed Miku experience, Neru being born from an online argument) or from fake announcements (Teto being an out and out April Fools' Day joke), but they have since become officially recognized by Crypton. However, none of them actually have voices due to the fact that some just never came with them and others just borrowed a pitched up vocal from another Vocaloid.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore:
    • The homepage for the Miku Corolla advertising campaign. It seems like whoever drew her doesn't like certain ideas of cuteness... Toyota changed her appearance later, perhaps bowing to pressure from disappointed fans.
    • Crypton's Piapro website held a contest for an official "American" Hatsune Miku design, and declared a winner (made by Exiled Artist). The contest runners indicated it would be used "in a commercial basis or in projects related to Miku's next concert"; it was eventually used in the March 9, 2012 39's Giving Day concert when she performed PoPiPo.
  • Blank Slate: Most if not all of them, since they aren't given any backstory or much of a personality. Fan works tend to fill in the gap where characterization is involved.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification/Moe Anthropomorphism: One of the main reasons why Vocaloids are so popular.
  • Breakout Character: Miku Hatsune; she was only the seventh Vocaloid ever released, and yet she gained the most popularity among the fandom. These days, you can see a significant amount of fans who know more about Miku than any other Vocaloid, and sometimes learn about the franchise from her.
  • The Cameo: Miku's first anime appearance was one of these in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, as one of the people auditioning to be Meru's voice. Rin, Len, Kaito, and Meiko also appear in the same episode briefly, waiting in line for the auditions, however their coloring is off.
  • Cast Herd: The fanbase tends to categorize Vocaloids by the company they exist as products under, such as Miku, Rin, Len, Luka, Meiko, and Kaito in a "Crypton group", both because it's easier to sort out the Loads and Loads of Characters this way and because it does make a functional difference in their promotions as companies generally don't like to cross-promote with others (hence why only the Crypton Vocaloids ever appear in the Hatsune Miku Project Diva games). Some of these will be split into smaller subsets as well, such as company subseries or by engine type (V2s, V3s, etc.). This is only in terms of listing characters, however; actual songs and other creative media will use whatever characters the producer or creator has access to or feels like using regardless of product origin.
  • Cat Girl:
    • SeeU, the Korean Vocaloid from the V3 series, has cat ears on her headset.
    • Nekomura Iroha. She has a Hello Kitty design, with a big cat helmet and little cat-eared speakers, among other things. Her surname even means "Cat Village".
  • Color-Coded Characters: Many of the earlier Japanese Vocaloids had one dominant, unique color associated with them; with the influx of new Vocaloids, this concept has largely been abandoned.
  • Cover Version: If the song you're thinking of exists, they've probably covered it.
  • Crossover: Thanks to Hajime Katoki, Miku is now also avalaible in Fei-Yen cosplay outfit, and Fei-Yen in a Miku Hatsune Shout-Out version.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Several Vocaloids have this going on; namely Kaito, Miku, Sonika, Miki, Kiyoteru and Ryuto.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: MAIKA lists this as one reason why she'll quit singing.
  • Follow the Leader: The UTAUloids, the MACNE series, the Voiceroids, and the CeVIO Creative Studio due to hardware incompatibility with certain operating systems (as is the case for ALYS), and some general criticisms about certain voices.
  • Genre Roulette: They've toyed with damn near every genre of music known to man, the only genres they HAVEN'T toyed with would be Drone Metal, Stoner Metal, and Funk Metal.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Other than Rin and Len occasionally being played as these (a surprisingly rarer occurence than their appearances would suggest, as most works that do consider them twins don't necessitate that their faces look exactly alike), the song "Not a Dream, Not a Lie, a Happy Scene Before My Eyes" employs this (both twins are portrayed by Miku, but one of them is explicitly referred to as male). The twins in the story are mentioned to look like "peas in a pod" and pull a Twin Switch without anyone noticing. This somehow manages to make more sense than the rest of the song.
  • Idiot Hair: IA, Miki, and Piko all have one. Piko's is especially notable in that it's even shaped like a P to reflect his name.
  • Kayfabe Music: At live concerts, the band is real enough, but the lead "singer" is a projected image (and not really a singer at all).
  • Left-Handed Mirror: Len and Rin Kagamine, opposite-gender mirrors of each other or Half-Identical Twins (depending on who you ask). This trope is most evident in Fanon works involving these two, as their official characterizations are virtually nonexistent.
  • Literal Split Personality: Len and Rin Kagamine, according to one interpretation. When asked whether they were meant to be siblings or lovers, a representative of the company responded with a Shrug of God and described them (metaphorically or literally) as "a single soul split between two bodies".
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There's quite a few already and the number is only growing. And that's not even getting into the fanmades and genderbends. Note that this number increases exponentially. In 2010, the number of Japanese Vocaloids could be counted on both hands, and the number total were still easy to keep track of and to recite without issue. By the time 2012 arrived, the number had almost tripled.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: The PSP version of Project DIVA games are plagued with this, not surprising since most UMD-based PSP games have long loading times. Especially if you have the DLCs installed, as it needs to check the license everytime the list of DLC items are loaded.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Some of the nightmare fuel songs like "The path to eternal happiness I found it" can be misleading.
  • Meaningful Name: Most official and fan characters. For example, the 'Hatsu' of Hatsune (Miku's surname) means first; she was the first Japanese Vocaloid2 character and first of Crypton's "Character Vocal Series". The 'Kagami' part of Kagamine (Rin and Len's surname) means 'mirror'; Crypton once described them as mirror images instead of being twins, although they backtracked on that. The 'Meguri' of Megurine (Luka's surname) means circulating/revolving; a reference to her bilingual capabilities. Furthermore, the 'ne' at the end of Kagamine, Hatsune, and Megurine means 'sound'. Akita Neru means 'I'm tired; going to sleep' and Haku Yowane means 'weak-willed words'. In fact, the name "Akita Neru" was coined because of the troll who created her using the phrase akita, neru ('I give up; going to sleep'), as a reaction of frustration about the difficulty of using the VOCALOID software.
    • Lily's voicebank was sampled from the singer Yuri Masuda. "Yuri" means "lily" in Japanese and similarly, Gakupo, voiced by Gackt (pronounced Gakuto) and Gumi, voiced by Megumi Nakajima. Utatane Piko, voiced by Nico singer Piko.
  • Multinational Team: A group of over 45 vocal banks, all with vocals from across the globe. So far, there are English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, and many more, with some being able to be used on two languages.
  • One Mario Limit: A visual variant. Any other character with big twintails of a similar color will be confused with Miku.
  • Opposites Theme Naming: Rin and Len Kagamine. Their names are a pun on the words "right" and "left", respectively.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Sweet Ann and Oliver, according to their box art. Len and Rin are a subversion, as they are Japanese.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Miku, and to a lesser extent Luka, Galaco, Iroha, Mew, Haku and Neru. Fanartists tend to draw it even longer, to the point of it being longer than the character is tall.
    • With the addition of Vocaloid3 IA and her very long hair, which is comparable to Miku, it goes down to her ankles.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: So human, in fact, that you'll soon forget that they're robots.
    • Especially the V2 Appends and most of the Vocaloid-3's.
    • Except in the cases of Piko and Miki; both have robotic joints and the former has what appears to be an equalizer as part of his left eye. Oh, not to mention the tail-like USB cable.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Between Len and Rin.
    • This is somewhat emphasized in the Append artwork; Rin's outfit is mainly light with some darker elements, while Len's is mainly dark with some lighter elements. And the boxart.
  • Theme Naming: A good number of the Japanese Vocaloids have the character 'ne' (sound) in their surnames, such as Miku, Len and Rin, and Luka.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Rin and Len are puns on "R" (right) and "L" (left). Ultimately played with, as official descriptions state that they're not exactly twins. anon and kanon are a straighter example though.
  • The Voiceless: In Project Diva F, DLC characters Yowane Haku, Akita Neru, and Kasane Teto are not given voices when in the interactive mode. They do sing, however, which is odd. Curiously enough, Haku and Neru, who were adopted as "official" characters by Crypton, do not actually have official voices, which leads to Miku and Rin users downpitching the vocals to give them some semblance of a vocal identity.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Vocaloid2 library Nekomura Iroha, and Vocaloid4 library CYBER DIVA.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Miku is something of an internet sensation, and a lot of people would like her to feature in their own properties, not just as a virtual voice actor but as herself— even a minimal role will do, as long as they get to display her prominently in their advertising. An example of this would be 7th Dragon 2020, where she appears as Hatsune Miku Type-2020.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Kaito, Gakupo, Miku, Luka, Gumi, Sonika, Miki, Iroha and Gachapoid's human form.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Hatsune Miku and, subsequently, many other female (and sometimes male) Vocaloids.