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 43 vocaloids (Rin and Len count as one product instead of two); 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 his 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 has recently taken major steps to becoming Serious Businessnote On the Internet, anyway. Even with it having some recent extensions into the real world, Vocaloid is still a niche thing, even to Japanese who identify as Otaku, with several of them not even knowing there are more Vocaloids than Miku Hatsune. 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 spring 2012.)Toyota also began an ad campaign for their 2011-model Corolla, starringMiku 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. Recently, "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.The producers cosMo, Deco27, and mothy have their own pages, as does the band supercell and the music-video-making software Miku Miku Dance.Note: The following is only for tropes related to official Vocaloid material. For tropes on songs, fanon, and other fan works, go here.
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). Word Of God indicates it will 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.
Cash Cow Franchise: A huge hit in Japan and overseas, to the extent that there are musicals and even concerts of them!
Cat Girl: SeeU, the new Korean Vocaloid from the V3 series, has cat ears on her headset.
Iroha Nekomura. 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 (Meiko, Kaito, Miku, Rin/Len, Luka, Gakupo, Gumi); with the influx of new Vocaloids, this concept has largely been abandoned.
Defictionalization: Gakupo was based of voice samples from Gackt. Then Nico Nico held a vocaloid contest hosted by Gackt where they asked him to sing the winning songs Episode.0 and Paranoid doll. The result was Gackt not only created and released a remix of the song Episode.0. But he also created a video that was identical to the original Episode.0 pv but with the pictures of Gakupo replaced with pictures of Gackt dressed as Gakupo. Here is the original pv of Episode 0. And here's the Gackt version featuring Gackt dressed as Gakupo Episode 0 Gackt version
Detached Sleeves: All of the V2 Cryptonloids have these, the same with most if not all their derivatives.
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.
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.
Meaningful Name: Most official and fan characters. 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.
No Export for You: Many of the non-English Vocaloids are rather difficult to get if you don't live in Japan, and shipping can get to ridiculous prices. Yamaha attempted to avert this with some Vocaloid3 banks such as VY1V3, Mew, Aoki Lapis, Tone Rion, and the V3 Gumi banks available as downloads, Voctro-Labs ships Bruno and Clara internationally, and SBS put up SeeU on eBay (albeit at a considerably higher price), but some, like Yuzuki Yukari, are still rather difficult to get overseas.
In addition: Do you want to buy an album by your favorite composer, or a compilation album? Unless it's registered on KarenT, you will probably never be able to get it, because they're usually sold at Comiket or VocaMas - and even if they're sold online too, they're usually on Japanese-only sites.
And then there's the licensed games, notably the Hatsune Miku Project Diva series, which were Japan exclusives until Project Diva f, which at least was made available in the Southeast Asia region, but that's it so far (and it's still in Japanese). There are hopes however for the latter to see international release, seeing as how an American promotional video for the PS Vita shown in Gamestops shows gameplay footage of that game.
Sega recently posted on their Official Facebookpage the possibility of a western release of Project Diva F for the PS3 if they get enough likes and shares (a stunt similar to what Crypton did for Miku's English voicebank).
Actually, Yamaha recently updated en.vocaloidstore.com (where they sell Vocaloids), and they now sell packaged versions of SeeU, Tone Rion, MEW, Aoki Lapis, and other Vocaloids to North America and Europe!
One Mario Limit: A visual variant. Any other character with big twintails of a similar color will be confused with Miku.
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.
Wham Line: In scissorsloid, Luka wakes up after Miku goes into her charging room and tries to cut the cables. She proceeds to tell Miku how much she loves her and how much she admires her, and it's quite a beautiful moment. However, after Miku is distracted by Luka's kind words, Luka says, "Just kidding", just before taking a knife and stabbing Miku with it. Those who are familiar with videos like this knew that it was too good to be true, but for those unused to videos of this type, it really was a Wham Line.
The end of The Tailor Shop at Enbizaka. When Luka's 'lover' asks her who she is
Love Disease starts off as a jazzy love song, and then...Luka admits that she's never met the guy she's singing to. Then thingsget worse.
"A Clingy Boy Sticking for 15 Years" would normally be about a boy who has a ridiculously obsessive crush on a girl so that he writes love poems with no reply for 15 years, so passionate that he gets wrapped up in various incidents like his house burning down (and somehow only managing to singe off all his clothes in the process), becoming a semi-literary celebrity, and getting amnesia. And then we find out the truth: "I remembered everything and burst into tears / Because I remembered... / that you died fifteen years ago."