Vocaloids (from the words "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 over 70 vocaloids (Rin and Len count as one product instead of two, as do anon & kanon, ZOLA PROJECT, and the V5 Standard Vocals); and fans have created personalities for each character based on official art (some don't even have official character design) and voice. Fans have also created characters based on official releases, such as Akita Neru and Yowane Haku.
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, Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Rin and Len, and Megurine Luka.
Vocaloid took major steps to becoming Serious Businessnote . Flagship character Hatsune Miku 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.) In the 2010 Miku Party concert, Rin, Len, and Luka made debuts with even better renderings, with Kaito and Meiko joining them in 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.
Miku had yet another overseas concert in Singapore during the Anime Festival Asia 2011 on November 11, 2011. Miku has also opened for Lady Gaga as a part of her ArtRave tour, performing at no less than 16 different venues. Since then, the Crypton characters would go on to perform at venues such as Niconico Cho Party (with the occasional song or two from guest vocals like Gumi or Kasane Teto), annual winter events like the Snow Miku Festival, or international offerings such as the Hatsune Miku Expo. Heck, they even have symphonic concerts done in their name!
Of course, that's not to say that the Crypton Vocaloids were the only ones shining on stage: Vocaloids of all languages, such as Yuzuki Yukari, IA (and her CeVIO sister ONE), Bruno and Clara, SeeU, and even the Chinese Vsingers have gotten concerts to themselves over the years, expanding the reach of the system's lesser known banks bit by bit.
Vocaloid has proven itself a media juggernaut, capable of kickstarting whole multimedia projects. For example, Black★Rock Shooter, Kagerou Project, Confession Executive Committee, and Mikagura School Suite all started as or were popularised through Vocaloid songs and expanded into light novels, manga, anime, and in the case of BRS, her own spinoff video game. Other popular songs also got multimedia adaptations, such as ''Kokoro" and "Cantarella", which both got musicals, and the Evillious Chronicles, best recognized by its flagship song "Daughter of Evil", also got a Screen-to-Stage Adaptation and a manga. "Sakura Rain" even got a live-action movie!
The producers cosMo, Deco 27, Putin-P, Machigerita, mothy, and Ferry have their own pages, as does the band supercell, the music-video-making software MikuMikuDance and SEGA's Licensed Game Hatsune Miku Project DIVA.
Works involving Vocaloids that already have their own wiki pages:
- Black★Rock Shooter
- Confession Executive Committee
- Evillious Chronicles
- Exit Tunes Presents ACTORS
- Kagerou Project
- Mikagura School Suite
- Nandemo Iukoto Wo Kiite Kureru Akane-Chan
- Outburst Dreamer Boys
- Parties Are For Losers
- Shuuen No Shiori Project
- Torture Tower doesn't sleep
Provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion:
- Adaptation Expansion: The accompanying adaptations of the songs, especially if they are in a series or Concept Album. Kagerou Project and the Evillious Chronicles are very good examples of this.
- Ambiguously Human: Invoked. While by default, Vocaloids are portrayed as robots/androids, their tabula rasa nature allows them to be portrayed any number of ways, be it as robots, humans, holograms, anthropomorphic computer programs, etc.
- Ambiguously Related: Len and Rin Kagamine are frequently marketed as a package and have similar gendered designs. They have been called twins and mirror images of each other at different points by Crypton Future Media, who has since retracted both positions and considered their relationship up to fan interpretation.
- Ascended Meme: Kasane Teto, Mikudayo, Takoluka, Neru Akita, and Yowane Haku. 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 (barring Teto) have actual 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.
- Auto-Pilot Tutorial: In the Project Diva series, the original retro-styled music video is a form of this for the mini-game included with the first Downloadable Content pack for the first game, showing some of the mechanics which are not made immediately obvious by the game itself. It even shows Miku near-constantly watering the plant, which is how you unlock the orb that is needed to open the final door.
- Ballet Episode: "Dr. Coppelius", the final collaboration between Hatsune Miku and the great Isao Tomita, complete with a 3D model of Miku in a tutu.
- Blank Slate: Most if not all of them, since they aren't given any backstory or much of a personality. This is to allow music producers complete freedom as to how they choose to utilise Vocaloid in their song. Fan works tend to fill in the gap wherever characterization is involved.
- Some of the Chinese Vocaloids, specifically the VSingers and associates, downplay this trope. Their character bios are more detailed than a regular Vocaloid, and a few short ONA videos had been released featuring them in 2012.
- The Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA series also enlists the Crypton Vocaloids in a story mode and gives them some personality, the closest anyone will get to official characterizations for those six in canon.
- Breakout Character:
- Hatsune Miku; 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.
- Oliver is getting up there in terms of English vocals, nearly reaching Miku's level of fame and being quite possibly the most well-known English Vocaloid. He even got his own voice-acting gig!
- From a professional standpoint, Avanna was the first native English vocal to top a sales chart, as well as the first to get a song to a million views. MAIKA and Luo Tianyi had similar effects as Spanish and Chinese vocals respectively.
- 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. Also, thanks to SEGA partially owning her, Miku shows up in a few of their games.
- Meiko, Kaito, Rin, Len, and Luka show up in crowd shots in Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion. Subverted with Miku, who was a distinctly different character from the Vocaloid. She was a recurring character rather than a cameo anyway.
- 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.
- Vocaloids are a popular target for utaite, or singers who cover existing songs. Some of these singers have gained international popularity through covering Vocaloid music. There are even self-covers from artists such as Reolnote and Toru Inamenote and foreign language covers like Juby Phonic's work.
- Crossover: Thanks to Hajime Katoki, Miku is now also available in Fei-Yen cosplay outfit, and Fei-Yen in a Miku Hatsune Shout-Out version. 2017 also gave her a crossover with Frame Arms Girls as one of the characters. 2017 also had a crossover with Kirakira★PreCure a la Mode, mostly due to Hatsune Miku's voice actress playing one of the main heroines. Maplestory has also had a Vocaloid crossover event, but limited to the Japanese version.
- This one borders on being a crossover of 3 brands- the Sentinel Mechatro WeGo robot toy #35 was themed around Miku and also included a 1" tall Miku figurine based on the Adventure Time art style, designed by Frederator Studios. Adventure Time is not actually referenced in the material at all but the art style of the figure and advertisement is identical.
- Early 2020 saw The Battle Cats getting a crossover event, featuring Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Rin and Len, and Sakura Miku as obtainable units and enemies in certain collaboration stages. Said stages also use Senbonzakura, Teo, and Hibana as background music as well as a remix of the main battle theme.
- Curtains Match the Window: Several Vocaloids have this going on; namely Kaito (blue), Miku, Sonika, Miki, Kiyoteru and Ryuto.
- Fan Convention: They and their producers feature at many of them, but their first and arguably most famous is THE VOC@LOID M@STER.
- Follow the Leader: The UTAUloids, the MACNE series, the Voiceroidsnote , the CeVIO Creative Studio, and the Alter/Ego series 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.
- 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.
- Improbably Female Cast: A quick look at the wiki shows that the total number of female voice banks is over three times the number of male voice banks. note
- Kaleidoscope Hair: According to Sonika's Twitter (which is run by Zero-G), her green hair is able to turn red.
- 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: Kagamine Rin and Len, 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.
- Licensed Game: The Project DIVA series from SEGA casts the Crypton Vocaloids, some of the most popular Vocaloids( Miku, Rin, Len, Luka, MEIKO, and KAITO)note into a popular Rhythm Game franchise. Its sister franchise Project mirai also includes GUMI, and other, non-Crypton Vocaloids also have their own games, such as Megpoid the Music# for GUMI's standalone title, as well as IA/VT COLORFUL for IA.
- Literal Split Personality: Kagamine Rin and Len, 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" note .
- 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.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Some of the nightmare fuel songs like "The Path to Eternal Happiness, I Found It" can be misleading. Comes with its own page.
- 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 Yowane Haku 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.
- Moe Anthropomorphism: One of the main reasons why Vocaloids are so popular.
- Multinational Team: A group of over 70 vocal banks, all with vocals from across the globe. So far, there are English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, with some being able to be used on two languages. note
- One Mario Limit: A visual variant. Any other character with big twintails of a similar color will be confused with Miku. This created problems when Stardust's original design was revealed, with many fans accusing her of stealing Miku's design.
- Opposites Theme Naming: Kagamine Rin and Len. Their names are a pun on the words "right" and "left", respectively.
- Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Whenever a male/female vocal set is made, they're usually set up like this. Leon/Lola, Meiko/Kaito,note VY1/VY2, Bruno/Clara, and Amy/Chris are examples of this.
- 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.
- IA's hair is so long that it goes down to her ankles.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Between Rin and Len. This is somewhat emphasized in their Appends; Rin has "Warm" and "Sweet" banks, while Len has "Cold" and "Serious". The artwork demonstrates it as well; 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.
- To the Tune of...: The Music X Study Project, which takes twenty popular Vocaloid songs and injects them with a constant flow of education, using self-covers from the songs' original artists to teach middle-to-high school students about subjects from Japanese history to chemistry. Behold, Rerulili's "Joumon Explosion Girl", a version of the popular "Brain Fluid Explosion Girl" with all of the lyrics replaced with historically-accurate references to the Jomon period of prehistoric Japan.
- Vocal Dissonance:
- Nekomura Iroha has a surprisingly deep and mature voice, which constrasts greatly with her cutesy Hello Kitty design.
- CYBER DIVA surprised many by how nasal her voice is.
- Flower is a bit of an odd case - while she has always been androgynous-sounding, her original V3 design is decidedly rather feminine. With the release of her V4 update, she received a more boyish design that has since become more popular with fans.
- 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. SEGA is particularly guilty of this; 7th Dragon 2020 featured a Hatsune Miku Type-2020 and had her do the theme song, Super Robot Wars UX basically turned Fei-Yen into Hatsune Miku and made her voiced by Saki Fujita, Yakuza 5 included a Miku outfit and a statue of her, Phantasy Star Online 2 held a Miku/Luka concert and featured Miku outfits and Mikudayo... the list goes on and on.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Kaito, Gakupo, Miku, Luka, Gumi, Sonika, Miki, Iroha, Gachapoid's human form, and the list goes on.
- Songs that portray the Vocaloid singing it as such aren't uncommon.
- MAYU is officially characterised as a yandere.
- Zettai Ryouiki: Hatsune Miku and, subsequently many other female Vocaloids. So much that the Vocaloid China character design contest explicitly marked off any designs that were Miku-like.