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Music / Vocaloid

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The singing synthesizer technology.note 

Vocaloid (portmanteau of "vocal" and "android"; stylized as VOCALOID) is a singing voice synthesizing software created by university researcher Kenmochi Hideki and the Yamaha Corporation. Originally a relatively obscure software released in 2004, Vocaloid's development of its voice banks into characters caused the software to explode in popularity on Nico Nico Douga, creating an entire scene of voice synthesizer music that has since expanded beyond Vocaloid itself.

Functionally, Vocaloid works like a combination of Synthetic Voice Actor and Auto-Tune. By loading a Vocaloid voice banknote  into Vocaloid, typing in its lyrics, and tuning the generated vocals melodically, a user can easily produce a fully synthesized singing voice for use in their songs.

Spearheaded by voice bank developer Crypton Future Media's Character Vocal Series, which introduced Hatsune Miku, most of Vocaloid's voice banks (nicknamed Vocaloids) became marketed as individual characters with distinctive (and usually usually anime-styled) character designs. Thanks to a relatively loose fan work policy, these characters were able to be included into Vocaloid songs and fan works, allowing them to gather massive followings in Japan; flagship Vocaloid Hatsune Miku in particular became an outright Virtual Celebrity, regularly being rendered into 3D and projected on stages for live concert "performances".

Vocaloids are predominantly Japanese-speaking, but there are also many English, Chinese, and Korean Vocaloids. There are currently five generations of the Vocaloid software with over 70 Vocaloids across the generations.

The latest version of Vocaloid is VOCALOID6. VOCALOID6 utilizes AI technology and was released on October 13, 2022. With it, 5 voicebanks were released: 4 "standard" voicebanks HARUKA, AKITO, ALLEN, and SARAH, along with AI Megpoid, which acts as an updated AI voicebank for GUMI. The software is backward compatible with voicebanks as far back as VOCALOID3.

Vocaloid also has a text-to-speech-only sister program called VOICEROID, and features both voice banks ported from Vocaloid and its own original voice banks.note 

Vocaloid music, the majority being independently produced and released on the internet, have found a respectable amount of internet but also mainstream success in Japan, with some producers' Vocaloid music albums climbing reasonably high in the Japanese music charts. A number of Vocaloid songs have also managed to evolve into their own multimedia franchises, with examples including Black★Rock Shooter, Kagerou Project, Confession Executive Committee, and Mikagura School Suite. Even Chinese Vocaloids have managed to secure their own little space in China, and have had their own concerts.

The Vocaloid subculture is known for its close relationship with the utaite subculture, who are vocalists that produce cover songs of anime, video games, and Vocaloid songs on the internet. The independent nature of Vocaloid songs made them readily available for cover songs, while their non-human vocals created interest in Vocaloid songs with human vocals. Many Vocaloid producers are in fact also utaite themselves.

See also UTAU, CeVIO AI, and Synth V, other singing voice synthesizing programs, MikuMikuDance, a 3D animation software originally developed for Vocaloid MVs, Hatsune Mix, an unofficial Vocaloid manga by official Vocaloid character designer KEI, and Sega's Licensed Game series Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA and Project SEKAI.

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

    Vocaloid producers with their own pages 

    Other Music Makers who have used Vocaloid 
  • Mike Oldfield (in Light + Shade, itself the first Vocaloid album by a non-Japanese artist)
  • Porter Robinson (in "Sad Machine" and "Goodbye to a World")

    Vocaloid works with their own pages 

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.
  • Animated Actors: In some songs the Vocaloids will often be described as "playing" certain characters, rather than being the actual character. The most famous example of this is in the Evilious Chronicles, which is also used to explain why some of the characters look exactly the same as the others—the Vocaloids are simply playing more than one role.
  • And the Rest: Of the Cryptonloids whenever there's a Mikucentric event that the other Vocaloids also appear in, they'll usually say "Miku and her friends" rather than listing them all out by name.
  • Artifact Title: Ironically, despite being the most popular characters to come out of Vocaloid, the actual Crypton Future Media characters stopped using the software after Crypton started using their own in-house engine instead of Yamaha's Vocaloid engine in 2020. Many other companies' synthesizers also stopped working under the moniker.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • Mikudayo, Takoluka, Akita Neru, Yowane Haku, Hachune Miku, and Sakine Meiko are fanmade Vocaloids (really just normal Vocaloid voice banks used in a distinct or abnormal way) with official recognition from Crypton. Some of them were originally 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).
    • Kasane Teto also started out as an unofficial April Fools prank, but she's still depicted alongside the Crypton gang despite going on to be a singer for a different engine.
  • 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, which was the closest thing the fans had gotten to official characterization until Project SEKAI came along. That said, Word of God has gone on to confirm that the Vocaloids personalities in this game shouldn't be treated as official. As well, the Virtual Singers' personalities change depending on which "SEKAI" they appear in, further downplaying this trope.
  • Brand Name Takeover: For many people, every vocal synthesizer is Vocaloid especially in Japan, even though the name "Vocaloid" specifically is a brand owned by Yamaha. Other engines such as UTAU and V Singer also often lumped together with Vocaloid.
  • 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. As well, while most Vocaloids have faded from the spotlight in The New '10s due to the shifting Vocaloid climate, she has been one of the few who has persisted throughout the years and retained her popularity as a voicebank among producers.
    • Kagamine Len and Rin are among the most popular and most used Vocaloids to be released. This is exemplified in them usually being heavily advertised alongside Miku when it comes to marketing the Cryptons, such as having the most songs in Magical Mirai after her.
    • For a time, Megurine Luka, Gumi Megpoid, and IA were this, with Luka and Gumi specifically having been described as being able to shake up Miku's status as the face of Vocaloid. While their popularity has begun to fade with time due to the changing Vocaloid climate in The New '10s, they still have some of the biggest, most well-known songs in all of the fandom.
    • Despite seeing little success with his original software, KAITO was eventually given a second chance after Miku's release and became the second most popular male Vocaloid after Kagamine Len.
    • Oliver is getting up there in terms of English vocals, 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. In some circles, Luo Tianyl is considered the Chinese version of Miku (discounting her actual Chinese version) because of her impact there.
  • 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.
    • Miku has a fully voiced cameo in episode 1 of Dropkick on My Devil, where she gets robbed of her spring onion by the titular character. She doesn't mind because Jashin-chan gives her 100 yen in exchange, and she only paid 90 yen for it originally. Unlike the aforementioned cameos, the other Virtual Singers are not present here. She made another cameo in episode 2 of the series, where she used her leek to poke Jashin-chan's half-sliced corpse, hoping for Jashin's response. She made another cameo in episode 3 of the series, where she was handcuffed and arrested by Pekola under the assumption of a stolen leek. She has since become part of the regular cast all the way to the series' finale.
  • 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 many 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.
  • 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★Pretty Cure 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.
    • The Crypton Vocaloids (primarily Hatsune Miku), have appeared in collaborations with many games, perhaps too many to list. But to name a few notable ones, Last Period, Valkyrie Connect, and BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!.
    • There has also been official crossover between Vocaloid companies, as Miku has official collaborative songs through Digital Stars with Gumi despite being the two being from Crypton Future Media and Internet Co. respectively.
  • 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 many of them, but their first and arguably most famous is THE VOC@LOID M@STER.
  • invokedFollow the Leader: Many synthesizers, such as UTAU, the MACNE series, Voiceroid,note  CeVIO Creative Studio, Alter/Ego, SynthesizerV, DeepVocal, and NEUTRINO were developed in Vocaloid's wake 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 voicebanks is over three times the number of male voicebanks. note 
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Crypton insists on the Japanese naming order (family name first) being the proper way to write their characters' names, even in English. This invariably stuck with fans; you will almost never come across anyone in the know voluntarily saying "Miku Hatsune".
    • After Crypton swapped to their NT software, they accordingly rebranded all of their characters as "Virtual Singers", with the term and logo appearing prominently in Project SEKAI. They also accept the name "Piapro Studio characters". That said, fans tend to refer to them as "Vocaloids" anyway, even in the context of Project SEKAI.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 .
  • Lyrical Dissonance: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, and Korean, with some being able to be used in two languages (Usually Japanese and English, or Chinese and Japanese). note  Miku is notable for being able to sing in Japanese, Chinese and English with her V4 release.
  • One-Mario Limit: A visual variant. Any other character with big twin tails of 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. This also applies to Vocaloids introduced wearing outfits styled after school uniforms, as that's the default style for Miku and the Kagamines.
  • Opposites Theme Naming: Kagamine Rin and Len. Their names are a pun on the words "right" and "left", respectively.
  • Out of Focus: While they are still among the most popular mascots to come out of Vocaloid, Crypton tends to treat MEIKO and KAITO like outliers in the Crypton Virtual Singer group despite the two predating the Character Vocal Series. Or perhaps because of they do. At times they'll be completely left out of collaborations and merchandise campaigns, and if they are present, their roles will be smaller, they'll be further in the background while the Character Vocal Series is in the foreground, and they'll often have less official merch. This was much more prominent in the early years, particularly around the first few years of Luka's release, and while it has eased up over time due to frequent complaints from fans, it has not completely gone away.
  • 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. Hime/Mikoto is more of a downplayed example, as they're both of ambiguous gender with the pink Hime having girly vocals and the blue Mikoto having boyish vocals.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Sweet Ann and Oliver, according to their box art. Len and Rin are a subversion, as they are Japanese.
  • 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.
  • Virtual Celebrity: Quite a few of the more popular Vocaloids have gone on to become this, though not all voicebanks that are popular as voicebanks become this. The most prominent examples of this trope are the Crypton Vocaloids, who are all to varying degrees widely recognizable as characters both in and out of the Vocaloid community to the point of holding yearly concerts in which they all participate. Gumi is also this to a lesser degree. In China, Luo Tianyi has become one after her rise to prominence in the country.
  • Visual Kei: VanaN'ice, the fictional band created by SCL project and comprised of Kagamine Len, KAITO, and Camui Gackpo, is themed after this. As well, their songs tend to fit into this genre.
  • 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 down pitching the vocals to give them some semblance of 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 contrasts 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.
  • Yandere: MAYU is officially characterised as a yandere.


Video Example(s):


Gigantic O.T.N.

Alright, let's have a look at these lyrics, and--W-W-W-WHAT?!

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