In January 2007, Yamaha announced a new version of the software engine, Vocaloid2, with various major improvements in usability and synthesis quality. Zero-G and others have announced plans to release products powered by the new software engine in 2007. PowerFX have released the first English package that is powered by Vocaloid2 named Sweet Ann. Crypton has followed and announced a series of character Vocaloid2 packages to be released, the first being Hatsune Miku. The second package Kagamine Rin/Len was released on December 27 2007 and the updated edition "act2" was released in July 2008. A third package will be released in late 2008. Prima was introduced at NAMM Show 2008; she was released on January 14 2008 in the UK and February 22 2008 in Japan.
The series is intended for professional musicians as well as light computer music users. The programmed vocals are designed to sound like an idol singer from the future. According to Crypton, because professional singers refused to provide singing data, in fear that the software might create their singing voice's clones, Crypton changed their focus from imitating certain singers to creating characteristic vocals. This change of focus led to sampling vocals of voice actors.
Each Japanese Vocaloid is given an anime-type character with specifications on age, height, weight, and musical forte (as in the type of music, range and tempo). The characters of the first two installments of the series are created by illustrator Kei.
Any rights or obligations arising from the vocals created by the software belong to the software user. Just like any music synthesizer, the software is treated as a musical instrument and the vocals as sound. Under the term of license, the Character Vocal Series software can be used to create vocals for commercial or non commercial use, as long as the vocals do not offend public policy. In other words, the user is bound under the term of license with Crypton not to synthesize derogatory or disturbing lyrics. On the other hand, copyrights to the mascot image and name belong to Crypton. Under the term of license, a user cannot commercially distribute a vocal as a song sung by the character, nor use the mascot image on commercial products, without Crypton's consent.
Nico Nico Douga played a fundamental role in the recognition and popularity of the software. Soon after the release of the software, users of Nico Nico Douga started posting videos with songs created by the software. According to Crypton, a popular video with a comically-altered Miku holding a leek, singing Ievan Polkka, presented multifarious possibilities of applying the software in multimedia content creation. As the recognition and popularity of the software grew, Nico Nico Douga became a place for collaborate content creation. Popular original songs written by a user would generate illustrations, animation in 2D and 3D, and remixes by other users. Other creators would show their unfinished work and ask for ideas.
On October 18 2007, an Internet BBS website reported Hatsune Miku was suspected to be victim of censorship by Google and Yahoo!, since images of Miku did not show up on the image searches. Google and Yahoo denied any censorship on their part, blaming the missing images on a bug that does not only affect "Hatsune Miku" but other search keywords as well. Both companies expressed a willingness to fix the problem as soon as possible. Images of Miku were relisted on Yahoo on October 19.
A Hatsune Miku manga called Maker Hikōshiki Hatsune Mix began serialization in the Japanese manga magazine Comic Rush on November 26 2007, published by Jive. The manga is drawn by Kei, the original character designer for Hatsune Miku. A second manga called Hachune Miku no Nichijō Roipara! drawn by Ontama began serialization in the manga magazine Comp Ace on December 26 2007, published by Kadokawa Shoten.
Her first appearance in an anime is in (Zoku) Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei, where she (and various other people and characters) try out to be the voice of Meru Otonashi. For online multi-player games, the Japanese version of PangYa started a campaign with Hatsune Miku on May 22 2008 in which she is included as one of the characters.. Her first appearance in a video game is in for the Nintendo DS where she is included as one of the characters. Hatsune Miku will be given a PlayStation Portable game called Hatsune Miku: Project Diva to be released in 2009 by Sega. Hatsune Miku made a cameo appearance in the Lucky Star OVA in the form of Kagami's cosplay in her dream.
Hatsune Miku's color scheme and image was used by a BMW Z4 from Studie (a tuning shop for BMW), which participated in the GT300 class of the 2008 Super GT season. The car was named "Hatsune Miku Studie Glad BMW Z4" and had its debut in round six in the Suzuka Circuit. Hatsune Miku received the 2008 Seiun Award in the free category.
On August 27 2008, Victor Entertainment released the album Re:package which contains a collection of songs performed by Hatsune Miku and composed by dōjin artist Livetune. The album sold over 20,000 copies in its first week and successfully broke into Oricon's charts by placing fifth for the week.
On June 12 2008, Crypton announced the updated edition, named "act2", will be released in early July 2008. Users who had bought the old version will get an expansion disc free of charge. On June 18 2008, beta demonstration songs using the new version were released on the company's official blog. The expansion disc is an entirely different software and does not affect the original Kagamine Rin/Len installation in any way, giving the user options to either use the old or new voice sets exclusively or combine their usage.
There has been much conflict between the issue of whether Len and Rin are siblings. It was announced that Kagamine Len and Rin are not siblings, the creators themselves had stated. They made it this way so that people are free interpret their relationship. The majority have seen videos and other types of media, which apparently made a big impact on the perspective that the Vocaloids, Len and Rin, are related.
The product was originally intended to be released in June 2008, but although Gackt existed as a model for the Vocaloid, it lacked an illustrated avatar to match the previous Vocaloids. Popular manga author Kentarō Miura, famous for his dark fantasy epic Berserk, was approached. Due to Miura's affection for Nico Nico Douga, he agreed to offer his services as character designer for free. As a fan of Berserk, Gackt was more than happy with this arrangement, and requested Miura's sketches be faxed to him as well as the developers, even though he was on location for the filming of Guy Moshe's Bunraku. Gackpoid was released on July 31 2008.
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