Anime Update: 6/14/2011 – Hatsune Miku blasts into America!

Viz Media announced last week that they’ve acquired the North American licensing rights for Hatsune Miku, the digital Volcaloid pop star icon who is set to take the world by storm.

“Hatsune Miku is the most popular of the Vocaloid Character Series software created by Crypton. Using their innovative software, users can create synthesized vocals using Hatsune Miku’s vocals just by typing in lyrics or a melody! In Japan, she has become a national phenomenon, appearing not only in video games, music videos, and on a plethora of accessories and goods, but in several sellout “live concerts”, appearing onstage as a 3D hologram, backed by a live band!”

Seriously folks, this is big news. During my most recent trip to Akihabara (last October) the stores were absolutely flooded with character goods, costumes and a ton of other stuff dedicated to Miku. She’s become a huge pop culture icon in Asia and is gaining tons of popularity around the world.

See Hatsune Miku here in action at one of her digital concerts in Japan:

I saw some of this digital projection technology in person at the MTV Video Music Awards Japan – 2006, where the group Def Tech first appeared as a super realistic hologram and then revealed themselves via explosion from backstage. It was really impressive and I can only imagine that the technology has come a long way since I last saw it in action.

Also, I can’t help but be reminded of the digital pop star (Sharon Apple) in the anime Macross Plus but she required a human to function. (While her producers told everyone that she had an artificial intelligence that included emotions, it was later revealed that this programming was incomplete and her emotions were “provided” by Myung Fang Lone.) Hatsune Miku, on the other hand is 100% computer program engineered by technical geniuses who met on the internet. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

U.S. Anime conventions have of course already seen a huge influx of Volcaloid related cosplay and goods, but what’s even more amazing is that Hatsune Miku has just starred in an American Toyota commercial – something that honestly blows my mind:

That’s all for anime update this week. I leave you with one more video of digital pop sensation Hatsune Miku: (Select CC button for English Subtitles):