Hatsune Miku is a world-famous virtual idol that has been around since 2007. She has sold out live concerts worldwide, starred in several video games and manga, made special appearances in anime, made televised appearances — including a special guest appearance on Larry King Live — and even opened for Lady Gaga.
In February 2021, it was announced that Miku would finally star in her own anime. However, it’s now been over a year and there are no updates on the series — or if it’s even still in the works. This makes one wonder why it’s taken so long for Hatsune Miku to get her own anime, especially given how popular she is worldwide.
Who Is Hatsune Miku?
Hatsune Miku is a vocal synthesizer known as a VOCALOID that was developed by Crypton Future Media. Contrary to popular belief, Miku is not the first VOCALOID to exist, although she is undoubtedly the most popular. Her voice bank was provided by Saki Fujita, a voice actress best known for her roles as Mahiru from Working!! and Ritsu from Assassination Classroom.
Miku was originally designed by the illustrator KEI, who would go on to design fellow virtual singers Rin and Len Kagamine, Luka Megurine, and LILY. Miku is sixteen years old, 158 cm tall (5’2″), has long hair tied in twin tails, and weighs 42 kg (93 lbs). She has no other canon traits outside of her physical appearance in order to encourage creators to characterize her as they see fit in their music.
Hatsune Miku Is a Blank Slate
Hatsune Miku has no canon personality, largely because she’s meant to be a blank canvas for creators to use. How her persona is interpreted varies wildly from person to person, as seen in the way she’s represented in different music videos and songs. Miku can be cute, stoic, energetic, temperamental, eccentric or even crazy — there are no limits to how she can be presented.
This is why Crypton has been very good about never giving her a canon personality in official media. The closest they’ve ever gotten was in the story mode for Project Diva X and even then, there’s a note that says that her personality in the game should not be considered canon. The insistence on letting creators decide how Miku should be presented is exemplified in the mobile game Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage, where her personality is defined by the worlds that are formed from the hearts of different groups and individual people. This allows for different iterations of Miku to exist, all with wildly different personalities based on the worlds they inhabit and how the owners of those worlds perceive them.
Why Making An Anime About Miku Is So Hard
The biggest obstacle to making an anime would be figuring out not just Miku’s personality, but the other VOCALOIDs created by Crypton as well, as none of them have canon personalities. Like with Miku, this was done to give content creators the freedom to characterize the VOCALOIDs as they see fit. In fact, many of the more popularized interpretations of the VOCALOIDs’ personalities — such as Miku being obsessed with leeks or Meiko being an alcoholic — were all derived from popular fandom interpretations, further solidifying how fan-driven VOCALOID content is.
Giving Miku and her friends canon personalities would have taken away some of that sense of creative freedom. Other media such as manga and novels can get away with this because there are so many of them that already exist. So as with the many existing songs, they can all just be seen as different interpretations of Miku. It also helps that they’re all based on popular songs and are often penned by the original producers. Even the manga illustrated by KEI, Miku’s original character designer, is officially titled an “unofficial manga”, likely to avoid giving fans the idea that the Miku depicted in it is an official interpretation of her character.
A Hatsune Miku anime, however, would be the only one of its kind and would be the most accessible to old and new fans alike — especially since many VOCALOID-inspired manga and novels have yet to be officially released in English. There’s also the question of what the show would even be about. Most of the existing manga and novels are based on popular songs, but it would have been difficult for just one to be chosen for an anime adaptation. The best way to avoid giving Miku a definitive canon personality would be to make an anthology-style anime, which seemed to have been what the planned series announced last year could have been aiming for, which will be expanded on later on.
It’s telling that all of the already-existing anime that were based on VOCALOID songs and music series are those that star original characters rather than any of the existing VOCALOID creations. There’s also the ever-pesky issues of getting copyright approval from the different VOCALOIDs’ associated companies, as not all of them were produced by Crypton. This is why other popular VOCALOID like GUMI or IA have not made appearances in the Project Diva games, although Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage at least includes some songs that use the voice banks of non-Crypton VOCALOIDs.
What Is The Planned Hatsune Miku Anime About?
The intended Hatsune Miku anime would be a mixed media project featuring live-action parts, music and animation. The project is meant to introduce the “Mikuverse”, implying that it would debut different Mikus based on her appearances in different songs and other media. It would likely involve several popular VOCALOID producers, while a series of tie-in comics was also planned.
The decision to focus on a multiverse setting instead of a single one reiterates how important it is to not constrain Miku to a single set personality. This allows producers to continue to characterize her as they best see fit and could even give a spotlight to the best songs and worlds produced by some of the best content creators within the VOCALOID fandom. But given the radio silence since the first announcement of the television series, it’s hard to tell whether the project will still push through.
Hatsune Miku’s voice bank was first released 15 years ago, and her popularity endures today. She still sells out concerts, she still cameos in other anime, she still has thousands of figures and merchandise made in her image, and her voice is still being used to create thousands of songs to this day. Regardless of whether Miku ever gets to star in her own anime, it’s clear that she will always be a pop culture icon.