Hatsune Miku is a character who has become an icon within Japanese culture and anime, with most seeing her design and assuming she is the protagonist of some sort of large-scale anime series.
Whilst Miku does make an appearance in an anime called Shinkansen Henjei Robo Shinkalio, this is far from where she originated as she did not get her start as an anime character. Let’s take a look at Hatsune Miku’s origins and her various roles in different media projects.
Who Is Hatsune Miku?
Hatsune Miku did not start out as a character, per se. She was designed around the concept of Vocaloid, which originated in Japan. But what is Vocaloid, and how does this link to Miku?
Vocaloid is a voice synthesizer software that replicates singing by utilizing various voicebanks- recorded vocals of singers or voice actors- and combining them with synthesizing technology.
Hatsune Miku is the persona that was created and designed by Crypton Future Media- a Japanese media company- to match up with a particular Vocaloid software voicebank.
She was created for marketing purposes, with the intent to promote Vocaloid technology in the same way that a real-life idol would promote their company and their music.
Therefore, Miku is technically a piece of software rather than an anime character! However, Miku’s design- with her turquoise twin pigtails, large eyes, and schoolgirl outfit- makes it clear that she was inspired by the popular form of Japanese animation.
This is emphasized even more so by the artistic creator of Miku: manga artist Kei Garo. Garo was given the direction that Miku was an android with a turquoise, gray, black, and white color palette.
With that information alone, he went about creating her character. It is no surprise that she takes on the look of an anime character with ease since she was created by a professional manga artist.
The Music Of Hatsune Miku
Miku’s anime like design is part of what has made her such a global phenomenon, but she is also considered a musical artist in her own right with over thousands upon thousands of songs to her name. She has also performed with a wide range of respected artists, such as Lady Gaga, Bump of Chicken, Pharrell, and Anamanaguchi.
She was even due to perform at Coachella in 2020 before the event had to be canceled. The catchy nature of Vocaloid music combined with the cute, anime girl design has made Miku- who only came into existence to be the physical form of her Vocaloid software- a global phenomenon.
Before we get into her main anime role, let’s talk about some of the other media ventures that Hatsune Miku has embarked on. The character is the protagonist of a manga series called Maker Hikoshiki Hatsune Mix.
The manga is unofficial and not canon, but it tells various fun stories with her and demonstrates the potential that she has as a standalone character as well as a Vocaloid sensation. She also has her own rhythm game franchise known as the Hatsune Miku Project DIVA series.
Not only that, but she had her own Nintendo 3DS game called Hatsune Miku and Future Stars: Project Mirai.
he has been referenced or mentioned in various other video games too, such as Yakuza 5, Super Robot Wars UX, The Idolm@ster 2, Recettear, and Phantasy Star Online 2 just to name a few. She also has countless lines of merchandise and figurines to her name.
What Anime Has Hatsune Miku Starred In?
Despite looking like she was taken directly from an anime, Hatsune Miku has only had one substantial role in an anime series. Hatsune was a supporting character in the 2018-2019 anime series Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion, a science fiction anime about mechas called Shinkalions and their drivers.
Her appearance was introduced as an homage to the Vocaloid brand. She first appeared in the fifteenth episode and is a little younger than her original Vocaloid design, which is around 16 whilst her anime age is 11.
This younger age is to commemorate the date of her release by Crypton Future Media- August 31st, 2007- which would have made her 11 when the series ran in 2018 and 2019.
In the anime, Miku is an intelligent and athletic girl who enjoys studying and engaging in the martial art of Kendo- a form of sword fighting. Hatsune is also a fan of visiting museums, particularly the Hakodate City Seikan Ferry Memorial Museum Mashumaru.
She is a good friend to Hayato Hayasugi, a recurring character from the series. Miku is the only female driver in the series- taking the helm of the Shinkalion H5 Hayabusa mech- and she has excellent promise in driving mechs, but her abilities are somewhat hindered by her motion sickness, which makes her lose self-confidence in her abilities.
Hatsune appeared in the movie of the show as well as the series, though much like her original nature, she has made the transition to a singer in the film. She is also voiced by the actress who plays her across all media- Saki Fujita- with a robotic voice filter that makes her sound exactly like her Vocaloid software.
Despite only being a supporting character, Hatsune ranked first place in the Shinkalion Anime Character Popularity Poll, further emphasizing her popularity as a character in her own right as well as when she is marketed for being a Vocaloid program.
Smaller Anime Appearances
As well as this, Hatsune Miku has had some appearances and references made about her in various other animes. She was seen auditioning for a voice-over role in an episode of the anime Zoku Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei.
Some other anime shows she has had small cameos in include Baka and Test, Chrome Shelled Regios, Himoto! Umaru-Chan and more.
Her singing voice- the most defining aspect of her character due to her origins- has also been used in different animes, such as the ending theme for the show Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories.
Hatsune Miku is an incredibly versatile character who has gone far and beyond what her original purpose was, that being a marketing tool and the physical embodiment of a Vocaloid software program.
She has become a beloved character in popular culture of various kinds, making appearances in manga, anime, video games and collaborating with a wide range of artists worldwide to create music.
Her aged down role as a mech driver in Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion was her largest and most significant anime role, but it is far from the only role she has had and is unlikely to be the last!