Crypton Future Media CEO Hiroyuki Itoh visited Singapore to attend Manga FESTIVAL in Singapore held on February 15-17, 2013. He gave a short presentation and held an autograph session at a stage setup inside a Kinokuniya book store. Enthusiastic fans brought their own goods to get signed, and Kinokuniya also set up special sections in the store holding their VOCALOID-related stock. In addition to his appearance, various VOCALOID artwork was also shown as part of the festival’s exhibition, featuring artwork from Suzunosuke, putidevil, KEI, Chiho and Y-Oji.
Manga FESTIVAL in Singapore was an industry-oriented gathering of various Japanese publishers co-organized by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). METI is also responsible for a series of projects promoting “Cool Japan”, of which the VOCALOID Trans-Pacific Project also happens to be one such example. This festival was held over three days, with lectures given by and exchanges between Singaporean companies and Japanese companies on the first day, February 15.
Talk and Autograph
A set of talk events and autograph sessions was held on the second day. A small stage was setup in a section inside the main Kinokuniya book store, and one by one talks and autograph sessions were held. In addition to famous manga authors like Sergeant Frog‘s Yoshizaki Mine, Crypton Future Media’s CEO Hiroyuki Itoh was also present to give a short talk on the Hatsune Miku phenomenon, with Danny Choo acting as the moderator. News of this event reached many fans on the island, and many eager fans were already gathered a few hours before the talk was set to begin, wondering where the autograph line would start.
As the autograph session immediately preceding Itoh’s talk progressed, foot traffic started getting jammed up around the stage. The store personnel informed everyone that two separate lines would form — one for Danny Choo and one for Itoh, and the security personnel tried very hard to keep pathways open for shoppers to walk by. Eventually, the event staff reorganized everyone into a single line and handed out autograph tickets. There was a limit of 200 tickets and they were soon all handed out. The line was quite long and snaked quite a long way from the stage, and thus eventually the line was dispersed, to be recreated after the talk show ended. With everyone back in front of the stage, Itoh’s presentation was ready to begin.
In front of a large crowd with many attempting to take pictures of the presentation, Itoh started his presentation with two large screens on either side showing his slides. Unfortunately, his Powerpoint on Mac was glitching and refused to play the slides correctly, skipping instantly several slides in advance. Danny Choo bought some time and even invited an audience member to walk up and perform an impromptu cover of a VOCALOID song chosen by the rest of the audience. Thus, while the singer serenaded everyone with Rolling Girl, Itoh and helpers frantically tried to get the presentation slides to work. Eventually, they settled on showing the slides in the editor instead of presentation mode.
The presentation was a very basic introduction to Hatsune Miku, VOCALOID and examples of fan participation that form the Hatsune Miku phenomenon. Projects highlighted included MikuMikuDance and attempts at reproducing “Ano Gakki”, the instrument featured in the promotional video for Innocence. Itoh also showcased Toyota’s collaboration with Miku, playing the initial commercial where Miku arrives at an event in a Toyota Corolla, and segueing into shots of the actual concert held in Los Angeles. After the presentation, the autograph line reconstituted itself, with also a very lengthy standby line for those without tickets.
Kinokuniya made many Miku-related items available for sale, including art books, CDs and post cards. However, people were also welcome to bring their own items to get signed. One person came from Malaysia and brought a copy of the original software to get signed, and someone brought a copy of Miku Append as well. One fan even brought in a Jumbo Miku Nendoroid, still in its box, to get signed. After the autograph session, Danny, Itoh and Fukuoka, along with several hardcore fans gathered together for some dinner upstairs in the food court.
In addition to the lectures and autograph sessions, the festival also held an exhibition during the second and third day in a section of the Arts House, located several stops down the MRT and close to the Singapore River. The exhibition consisted of several bookcases full of (paper) manga and a table upon which sat many portable devices from Sony showing off electronic manga. There was also a small display touting Kinokuniya’s multi-platform manga reading app called Kinoppy. A monitor in the back recapped various events the organizers have previously held. Two tables held surveys, mostly about manga in general, and people who filled out surveys received a free carrying bag as well as a small gift.
Although the gifts and bags did not have anything to do with VOCALOID, there was a VOCALOID section on the bookshelves, with Roipara! on display as well as Kurousa Works, the Mikunopolis “art book” and MIKU-Pack 00. Meanwhile, in the back area of the exhibition was a gallery of VOCALOID artwork, the centerpiece of which was a giant illustration over one meter tall. The art was by Suzunosuke and featured all of the VOCALOID characters from Crypton. It was surrounded by smaller setups with the rest of the artwork, from Chiho, KEI, putidevil and Y-Oji. A collection of Y-Oji and putidevil artwork was also on display outside the exhibition area near the entrance, although it was easy to miss due to being located after the entryway.