Mirai no Neiro at Anime Expo 2014
Every year, Delusion Production House (D.P.H) hosts a Vocaloid panel at Anime Expo called “Mirai no Neiro -Sound of the Future-“. At this panel, Vocaloid-related creators present and talk about their works. Several of the guests came all the way from Japan at their own expense. Despite the first panel starting 9:30am on Sunday July 6th, the last day of Anime Expo, the room was packed.
This year’s Mirai no Neiro was divided into two panels. The first panel featured Vocaloid producers KagomeP, buzzG, Wata-ame, UtataP, illustrator Wogura, and MMD animation producer MasatakaP. There was an interpreter for the guests who could not speak English. Photos were not allowed; however, we got permission to post the pictures in this report.
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After brief introductions, buzzG premiered the music video for Izayoi Soushi (十六夜草紙), a Hatsune Miku song. This song is included on buzzG’s major album Drama, his doujin album Automata Overdrive, and Farm Record’s compilation album Vocarock Collection 4. This rock song has a bit of traditional Japanese flair and gentle vocals from what is likely Hatsune Miku Append. BuzzG described the song as having a nostalgic band sound with a Japan-like melody on top. He brought the song hoping everyone would enjoy it. He apologized for the lack of English subtitles, but he may fix this when he uploads it in the near future.
BuzzG enjoys making songs with Japanese-style lyrics and hopes it will cause everyone to take a greater interest in Japan. The illustrations in Izayoi Soushi are by Senkawa. When Senkawa does illustrations for a song, he first listens to a song and then draws out whatever comes from his imagination. This song gave him images of bakeneko and moonlit night skies. BuzzG said he’s not good with public places with big crowds, but he thanked everyone for coming.
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Wata-ame is a Vocaloid producer still in college. He said he believes many people at the panel love anime and Vocaloid, and so does he. The song Wata-ame brought is one of his older works, Shiki Toki Uta (四季刻歌), which features IA on vocals. Unlike the version uploaded online, this one had English subtitles. You can see the original version below.
This is Wata-ame’s breakout hit and is still quite attached to it because of that. In this song, the protagonist is suffering from the effects of time and love, so she is sending her feelings through this “sad and beautiful song”. Wata-ame is fond of the classical Japanese style of pronunciation and speaking. Ever since long ago, Japan has culture of playing with words as a sort of entertainment. The problem, however, is that he is not very good at singing. When he encountered Vocaloid and tried using it, he was very fascinated and impressed. He’s currently 19, but he was 14 when first used Vocaloid programs. Wata-ame is largely influenced by the Vocaloid and anime songs he heard at that young age. He makes music because he hopes that in the same way he was moved by those anime and Vocaloid songs, he can also move people’s hearts. Wata-ame hopes that when he goes back to Japan, he can overcome the language barrier and still speak with everyone through the form of music.
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UtataP introduced himself as the creator of the “This is the Happiness and Peace of Mind Committee/Kochira, Koufuku Anshin Iinkai Desu (こちら、幸福安心委員会です。)” on Youtube and NicoNico. UtataP asked the audience if they knew the song and was answered with cheers. He responded with a thanks and a “shiawase desu.” UtataP said he is also known as a horse on Twitter and took out a horse mask from under the table. He continues, “Actually, recently I’m evolving because I can transform into …a unicorn”, (He takes out a unicorn mask) “Giraffe” (Then a giraffe mask) “And a panda” (Then a panda mask). He also plans to get a gorilla mask.
UtataP has been uploading videos on Nico Nico Douga since 2007. The lyrics of his first song consisted only of the sounds “U” and “Ta” because he doesn’t usually write lyrics. This is why he is known as “UtataP.” He has been living in California since 2001 and came to the US to learn English. When UtataP was living in Japan, he played a lot of online games like Diablo and Age of Empires. There were many English speakers in the game and he couldn’t communicate with the players because he couldn’t read or understand long sentences in English. So he decided to go to the US to learn English for these games. He planned to stay for 6 monthsm but it’s been 13 years since. Now he can communicate with many players in-game. UtataP says he should be happy; however, he has recently started playing League of Legends. He’s a beginner, so people cuss at him with many f-words. He thinks he shouldn’t have learned English because he doesn’t want to understand those cuss words. UtataP switched the topic back to Vocaloid and introduced his new song called “Uragiri Module (ウラギリモジュール)”.
He uploaded this song on Nico Nico Douga 3 days prior to the panel. The translation of the title is “Betraying Module”. The concept of this song is a virtual world. He used IA’s new voicebank, IA Rocks, which was released a month ago by 1st Place. This is one of the optional demo songs. Though there is “Rock” in the name, UtataP believes her voice fits with genres of EDM, such as techno and dubstep.
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Next is wogura’s turn to discuss the illustrations used in “Uragiri Module.” This is her second time here and she is glad to see everyone again. Wogura went through the steps in creating the art for “Uragiri Module”. When she gets a demo song from UtataP, Wogura begins by drafting ideas while listening to the demo. The story of this song about the protagonist living in a virtual world, so she chose to give her a headset display. She sends the drafts to UtataP, and if he approves them, she starts to do the lineart process. On the screen, Wogura showed the lineart of the illustration, then the base colors and shading. She then added in background art and a few light effects. After she finished the illustration, she decided she wanted to make a version without the headset display. UtataP ended up using both versions in the final video.
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Next was KagomeP. Just like the introduction at the beginning of the panel, poor KagomeP was forgotten and Masataka spoke first on accident. Kagome teased saying this was the second time he was forgotten today. KagomeP thanked everyone for joining him early in the morning and apologized for reading off his speech paper again this year. He started off with a story from his plane flight. He only had a few movies to choose from, so he ended up choosing the Robocop remake. “IT WAS SO FUCKING TERRIBLE MOVIE” yelled KagomeP. He complained that far into the movie, there was still no fighting and he really wanted some action. So he decided he’d rather get some sleep.
Kagome wasn’t expecting the panel to be in the morning and ended up with a very hyper tune. His song is “Welcome to DQN Style 2”.
KagomeP wrote this song for a Rin compilation album that will be sold at this year’s Comiket called “DQN Style 2.” He asked anyone attending Comiket to please say hi to him at his booth. The first compilation album in the series, DQN Style 1 contains the song he played at last year’s panel “good night, and Fxxkin’ Anthems”, except it is sung by Rin instead of GUMI. The concept of this series of albums is “songs that DQN might listen to.” Like the other songs in the first DQN Style album, “Welcome to DQN Style 2” has a strong beat with coarse lyrics sung by Rin.
Ever since KagomeP started working with Vocaloid, he was always interested in going overseas. So he made a bunch of English songs. He was never interested in being popular in Japan and hoped his work would help take him to overseas events. KagomeP was even invited to Germany and China last year, was a DJ for both events, and had a lot of fun. This is his third time at AX. KagomeP can’t help but think Vocaloid saved his life. Before he started making music with Vocaloid, he was in the dark side. But here, despite not being taller and still not popular with the girls, he’s much happier and is enjoying life a lot more. He believes it’s the US’s turn now that Miku is released in English. He hopes more people will be saved by Vocaloid. “We are very lucky to have met Vocaloid”.
Sunzriver could not come to the panel because he got ill and had to return to Japan. However, they had his message and his song. Sunzriver’s song is “Rokugatsu no Mado (六月の窓)” featuring Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Rin, and Megurine Luka. The video is filled with rain imagery and umbrellas. The song is similar in style to his Sakasama Rainbow with some other genres of EDM mixed in.
Until the day before, sunzriver was in LA and was excited to meet everyone, but unfortunately he fell ill and had to make an emergency return trip to Japan. He first came to the Mirai no Neiro panel in 2011, the year Hatsune Miku sung at the Nokia theater for Mikunopolis. He thought it was really fun and he fell in love with the city and its air. Rokugatsu no Mado was made two years ago and he kept it unreleased just for this day. He feels frustrated and regretful that he cannot make it to the panel, but he hopes the song really “rings” with everyone.
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MasatakaP makes PVs using MMD. MasatakaP briefly explains that MMD, Miku Miku Dance, is a software created by Higuchi and its main purpose is to create videos to go along with illustrations and music. MasatakaP shows a video featuring clips from his MMD works, including his Chaining Intention PV, Kinou Sekai no Rondo PV, EDEN PV, and more. Lastly, he showed his Miku Miku ni Shite Ageru PV, even though it is technically not MMD. Unfortunately, the panel ran out of time and MasatakaP could not go more into detail about MMD.
With that, the first part of Mirai no Neiro ended. For more information about the panelists, check out their profiles on Mirai no Neiro’s Anime Expo thread.
Mirai no Neiro Part 2
After an hour and a half break and an informal autograph session, the second part of Mirai no Neiro started in a different room. This year, this section of Mirai no Neiro was a bit different. As usual, it began with a short MMD concert projected on a large insect netting screen. The songlist appears to be the same as the MMD concert shown at this year’s Mirai no Neiro panel at Mexico’s TNT Expo. Songs included nana(Sevencolors)’s Electro Train, livetune’s Tell Your World, Dixie Flatline’s cover of La Bikina, and Ankari’s cover of La Bamba.
The rest of the panel took a more “cultural” turn. The guests for this section are Tara Knight and Toshihiro Fukuoka.
Tara Knight is a filmmaker, animator, and project designer for theater and dance who currently teaches at the University of California, San Diego. She is also the creator of Mikumentary, a series of short films about the “worldwide Hatsune Miku phenomenon.” Knight talked a bit about the Mikumentary series, which started in 2011 because she was curious about Vocaloid and Miku. As she talked to fans, she became interested in becoming part of the community too. She understood how difficult it was to explain what Vocaloid is to a stranger. It is hard and complicated to explain with its complexity and nuances. There isn’t anything like Vocaloid and Miku and its bottom-up community. Where does one even begin? Knight made Mikumentary to help with this.
Knight showed off the latest episodes of Mikumentary. The first video features interviews with Japanese fans at the bar VOCAROOM. The second video discusses feminism and Hatsune Miku, featuring interviews with women. She wanted to address the questions many cosplayers face, such as why they cosplay and why cosplay and Miku aren’t necessarily sexualized. The last video features Knight’s own attempt to create a song with Miku.
Knight, in the spirit of Vocaloid’s culture of collaboration, encourages anyone to use Mikumentary clips freely in their own videos through creative commons.
Toshihiro Fukuoka, also known as F-oka, was the producer of Mikunopolis and is the Editor in Chief for Weekly ASCII. Fukuoka discussed the similarity between bunraku, a type of Japanese puppet theater and Hatsune Miku. Bunraku features a puppet that dances and “sings” to songs and stories, similar to what Hatsune Miku does today. He talked about Takemoto Sumitayu VII, a recently retired bunraku narrator who is considered a living national treasure. He showed a clip of one of his performances. Fukuoka then showed a video of a bunraku performance to supercell’s Melt. He then showed a trailer for an upcoming Vocaloid fusion bunraku performance called “Vocaloid Opera Aoi”. This is modern retelling of Aoi no Ue featuring singing by Vocaloids Nekomura Iroha, Yuzuki Yukari, and VY1V3. It will be screen at London’s Hyper Japan this month.
After a Q & A session with Tara Knight and Toshihiro Fukuoka, one last song was played on the screen. This song is “I’m Not Gonna Disappear” by Uruguayan-now-living-in-Mexico Vocaloid producer Ankari. This is her first time using Miku English.
Despite the unfortunate timing and date of the panels, the attendance was still impressive. I’m looking forward to next year’s panels and guests!