With the upcoming 10th anniversary of Hatsune Miku coming up later this year, Crypton Future Media attended this year’s Anime Expo, bringing along producers Hachioji P and BIGHEAD. Miku merchandise populated a booth in the exhibit hall, attendees filled a huge room to watch footage from the Miku Expo Japan Tour, fans lined up for an autograph session with the two producers, and party-goers raved through the night with a Miku-themed dance party. We thank Anime Expo, AXDance and Crypton Future Media for giving us the opportunity to cover these events.
While the majority of the Miku-related events were packed into Day 2 (July 2) of Anime Expo, the industry area, a.k.a. exhibit hall, opened for all four days of the event. The booth was dominated by a giant sign adorned with the official Miku 10th anniversary illustration. Attendees were encouraged to take photos with the sign and post them on social media with a “#miku10th” hashtag.
T-shirts, wall scrolls, keychains and specially made digital download cards for Crypton’s Sonoca digital music store comprised the 10th anniversary merchandise. Also available were leftover stock from the Miku Expo North American tour, including a back pack stuffed with assorted merchandise. Squishables and merchandise from Hachioji P and BIGHEAD rounded out the offerings. Anyone who purchased a CD was eligible for a ticket to attend an autograph session with the two producers. BIGHEAD even made cassette tapes commemorating his visit to Anime Expo.
Tucked amongst the merchandise was also a small flyer which gave a brief summary of Hatsune Miku as well as some of the achievements in the past ten years. Advertisements for the dance party as well as Just Dance 2018 (which includes Love Ward as one of its songs) adorned the flyer in addition to a QR code linking to a survey whose reward was free smartphone wallpapers.
The autograph session took place at 1:20 PM on the second day of Anime Expo, in the industry autographs area. By the time Hachioji P and BIGHEAD were ready to sign autographs, the tail end of the main line had to be moved up to the front to form a second line.
Fans donned various items celebrating their love of Miku and Vocaloid; Miku-themed shirts, happis as well as full-on cosplay were just some of the ways people in line displayed their fandom. Of course, what people wanted signed were also as diverse. Standard items like CDs and wall scrolls were a given, but at least one hardcore fan brought in a Miku Expo theme song vinyl record. A Project Diva F PS Vita, a Midi Fighter 3D, and a Miku-colored tie were also among the items signed.
In addition to signatures, autograph session attendees also had the opportunity to get their picture taken with the producers, whether via selfies or with the staff helping with the photos.
A screening of the Miku Expo Japan Tour was held later in the day in a section of the Diamond Ballroom at the JW Marriott; hundreds of seats were filled by the time the screening was about to start. The lights dimmed and the audience members whipped out their light sticks in support.
The time allotted was not sufficient to air the full concert, but the majority of the songs were covered in the showing, with only a few songs and the encore skipped to save time. While magnet and World Is Mine were standard crowd favorites, the audience really geared up when Worlds’ End Dance Hall came on. An “oh my god!” came from the audience when Aikotoba started up as well, and Snowman was a big hit as well. MEIKO’s Change me (not to mention the camera operator’s sketchy shots) and Rin-Len’s RemoCon were also quite well received. Luka Luka Night Fever‘s intro had the audience chanting rhythmically to it, although there was an audible “boo” from the crowd, perhaps jokingly given. Although the crowd was all seated, their energy was felt amongst a sea of waving light sticks.
Day turned to night and Anime Expo was ready for a dance party; AXDance on the second night of Anime Expo 2017 hosted the “Hatsune Miku 10th Anniversary Dance Party”. Perhaps to accommodate the younger demographic, the Crypton-organized segment of the party was held first, followed by other talents closing out the rest of AXDance that evening. Concourse Hall F featured a “dance floor” area in front of the DJ booth, and this is where the hardcore crowd congregated, with more casual attendees hanging around on the outskirts. A row of chairs along the walls let people take a break from heavy dancing.
First in the lineup was The Orkestrate, an electronic group who came into the Vocaloid spotlight after clutching a runner-up position in the Miku Expo Song Contest with their song Constellation. For the dance event at Anime Expo, they gave an audio visual performance centered around a cyber punk story taking place in the year 2044. Visual novel-inspired imagery narrated the story of a hacktivist group taking on a massive corporation via a series of guerilla concerts, while the DJs spun song after song providing a musical backdrop. At one point during their performance, Hachioji P snuck out of the backroom and surveyed the scene, circling the massive crowd.
Next up was BIGHEAD, who appeared shy at first as he approached the CDJs, but immediately got the groove starting again by playing hit after hit in sequence. Some of the tracks were his own, like the Miku Expo theme song Sharing the World and the Racing Miku 2015 theme song Gallop Through The World, but he wasn’t shy in letting out some big anthems like Senbonzakura or Tell Your World as well. The livetune version of SPECTRUM, as well as Hibikase and ECHO also got the crowd going. Not only were people armed with light sticks, but light sabers and even a giant hug pillow were waving around in time with the beat. Staff cosplayers dancing to either side of the DJ booth rounded out the festive atmosphere.
Hachioji P was last, but not least, DJ to hit the mixer, starting out his set with a recent rendition of Sweet Devil before moving onto modern staples such as Little Scarlet Bad Girl and Satisfaction. He also threw in remixes of anime songs such as irony from OreImo and even a remix of a Pokemon song he had made as well as a remix of Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. After playing the standard version of Electric Love he always spins, Hachioji P closed out his set with TEKINA’s remixes of Melt and Black Rock Shooter, taking a photo of the crowd during the last song.
Perhaps to accommodate the schedules of con attendees, BIGHEAD and Hachioji P played two more similar sets for the night—unlike club events in Japan, there appeared to be constant traffic in and out of the venue as attendees shuffled between events and engagements. The center of the dance floor was still a solid mass of fans dancing to the beats. Slight differences in the sets kept the crowd happy while letting the audience get as much of the anthems as they wanted. Curiously, although BIGHEAD wore a white shirt for the first set, he switched to a black shirt with an “Amellica” logo in the style of Metallica for his second set. Hachioji P’s second set closed out the Miku dance party, with other AXDance DJs taking over for the rest of the night.
Photo credits: Hisana, hightrancesea.