While I’m past the point of pretending to care about character birthdays to save writing an entire post and still manage to solicit attention from my readers, I’ll still have to begin this point with informing you of a character’s birthday. Gumi, the mascot character of Megpoid, a singing synthesize software voiced by Megumi Nakajima, has had her 2nd birthday yesterday on the 25th of June. Did you know that? Me neither. Let’s move on.
In an old article, I wrote about how most anime characters just have arbitrary dates as birthdays, and yet these dates are held in high esteem by otaku everywhere as some kind of day where they get money out to buy all sorts of pastries and snacks and et cetera, pretending that aforementioned character is eating the pastry/dating the fan/doing something NSFW and what else tickles their fancy.
However, Vocaloids have a different kind of birthday. Their ‘birthday’ is based on their actual release date, or, as some might call it, their birth date (duh.) . Here’s where we start to dip into the uncanny valley.
The thing is that the dates they celebrate are in fact, the Vocaloids’ birthdays. The key argument in the old post was that since the dates are arbitrary, there wasn’t much point nor significance in celebrating the character’s birthdays. Here, this simply doesn’t apply : the dates do hold significance as they are the program’s release date, and fans of the Vocaloid programs hold tribute. Same thing with the fangasms everything a ‘new’ iPhone comes out.
It sounds perfectly fine. Kind of like the whole Apple phenomenon.
Then again, you’ll soon realize that the reason they celebrate her birthday isn’t because they like the program Gumi represents. They simply like Gumi. Same goes for all the other Vocaloids. And the answer is simple. It’s simply because Vocaloids have evolved into an entire franchise. They are no longer merely programs. They are pop culture icons, which reach further than the eye can see.
The power of Miku is a good example. Let’s see how far she has gone:
- First Vocaloid to become a pop idol
- Started as an obscure program
- Made popular via Nico Nico Douga
- Initial sales exceeding 57,000,000 Yen
- Number of copies sold v. number of copies of normal synthesizer software sold = ~58:1
- Creator of Miku’s art starts Manga : spreads into massive fandom with fanart and fancomics everywhere
- Used by robot models, used as cameos in games and anime
- On all sorts of vehicles: itasha, the racing itasha, bicycles, aboard a goddamn spacecraft