No-one cares about your Vocaloids’ birthdays

Alternative titles : "Happy Birthday Gumi ; pity no-one cares."

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
  • Concerts.
And the list goes on and on. Not to mention the recent appearance and collaboration with Toyota (?) in the US. From a humble , obscure , even less mainstream than AOIA (tsk) voice synthesizer program into an entire fan culture, and even a pop idol, Miku has pushed us deep into the uncanny valley. And it’s a great cycle: Miku grows with more fans, growth=more fans, ???, profit.
So in a sense, fans aren’t exactly celebrating the mere existence of the Vocaloid itself. They are celebrating its image. The one made by thousands of fans, illustrated in every situation possible, with life and colour thrown into the mix , making her seem more real than real, yet more false than false, with an entire plethora of material based off of her, from webcomics to clothing to even NSFW material. This is because the image of Miku evolves over time, as all Vocaloids do.
So yet again, their birthdays seem arbitrary.
It doesn’t matter when Miku or Gumi was released. The dates hold no significance ; CRYPTON could make Miku’s birthday the 3rd of September of something, but fans will celebrate nonetheless, more content with the Vocaloid’s mere existence than anything else. The point is, even if their birthdays aren’t as arbitrary, the Vocaloids are just like anime characters when it comes to celebrations: whatever date their birthdays might be, just serves as a way for the fans to once again, get together and demonstrate the power of their collective fandom.
But who else ,other than me, listens to Gumi anyway? I’ll be alone replaying my EXiTUNES GUMism album , won’t I? Suddenly their birthdays seem much more important.
Thoughts?

 

 

 

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About Valence

I blog things.
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25 Responses to No-one cares about your Vocaloids’ birthdays

  1. In my opinion i thing they (the companies)make all this birthday thing a big deal, like you said its all about the image and money. im sure everytime there is a birthday for a character eg Miku, fans are still going to buy stuff miku realted because its her birthday, clever marketing strategy i would say when companies add in birthday’s for characters, because if that character becomes famous then i would definitely see money involved haha, check out k-on! the girls made a revolution in the otaku sphere haha. nice post, very interesting and im sure most dont realise it.

    • Valence says:

      A-ha, your blog’s back online!

      Do they market heavily on the character’s birthdays? I’m not sure, but I don’t think the celebrations are spurred by the companies themselves but rather done willingly on the fan’s own accord.

      • Osu! ye everything is back up! ^^

        yes they do, i remember when i was in japan in the summer of 2008, there was a birthday for a character, didnt know who it was but for sure in akihabara they certainly put of a table with the merchandise of the character and a sign of the birthday, im telling its all marketing strategy as well and ye fan’s ow accord so it works kinda both ways :3

  2. baka~ says:

    The way I see it, celebrating character birthdays is a deep level of admiration that a fan can offer to… his 2D goddess? I hold such devotion to high regard but despite my own admiration for characters, I simply can’t bring myself to memorize or celebrate their birthdays.

    The question now is: “would a fan who doesn’t celebrate his idol’s birthday loses his right to call himself a fan?”

  3. lvlln says:

    In a sense, all birthdays are arbitrary, aren’t they? We celebrate them based on an artificial construct called a “calendar,” which allows us to approximate time periods during which the Earth is at the same place in its revolution around the Sun as it was when we were born. There’s no deeper meaning behind them. They simply mean as much as what we want them to mean. So birthdays of Vocaloids or anime characters are arbitrary, just like real birthdays.

  4. Azure says:

    The only vocaloids I care about are Gumi, Lily and Meiko. But I don’t care enough to learn their birthdays, sadly.
    Maybe I’ll go eat some green M&Ns to celebrate now…

  5. Mira says:

    Character birthdays are important because eventually, you’ll forget about them. Just like you do with real people. So they might as well celebrate it while they’re still interested in Vocaloids. Or at least, that’s my cynical take on things. XD

  6. Sebz says:

    cus you never asked who did, I LOVE GUMI O.O

  7. ~xxx says:

    Birthdays in business minded is a time where they market someone’s birthday in order to make profit out of it.

    It’s just a very practical marketing strategy.
    But wait, what are they?

  8. Nopy says:

    I don’t think most otaku know or celebrate the “birthdays” of their favourite characters. The ones that do usually do so in such a profound way that images from their celebration make their way to anime websites across the net like a virus. My guess is that the people that do this are just out for attention.

  9. hiroy_raind says:

    I never really cared about characters’ birthday.
    … until one of my friend actually celebrates them like those who posted pictures of themselves having a “birthday party” with their favorite characters.
    I’d like to stop him because he’s kinda wasting time and money, especially since he’s buying a bit expensive cake. But hey, apparently his laptop screen cannot eat cake, so we got the leftover cake.
    Yay, I guess.

    Hoh, Gumi just had a birthday? HAPPY BIR—
    *searches GUMI songs on his laptop, found nothing newer than 3 months*
    –nah, nevermind.

  10. I just popped into say that Hatsune Miku is basically my goddess and I would gladly kiss her shoe if so required.

    That is all.

  11. Nadja says:

    You’re not alone. Gumi is my favorite next to Luka.

    Any songs of hers you like specifically?

    Currently, I’ve got an obsession with her song “Ten-faced.” Have you heard it before?

  12. Eh, not to keen on remembering fictional birthdays when I can not even the birthdays for people around me, lol. The pragmatic side of me only wants to look at this for another excuse for profit, but meh. Guess some hardcore fans would care….

  13. Yi says:

    I’m not keen on birthdays of fictional characters. I don’t even know the birthdays of some of my best friends. It makes celebration of Vocaloid birthday seem even more trivial. But I guess other fans have ways to celebrate their fandom. Who are we to care how others revel in their favorite things?

  14. ScorchNRoses says:

    Well, if they wanna celebrate their birthdays, just let them do it, I guess. It doesn’t matter to me if people do it since it doesn’t really bother me in a way. Frankly speaking, I do, too, buy a cake on 31st August just to “celebrate” Miku’s Birthday (that’s if I have the money to do so lol ) and satisfy my love for sweet food at the same time.

    And yes, giving characters birthday is a good marketing strategy to milk money from the fans, just like how they are doing it with Miku.

    Anyway, I love Vocaloid songs regardless of the character singing it. ( there are EXCEPTIONS though; I know I’m hypocritical 😛 ) Of course, I do have my own rankings of the different Vocaloids, but nevertheless, they are all great. What matters to me isn’t the Vocaloid character, but the song producers :3

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