A Vocaloid fan since 2009, Koriander is never ashamed to share her views on the fan driven harmony that keeps the franchise strong.
The first sound of the future
Although Vocaloid public performances have been spotted since at least 2004 and full concerts featuring Miku Hatsune have been lighting up the internet since 2009, very few of these performances have made it legally on stage in the United States, and even fewer have been available on any legal discs or streaming platforms. Many performances have been fan made with or without consent from Yamaha or Crypton.
But the March 2021 Blu-Ray Hatsune Miku Magical Mirai hopes to change that with a budget friendly release that is slowly making its way into "big box" retailers.
Running at 119 minutes, this mostly family friendly offering originally taped in 2016 is all in Japanese with no English subtitles and very few English words actually used, but the music is so catchy that it doesn't seem to be a deal breaker.
Affordable and available
A Colorful Tone
It's a mostly family friendly concert despite being listed as "Not Rated" but there is one problematic song on the set list. Slow Motion opens with 16 year old Miku surrounded by medication, even sporting the colorful capsules in her hair, an alarming sight especially if you look up the song's lyrics about a girl dealing with depression and anxiety over where her life is going while she is overcoming the flu.
Many Vocaloid concerts feature songs that deal with adult subject matter, but aside from this song and a few slightly disturbing implications in the song Doctor Funk, this concert doesn't offer too many songs that would make your parents blush if they read the lyrics online, making it a great first choice for introducing less open minded people to the genre.
There are a few minor issues aside from the lack of subtitles. For one, the Vocaloids don't appear as clear on the Pepper's Ghost screens as they have in other videos before and since, but this may just be an issue with the screens they had to use for this venue.
Another issue is that a few songs have the Vocaloids pitched far too high. This is a trend that has continued with the latest DLC for the Hatsune Miku video games on PS4 and Nintendo Switch, where the singers are pitched to a squeal, likely in an effort to appeal to younger audiences, but this really isn't necessary when you consider that Miku and Rin already have light voices. There's also a sound glitch with Ai Dee where Luka's rap drops out in certain spots to a whisper.
Another issue some may gripe about is the lack of teamwork and variety from the songs chosen. KAiTO and MEiKO only get one solo song a piece while Luka gets two. Len and Rin get one solo a piece and then one duet. Luka shares a duet with Miku as does Rin, and then Len and Rin team up with Miku on the song Shake It. The rest of the 119 minutes belongs to Miku, with one spotlight song given to the human band playing behind her.
The last problem is that the disc does not have any special features or any extra artwork, but for $12 this can be forgiven. Now, onto the good stuff.
A magical future
While the disc itself is a plain, zombie-mint color, the artwork on the case is absolutely adorable, designed by South Korea born artist LENA [A-7] who is credited on the official website, but nowhere on the Blu-Ray. It's been rumored that the lack of credit on the US Blu-Ray may have something to do with the artist having drawn adult material in the past - and some of it seems to involve minors. Considering some of the songs in the Vocaloid canon, that may not sound like a deal breaker to you, but where they did try a lot harder to reach younger audiences here, that rumor - whether or not that's the reason - may hold a little weight. At least here though, all six of the Vocaloids chosen are fully clothed, spaced apart and just having a nice time playing music.
119 minutes and 26 songs gives you plenty to listen to, and there is enough of a variety of sounds and styles that you're bound to pick a few favorites.
While 24 of the 26 songs have appeared in the games released on PS4, (albiet under slightly different titles) Baby Maniacs and Doctor Funk appear to be absent from Project Diva X and Future Tone as of this writing. Baby Maniacs is a hidden gem of a song, featuring Miku in a ladylike purple costume with gorgeous curls, setting her apart from her normal teal pigtails.
39music!, Ai Dee and Shake it are energetic, positive songs showing off the cute side of Miku while Strangers captures the emotion of outcasts finding common bonds. Hitorinbo Envy is a song about a girl dealing with feeling not needed while her parents are splitting up, while Hello Worker is a song about office life. Dreamin Chuchu (Incorrectly titled "reamin chuchu" on the box) and Sweet Magic are both songs about making sweets for your first love.
Remote Controller is a comedy song about playing video games, a great reminder that Sega not only made all of the Hatsune Miku video games, but also the CGI models used for this concert. Sega also puts their usual spin on the tunes, which were originally written by fans of Vocaloid, so many of the songs feel like pleasant callbacks to Sonic Adventure.
Hibikase is one of the more self aware tracks, sung from the perspective of a Vocaloid who is aware she is part of a software program on a PC and is waiting for you to program her to sing something new. While many Vocaloid songs are written in ways to make Miku seem like just as real of a girl as a normal human, songs like this keep the character grounded in her roots, a refreshing take on the virtual idol image in a song that is electric and passionate.
The costume changes are surprisingly few when compared to other Vocaloid concerts, but with the exception of Slow Motion, all of the costumes are age appropriate. This isn't an issue for KAiTO, MEiKO or Luka who are all over the age of 20, but for 16 year old Miku and for 14 year old Rin and Len, this is a very welcome breath of fresh air.
Hatsune Miku Magical Mirai may not be seen as a groundbreaking Blu-Ray, but it is a shining offer of hope for those who have been wishing to legally watch more of the performances. It's great for family viewing and as of this writing, is priced just right for even the smallest of budgets.
© 2021 Koriander Bullard