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Mikunopolis in Los Angeles [Happy to Meet You I’m Hatsune Miku] (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

For me, the whole concept of virtual idols and also the Vocaloid Software has been quite intriguing for me and I have followed the development of virtual idols for many years now and to see how popular Hatsune Miku has become and how the character has been marketed, especially via videogames, Figma figures, nendoroids, clothing, food… Hatsune Miku is no doubt a phenomenon.  In my many years of covering Japanese entertainment, I have never seen anything like this before.  And it’s pretty fascinating and also exciting to see this happening.   “Mikunopolis in Los Angeles [Happy to Meet You I’m Hatsune Miku] is a wonderful Blu-ray concert release for Hatsune Miku and Vocaloid fans.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © SEGA/Crypton Future Media, Inc., Mikunopolis 2011. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Mikunopolis in Los Angeles [Happy to Meet You I’m Hatsune Miku]

YEAR OF CONCERT: 2011

DURATION: 98 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Linear PCM Stereo, Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles are in English or Romaji

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Featuring the voices of:

Hatsune Miku (Vocals)

Kagamine Rin (Vocals)

Kagamine Len (Vocals)

Megurine Luka (Vocals)

The 39s (The Thanks)

June Abe (keyboard)

Akitoshi Kuroda (Guitar)

Shingo Tanaka (Bass)

Shin Orita (Drums)

39s Strings

On July 2nd, 2011, the internationally known Vocaloid Hatsune Miku performed at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. This marks her very first concert here in the U.S. With 3D imaging created by SEGA and supervised by Crypton Future Media, the LA show was jam packed with songs and dance numbers by Hatsune Miku and the whole vocaloid team! Featuring the Los Angeles concert in its entirety, this Blu-Ray is contains live performances, your favorite songs from your favorite Vocaloids and more!

Hatsune Miku  (who’s name means “First sound of the future”) is possibly the biggest virtual idol to come from Japan.

A national phenomenon in Japan, Miku is a blue-haired digital female avatar and the most popular of the Vocaloid Character Series software originally created by Crypton Future Media and using Yamaha’s Vocaloid 2 engine. The innovative software enables users to create synthesized vocal tracks using Hatsune Miku’s vocals by simply typing in lyrics or inputting a melody. Crypton’s Vocaloid program uses vocals that are derived from pre-programmed samples of the voices of many popular actors/singers.

And then those who had the software started making their own songs using Hatsune Miku and then came figurines, books, arcade games, video games, apparel, food and sure enough, many Hatsune Miku music soundtracks (plus the many international Miku (and friends) cosplay at anime conventions worldwide.

In July 2011,  Miku performed live in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles and appeared on stage as a 3D hologram, backed by her live band called the “39s members”.

In promotion for the performance, Toyota did a national commercial plus social media to promote Miku driving a Toyota care but also promoting the concert which was very successful and received major press coverage which fascinated people because thousands turned out for an live concert event for an animated character.

The 98 minute concert featured songs performed by Hatsune Miku and other Vocaloid characters Megurine Luka, Kagamine Rin and Len .  The event also featured popular otaku host, Danny Choo.

And now the concert will be released on Blu-ray+CD courtesy of Aniplex Inc.

“Mikunopolis in Los Angeles [Happy to Meet You I’m Hatsune Miku] Track Listing:

  1. Project Diva Desu. [Live]    3:01    t.Komine (うたたP) Feat. 初音ミク
  2. ワールドイズマイン (World is Mine) [Live]    2:58    supercell Feat. 初音ミク
  3. えれくとりっく・えんじぇぅ (Electric Angel) [Live]    3:26    ヤスオP Feat. 初音ミク
  4. [email protected] [Live]   ([email protected] in Love)  3:17    OSTER project Feat. 初音ミク
  5. クローバー・クラブ [Live]  (Clover Club)   3:04    ゆうゆ Feat. 初音ミク
  6. ぽっぴっぽー [Live]    (Poppippo) 3:01    ラマーズP Feat. 初音ミク
  7. ロミオとシンデレラ [Live]  (Romeo and Cinderella)  3:20    doriko Feat. 初音ミク
  8. 裏表ラバーズ [Live]  (Uraomote Lovers) 2:34    wowaka (現実逃避P) Feat. 初音ミク
  9. パズル [Live]  (Puzzle)  1:42    クワガタP Feat. 初音ミク
  10. VOiCE [Live]    0:41    ラヴリーP Feat. 初音ミク
  11. 1/6 -out of the gravity- [Live]    2:21    ぼーかりおどP Feat. 初音ミク
  12. moon [Live]    3:13    iroha (sasaki) Feat. 初音ミク
  13. 初音ミクの消失 [Live] (The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku)    2:20   [email protected] Feat. 初音ミク
  14. 右肩の蝶 [Live]  (The Butterfly on My Right Shoulder)  3:38    のりぴー Feat. 初音ミク
  15. 炉心融解 [Live] (Roshin Yokai)   3:57    iroha (sasaki) Feat. 鏡音リン
  16. Just Be Friends [Live]  (Just Be Friends)  3:14    Dixie Flatline Feat. 巡音ルカ
  17. ワールズエンド・ダンスホール [Live]  (World’s End Dancehall)   3:43    wowaka (現実逃避P) Feat. 初音ミク, 巡音ルカ
  18. from Y to Y [Live]    3:08    ジミーサムP Feat. 初音ミク
  19. サイハテ [Live]  (The Furthest Reaches)  2:41    小林オニキス Feat. 初音ミク
  20. ファインダー (DSLR remix-re:edit) [Live]  (Finder)  3:39    livetune Feat. 初音ミク
  21. SPiCa [Live]    4:13    とくP Feat. 初音ミク
  22. 愛言葉 [Live]  (Aikotoba)   3:13    DECO*27 Feat. 初音ミク
  23. StargazeR [Live]    4:00    骨盤P Feat. 初音ミク
  24. ハジメテノオト [Live] (The First Sound)    3:32    malo Feat. 初音ミク

VIDEO:

“Mikunopolis in Los Angeles [Happy to Meet You I’m Hatsune Miku]” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  For the most part, picture quality when it comes to showcasing the band members and the audience looks very good in HD.  Even a distant shot of showcasing Hatsune Miku and others, looked very good in HD.  But when it comes to closeups of the actual projection, that is where things get a bit blurrier.  But that is to be expected.  If anything, the editing for the concert was well-done, so shots don’t focus on a certain character, band member or audience member for too long.

I didn’t notice any banding or compression artifact issues during my viewing of the Blu-ray, but the picture quality of “Mikunopolis in Los Angeles [Happy to Meet You I’m Hatsune Miku]” was very good!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Mikunopolis in Los Angeles [Happy to Meet You I’m Hatsune Miku]” is presented in Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 and Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  My preferences were more for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 for the dynamic range.  Also, good use of the surround channels for the audience and overall ambiance.  But if you are a Miku fan, those with the gear to take advantage of the concert in lossless will enjoy the overall soundtrack.

The Blu-ray comes with both English subtitles (via English translation) and Romaji.  It’s important to note that for tracks 8-11, there are no English subtitles in order to keep the creators intention in mind for the medley portion.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mikunopolis in Los Angeles [Happy to Meet You I’m Hatsune Miku]” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of MIKUNOPOLIS – (3:54) A photo and video clip of Miku and staff arriving to Los Angeles for their performance at Nokia Theatre.
  • Opening Act – (13:14) Featuring the opening act with Danny Choo and the Danceroids (and two dance performances by them).

EXTRAS:

“Mikunopolis in Los Angeles [Happy to Meet You I’m Hatsune Miku]” comes with the Blu-ray, CD soundtrack (featuring the same live concert tracks featured on the Blu-ray concert disc), deluxe digipak, PET clear case and a 2-sided poster.

I happened to be in Los Angeles during the day of “Mikunopolis in Los Angeles” and I know that the excitement for the concert could be felt, especially the number of Vocaloid cosplayers in the area.

But prior to this concert, I was telling my staff of how important this concert was in the United States.

Go back more nearly 15-years ago, during my review for an anime OVA series titled “Macross Plus”, the series featured a virtual idol named Sharon Apple, which many would watch her perform live.

I wrote about how one of these days, we will probably see virtual idols and purchasing CD’s from them.  And a year later, it didn’t take long as the cyber idol Kyoko Date released her first single and I was so happy to purchase the single when it was first released.  The concept of using CG to have these characters dance, sing and even perhaps have them featured on a Japanese music show, I felt that technology was giving us a chance to go further in exploring those possibilities.

While virtual idols would continue to be featured on photo books and magazines, the exploration of virtual idol in music would not take place again until a decade later with “Space Channel 5” creator Tetsuya Mizoguchi and record producer Kenji Tamai working on a virtual band known as The Genki Rockets.

While the goal in the past was to strive for realism, it wasn’t until Yamaha Corporation created the Vocaloid 2 and Vocaloid 3 synthesizing technology using the humanoid persona created by Crypton Future Media.  People were creating their own music and music videos and posting on the popular Japanese video sharing website Niconico .  Also a video sharing website that cater to otaku taste in anime, computer games and pop music.

And immediately, people all over the world began experimenting with the voice samples of Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Rin and Len, Megurine Luka for their music, while others started to enjoy the look of the Vocaloid characters and began cosplaying as them at conventions.

But then merchandising for Vocaloid’s exploded.  From video games to nendoroids and action figures, many fans wanted anything related Vocaloid merchandise.  And in 2012-2013, the Vocaloid especially the Hatsune Miku name doesn’t seem to be heading south as Family Mart (a convenience store in Japan) began selling Hatsune Miku food items, t-shirts, action figures.  Suffice to say, people can’t get enough of Hatsune Miku and her Vocaloid friends!

And here we are in April 2013 with the first Hatsune Miku concert Blu-ray release in America.  Featuring her concert at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles from July 2, 2011

The concert features 3D imaging created by SEGA and supervised by Crypton Future Media, the concert was Hatsune Miku’s first in America and performing with a live band.

First, lets discuss the music.  For those who love idol pop will be entertained by Hatsune Miku’s music.  From her supercell hit “World is Mine”, her vegetarian cute pop song “Clover Club” and upbeat vegetarian juice song “Poppippo”.  Or the super quick wowaka track “Uramote Lovers” or even quicker “The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku”, Vocaloid fans get to enjoy the Kagamine Rin/Len track “Roshin Yukai” and Megurine Luka, Dixie Flatline track “Just Be Friends”.  Plus a duet with Hatsune Miku and Megurine Luka for “World’s End Dancehall”.

Featuring a total of 24 songs, fans will surely enjoy the excitement of the concert.

Will it appeal to Japanese music fans?  While the music of Hatsune Miku and music using the vocaloid is popular among  many fans worldwide, it’s a style that may or many not appeal to people.  Because the software uses the Vocaloid software, the software enables users to synthesize singing by typing in the lyrics and melody.  And the software uses technology with specially recorded samples digitally manipulated for each song.  Also, the songs are idol J-Pop, and if you like that, then chances are you will enjoy the music from this concert.

As for Blu-ray enthusiasts wanting to know how the picture quality and lossless audio is.  For picture quality, there were a good amount of cameras recording from direct center, above the audience, towards the audience, towards the Vocaloids and a camera aimed at each of the members of the band.

Picture quality was very good when focusing on the audience and also from the characters from a distance.  You can see the two projector lights from behind a black screen (which does show reflections of the audience at times) but while the 3D imaging looks very good, it only becomes a bit problematic when it focuses too close on the 3D characters because you can tell it’s a projection and it’s not crisp and clear.

But for the most part, editing is well-done, not dizzying and the lighting was also done very well.

The lossless audio is very good with a good amount of crowd ambiance filling the surround channels nicely.  While you do get a LPCM stereo lossless track, I opted for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack for the better dynamic range.

As for special features, you do get two special features.  One featuring Miku arriving to Los Angeles and the other is Danny Choo and the Vocaloid dancers.  The Aniplex Blu-ray release also comes with a live concert CD, digipak case and a 2-sided poster.

I just can’t help but be fascinated with the progress of virtual idol technology.  For me, the whole concept of virtual idols and also the Vocaloid Software has been quite intriguing for me and I have followed the development of virtual idols for many years now and to see how popular Hatsune Miku has become and how the character has been marketed, especially via videogames, Figma figures, nendoroids, clothing, food… Hatsune Miku is no doubt a phenomenon.  In my many years of covering Japanese entertainment, I have never seen anything like this before.  And it’s pretty fascinating and also exciting to see this happening.

Especially seeing Toyota do a national commercial for Hatsune Miku and a virtual idol concert with thousands of people in the audience in America screaming and singing along to the songs… That’s pretty awesome!

Overall, “Mikunopolis in Los Angeles [Happy to Meet You I’m Hatsune Miku] is a wonderful Blu-ray concert release for Hatsune Miku and Vocaloid fans.  Recommended!

supercell – The World is Mine feat. Hatsune Miku (a J!-ENT World Groove Digital Single Review)

May 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Japanese pop group and Hatsune Miku makes their US debut! Music utilizing the Vocaloid singing synth software may be an acquired taste for some, but the marketing and merchandise that has followed the popularity of this software and the character has been quite intriguing and the music from supercell to be different yet enjoyable.


GROUP: supercell feat. Hatsune Miku

DIGITAL SINGLE: The World is Mine (ワールドイズマイン)

LABEL: Sony Direct

CATALOG #: N/A

RELEASE DATE: May 11, 2011

  1. The World is Mine (ワールドイズマイン)

Miku Hatsune is possibly the biggest virtual idol to come from Japan.

And with recent commercials for Toyota showcasing the long blue haired character and a recent announcement of a concert in July in Los Angeles, needless to say that people in America have been wondering who Miku is?

Miku Hatsune actually one of the characters (or mascots) of the singing synthesizer application known as “Vocaloid” developed by Crypton Future Media using Yamaha Corporaton’s “Vocaloid” technology.

And then those who had the software started making their own songs using Hatsune Miku and then came figurines, video games and sure enough Hatsune Miku and music soundtracks.

And when it comes to the music utilizing the Vocaloid software and Hatsune Miku character, the Japanese group Supercell is best to known to utilize it.

The group supercell consists of 11 members, 10 that are illustrators and support  (these members work on the vivid illustrations, animation, design, and photography for album booklets, CD cases and music videos) and Ryo who creates the music and lyrics for the group was born in 2007 and were the first to utilize the Japanese video sharing site, Nico Nico Douga to promote their music and weres signed by Sony in March 2009.

The group have released two albums and three CD singles.  The first album selling more than 150,000 copies.   And the group has performed at concerts with Hatsune Miku on stage via a 3D hologram.

And now the group has released their first single in the U.S. courtesy of Sony Music Direct (Japan) titled “The World is Mine feat. Hatsune Miku” which is available on Amazon.com and iTunes and it is the song that can be heard on the Toyota USA commercial featuring Hatsune Miku.

As for the music, while the music of Hatsune Miku and music using the vocaloid is popular among  many fans worldwide, it’s a style that may or many not appeal to people.  Because the software uses the Vocaloid software, the software enables users to synthesize singing by typing in teh lyrics and melody.  And the software uses technology with specially recorded vocaloids of voice actors or singers.

So, it may be an acquired taste for some people.  For me, the whole concept of virtual idols and also the Vocaloid Software has been quite intriguing for me and I have followed it for years now and I have to admit that I am also interested in Hatsune Miku and how the character has been marketed, especially via videogames, Figma figures and Nendoroids. So, it makes me quite biased.

So, rather than tell people it’s worth it listening to or not, I’ll have you decide.

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