12 Moments of Anime #12: The Vocaloid Revolution and the Summer of AIR

by eternal on December 14, 2009

Air in Summer


Despite how convenient it might sound, I did not watch AIR this summer. I watched it during the summer of 2006, when I was inexperienced enough to not know the definition of the word eroge.

I did, however, partake in a certain OVA that seems to have all but disappeared over the years: Air in Summer. It’s not a particularly memorable story; in fact, it’s really just a more personal look at Kanna’s arc from the anime. It lasts for a total of two episodes – the same length as some battles in long-running shounen – and it doesn’t say much about anything.

However, that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.

What really got me about Air in Summer, and what made it good enough to make the 2009 Christmas countdown, was the fact that it’s downright pleasant. It feels like it’s been a lifetime since K-ON aired, and it’s been even longer since the KyoAni + Key combo graced my TV screen. Ryuuya’s sharp wit, Kanna’s endearing clumsiness, and Uraha’s carefree ara ara~ personality are all staples of the anime adaptations of Key games, and they’re traits that I love more than a lot of things. Witnessing all of my favourite aspects of some of my favourite anime, written on top of a surreal setting with a vaguely bittersweet atmosphere, was undoubtedly one of my most pleasant memories of anime this year, with or without a plot.

– – –

As for the Vocaloid Revolution I mentioned in the title, I wonder if revolution is truly the right word to use. Our lovely idol Miku is already two and a half years old – plenty old enough for her popularity to catch on. Maybe it’s only because the latter half of this year was my first experience with Vocaloid-literacy, but I can’t help but feel that the Vocaloid subculture is becoming ever more mainstream. While Miku and her fellow electronic pop stars will always be more known in Western fandom for their endless pages of fanart, the release of Project Diva combined with the birth and growth of blogs like Vocaloidism, Polymetrica, and even a fairly comprehensive wiki, the word “revolution” might be fitting after all.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Fang-tan December 14, 2009 at 9:49 pm

I think I watched AIR around that time. Hah, even my best friend who doesn’t even watch anime asked me if I’d seen it when she came over this weekend. I facepalm’d and told her ofc. Although I never really enjoyed Air in Summer as much to be honest.

I remember hating Miku when she first came out because she flooded pages of Danbooru. Oh, how things have changed. *hugs Miku nendoroid*


Shance December 15, 2009 at 12:38 am

You totally forgot to mention O’Herman’s site. Superior /miku/ board is superior. Too bad it’s closed to a select few now.

So where’s our Project Diva 2 now?


chii December 15, 2009 at 2:25 am

I think i watched air in 2007 . didn’t overly enjoy it but i do think it’s the best of the rest of the key stuff :P


polymetrica December 15, 2009 at 3:12 am

Whoa, thanks for mentioning my sad enclave of text that doesn’t matter, even though it’s not entirely centered on Vocaloid stuff (Or is it…) There’s also Kyouran Kyoudai and a few other blogs that make Vocaloid their primary subject, but the recency of establishment for all those blogs (including mine…) does really seem like Vocaloid is becoming more mainstream nowadays, especially in the international scene. Even people I know in rl lyf seem to know what Vocaloid is.

It really can’t be helped, though, since it’s just exploding in popularity, where new songs are released EVERYDAY on niconico, and there are at least uh, way too many songs out to count every month. It never fails to surprise me when I listen to an “old” Vocaloid song, look at the date, and find out that it was posted last month. Oh internet, why does time progress so fast on you…

I’m still not convinced that Vocaloid is wholly becoming a revolution, though, despite it’s multiplying popularity, since it’s not really changing the entire genres or something. I see it as more like a tool for helping illustrators, composers, and video makers get their name out to the mass public through a super-popular medium that everyone has their eyes on, rather than slowly “revolutionizing” (or slowly replacing) old tactics such as human vocals or other subjects of artwork.

Although, Vocaloid most likely won’t fade out anytime soon since the product of Vocaloid-related things are limited only by one’s imagination. Except for those official costumes which so much artwork feature, but for some reason they never look old…maybe.

Sorry for tl;dr-ing all over your lovely, splendid page. Just step over and ignore this mess if it’s not too much trouble.


ETERNAL December 15, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Haha, no worries, I love a good tl;dr :P

I don’t think the Vocaloid technology is too revolutionary in itself, but like you said, it’s a powerful tool with a lot of potential. The thing is, the more popular it becomes and the bigger the subculture grows, the more people (creators and fans) will benefit from it. I think Project Diva is a good example: who would have guessed that a game developer would design a rhythm game based on a musical composition program? I don’t see too many Cubase or Sibelius rhythm games out there. But when you have stuff like that bringing Vocaloid into the mainstream, it attracts more attention and rewards the skilled creators. Supercell, enough said.

But yeah, I really just put the word “revolution” in the post title because it sounded nice lol. It’s an exaggeration, but at the same time, the subculture is definitely growing, and the more it grows, the more opportunities people will have to make use of the technology – and in that sense, it’s changing our preconceptions of doujin music and J-Pop as a whole.


bluemist December 16, 2009 at 4:10 am

Vocaloid certainly changed my appetite for music this year. Indie or fan-made music wasn’t in my radar at all until Miku came to me. The quality of songs sometimes far exceeds that of commercial works. There is of course a load of crap out there too as well as multiple duplicates, it is quite hard to keep track of the music because there’s so many out there and new ones just sprout every day. I can only muster listening to the weekly ranking. Your blogs do help a lot too.


vocaloidluver March 10, 2010 at 11:34 pm

hey is this a anime or a manga i get the whole virtual singer thing iv herd that a lot but but iv seen vids on their life and stuff if someone knowes tho whole story plz tell i wanna know alli can!!!!


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