Miss Monochrome currently airs on Crunchyroll Fridays at 11:30 am est. As of Fall, 2015, we are now in the third season, with episodes lasting under 10 minutes.
You no doubt have seen the videos on YouTube. A pig-tailed, CGI singer appears on a stage, belting out sugary pop songs with a heavily autotuned voice. At first, you're bobbing your head up and down, and you notice about five covers of the song you're enjoying, all done by Rin Kagamine, Luka Megurine, KAiTO, MEiKO and GUMI. You gaze into her gem-like blue eyes and you start thinking of how much it will cost you to cosplay as her for the next Con. And then it hits you.
This is NOT Miku Hatsune.
Now most of the time, Vocaloid fans are not happy to see a blatant and obvious rip-off. Oh sure, UTAU caught a lucky break with Teto Kasane, but that was because her creators were open and honest from the start. Teto-chan is supposed to be a parody of Miku. But Google Dong Fang Zhi Ji/Gardenia, the shameless Idol from China, and you'll no doubt see some pretty graphic comments from fans as young as twelve, not only calling for the swift demise of her programmers, but in which ways of torture will be acceptable.
So why then is Miss Monochrome, an obvious rip on Miku, so beloved by Miku's fans?
Well for starters, she was created and voiced by legendary actress Yui Horie. Horie-san has voiced a countless load of anime and video game characters, and is also a beloved Idol.
Another reason is that Miss Monochrome is just so pretty. Fans can't help but love her silver hair and (again) blue, gem eyes. Her sound is easy on the ears too, despite the heavy autotune.
But I think the real delight comes from the slice-of-life writing.
Miss Monochrome wants to be a famous Idol. She's a digital android, who requires AA batteries to survive. She originally had her own castle, but a fake-fan stripped her of her riches in the first episode, leaving her homeless and broke. She ends up living with Maneo, the manager of a convenience store. (She chose him because he's A MANAGER, and doesn't get that he's not a manager for a celebrity.) Her most loyal companion is a Roomba named Ru-Chan, who also survives off of batteries. In the second series, she also befriends rookie group Caramel, and eventually starts making connections in the music world.
As the four minute episodes go by, we see her trying too hard to become an idol, doing everything from children's shows to CD recording. In one episode, we see her pushing her way to getting her own Nendoroid figure, which later becomes more popular than herself. This episode became such an overnight hit, that GoodSmile actually made a real-life Nendoroid for Miss Monochrome and Ru-Chan!
And then there's Kikuko, a human idol. As of this writing, I'm only 7 episodes into season two, and while nothing has been said yet, it appears that in a past life, these two were friends, and then Kikuko died. We know Miss Monochrome was in her castle for an indeterminate amount of time and is missing chinks of her memory, but the mystery has yet to be solved.
What's great about this series is that it openly addresses the loft, often times unrealistic ideals we all come up with when we want to be famous. Sometimes in a person's haste to be famous and rich, we can come across as strange, crazy, and like we can't keep a coherent thought. Miss Monochrome acts out those desires perfectly, and seldom sees results. It's rare to have an idol come across as realistic, but after a few episodes, it shouldn't come as a total surprise that most of her fans can relate to her more than they can the usual, manufactured, human idols we have in real life.
Miss Monochrome is weird, oddly timed, and yet very comforting. In the current age where computerized idols are considered a scary thing (since most people assume they will kill the need for human singers) this is the right show to bridge the gap between humans and virtual singers.
Codename Sailor earth
Codename Sailor Earth is a lifelong anime and wrestling fan. IRL she is cartoonist Koriander Bullard, formerly Koriander Ake, a happily married Chicagoan. Her favorite anime is Sailor Moon. A baby in the late 80's, the first anime titles she ever saw were Speed Racer, Voltron and Robotech.