Hatsune Miku: Expo in New York is available legally for FREE on Crunchyroll. Premium users can watch the concert ad-free while free users will see several ads and reminders to shut off AdBlock. The concert runs for one hour, 42 minutes in English and Japanese.
Crunchyroll just rolled out their second Vocaloid concert onto the streaming site and Roku channel. A flashback to 2014, the Hatsune Miku Expo hailed from the legendary Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, once home to the now defunct but still talked about Extreme Championship Wrestling. (ECW)
For those who don't know, Vocaloid is a DVD-ROM software made by Yamaha and Crypton, featuring different "singers" which you can program yourself. Most of the characters resemble anime and manga drawings, while others are a combination of graphic design and real-life models. While not the first in the series, the most famous Vocaloid is Miku Hatsune, an eternally 16 year old android from the future with a heart of gold. SEGA (yes, THAT Sega) programs a CGI model for the more popular Vocaloids, and animates the character singing and dancing onto a screen, which is then bounced off of another screen, giving the illusion of there being a live hologram on stage. (This is the Pepper's Ghost effect, first used in the 1800's) The concerts originated in Japan, but now also run all over Asia and more recently in America, though the events are limited to very large cities.
The popular singers chosen for New York were:
Miku Hatsune: The 16 year old DiVA with a sweet smile.
Rin Kagamine: A troubled 14 year old with a sharp sound.
Len Kagamine: Rin's mirror image. Len appears as Rin's clone, mirror image, alternate/gender swapped self, twin brother, boyfriend or as her secret lover, with the latter having them related by blood only 50% of the time.
MEiKO: A 26 year old woman who drinks heavily and is often treated as a "mom" type because at age 26, she's so "old".
KAiTO: A 20 year old male, often seen as a boyfriend to Miku or MEiKO.
Luka Megurine: A 23 year old woman, often depicted as very sexual. She is also seen as the off and on girlfriend of Miku and KAiTO.
The concert is meant to be an introduction of the genre to new listeners who maybe have heard their kids/friends mention Vocaloid, but maybe haven't experienced it before. It was also a chance for Crypton to showcase Miku's then-new English voicebank, a new feature that earned her a spot on the David Letterman Show just before the concert was filmed.
If this is your first Vocaloid concert, you may be shocked to find out that while a majority of the songs are written for the teeny-bopper variety, most of the concert-goers are fully grown men between the ages of 30-45. Oh sure, you can hear the cosplaying females scream for Len and KAiTO, but they're quite few and far between.
While most of the Japanese concerts have allowed the Vocaloids to dive into some pretty heft subject matter, many of the songs chosen for the New York crowd were largely safer choices, mostly culled from the Project DiVA and Project Mirai games, which were just starting to pop up in US stores when tickets first went on sale. Many YouTube favorites made the song list, but since most were in Japanese, only the most hardcore fans were caught singing along, while the rest of the crowd just nodded their heads and shook their light-up leeks. (Spring onion. Whateves.)
If you're a parent of a young Vocaloid fan, please keep reading.
Sharing the World: This is Miku's debut song in English for the concert. It's extremely high-pitched, in an effort to cover up the fact that Miku's English Append has her over-pronouncing her "r" sounds. Still, it's a sweet song about the self-aware software asking you to use her sound to express yourself. It's meant to bridge the gap between humans and Vocaloids and reminds you that they're not here to replace us, but to work with us.
Senbonzakura: This is a sweet melody about the Meiji Restoration of Japan of 1868. It's a historical song that features Miku sweetly singing about people being beheaded. (Wait, WTF??) For the concert, they chose to animate Miku playing with Sakura petals, which was a great idea, since the video games show her singing this song in militaristic, and slightly communistic garb. I can't see the latter fitting well with a rowdy New York crowd.
Look this way, Baby/Kocchi Muite Baby: A sassy song, SEGA again decided to take the safe route and keep Miku in her normal grey costume. Good thinking, as the video game shows her singing this in a crop top, hot pants and cowboy boots, while teasing the camera up and down her thighs and talking about keeping a boyfriend thinking about sex. The concert cleans this up to a basic song-and-dance number, more age appropriate visually for the 16 year old, but still an inappropriate song.
Love Colored Ward: Miku changes into a cute candy-striper nurse costume for this number about a "nurse" who sneaks out in the middle of the night when her "master" (Oooooh this is NOT an appropriate term) feigns illness, so he can invite her to his room. When he kisses her, she runs out screaming in shock. SEGA chose to animate her looking innocent and happy for this one.
Colorful X Melody: Rin Kagamine joins Miku on stage to sing a cheerful-sounding ditty about two young girls falling in love with each other, fighting and then working things out, while picking out which crayon color would perfectly describe their multi-faceted relationship. Deep enough?
Fire Flower: The girls leave and are replaced with Len Kagamine, who sings this very summery song about what else? A summer romance!
Butterfly on your Right Shoulder: Straight up, this is a song about a boy who has a one-night stand at a party, and the next day feels completely empty for having had sex with a stranger, and he cries, contemplating suicide. This was originally sung by Rin, but Len's youthful sound seems to be the more popular. In the video game, Len is caught singing this in a skin-tight leather costume, but here, SEGA kept him in his more age-appropriate sailor suit, masking how unreasonably ADULT this song is.
Melancholic: Rin returns to sing a confusing song about a girl who can't tell the difference between being unhappy and being in love with a boy she can't seem to forget. Auto-tune is over-used on an already computerized songstress.
Kokoro/Heart: Well you can just rip out my heart and stamp on it, now can't you, Rin-chan? This extremely sad song is about a robot girl who learns to express emotions 100 years after her creator dies, and her want to sing for him in heaven. But just as she starts to make it, she has a short and dies. Rin stays in her sailor shirt and hot pants for the concert, while the video games show her in more robotic clothing.
Glass Wall: Another Auto-tune song but this time with dub-step, Miku sings in English this time, expressing her frustration at the fact that no matter how we see her, we are always separated by a glass wall in the form of her concert screens or our usual phone, tablet and computer monitors, and her seeing our relationship with her as long-distance.
Torinoko City: While this song has lyrics about a girl being abandoned in a forgotten city with little more than a Twitter account to her name, it's really a metaphor for those who have tons of "friends" online, but nobody in real life, and the loneliness of the modern girl, seeking companionship. Here, Miku is again in her usual costume. The video games have her in more of a sporty outfit, while the MP3 cover has her with super short, navy blue hair, glasses and a white school uniform with muted blue tones.
Hold Release Rakshasa and Carcasses: Long enough title or what?? Miku struts across the stage in a tiny, sexy Miko (Shrine Maiden) costume, to sing about child prostitutes in ancient Japan, who one day snap, fight back against the adult monsters who put them in this predicament, and then abort their unwanted children before puberty strikes. Considering how ADULT this song is, I can see why they decided to leave this one in Japanese.
Romeo and Cinderella (Short Version): Plain and simple, this is a song about Miku sneaking out ofn the house in the middle of the night, and losing her virginity to an older boy (actually, a man, the real music video shows KAiTO) and the guilt she ends up with for lying to her parents. This ADULT song has it's own action figures with Miku either being seen in a princess costume or age-inappropriate lingerie, but here, she returns to her usual costume.
Piano x Forte x Scandal: MEiKO only gets ONE song in the whole concert, but they chose a nice Jazz piece. The song is about music and a midnight tryst, while the video games usually show MEiKO as a cat burglar. Here however, she's in her original costume, though I'm not thrilled that for the American market, they made her arms and legs much more skinny.
Pane Dhiria: Shockingly, KAiTO also sees himself with only ONE song. A high-pitched and fast song, he sings about performing in front of God.
Parades: A haunting song using Miku's Dark Append voicebank, it's a song about footprints disappearing in the morning sun, and how short our time really is. Dark much?
PoPiPo (Remix): Changing things up from the bleak tones is a hyper remix of Miku's Vegetable Juice anthem.... no really, it's about the virtues of drinking a V8 once in a while.
The Snow White Princess Is: This is a song about a self-aware Snow White, who realizes she's been poisoned by the wicked queen, and she is trapped in a coffin, in a deep sleep. She prays frantically for the prince to kiss her and break the spell, before she completely dies, as she realizes her body is shutting down.
After this song, Miku thanks the crowd and asks them to stick around for a surprise, which happens to be...
Just Be Friends: LUKA! In her start of two songs, the first of which is an English song about breaking up. The relationship was violent and out of control, but she still just wants to be friends. Um. Nope.
Luka Luka Night Fever: A catchy dance hit about Luka seeing you watch her on Nico Nico Douga, and her offer to let her into your home so she can help you dance away your troubles.
After an introduction to the real-life band behind the Vocaloids, Miku hits the stage again.
Secret Police: A bubbly rock hit that serves as a warning against the NSA and other privacy deleting problems, such as SOPA and CISPA.
Yellow: Miku then changes to an inappropriate costume, complete with white hot pants and a yellow frock that is litterally falling apart. But behind this is a sweet song about Miku wanting to cheer you up when you're down.
The World is Mine: Miku's signature song sees her back in her normal costume, singing from the perspective of a tsundere (hot and cold) girl who demands extra attention from a boyfriend that really acts like he's not that interested in her.
Melt: A high pitched song, Miku sings about first love and the joy of having those feelings reciprocated.
Tell Your World: Just like Sharing Your World, this high-pitched Japanese song is about Miku, asking you to use her to express yourself, and features Miku in a paint-splattered outfit.
Minna Miku Miku ni Shite Ageru/I Will Make Everyone Miku Miku: A super catchy song sees Miku return to her normal costume while singing about how impatient she is while waiting for you to install her Vocaloid DVD-ROM.
Starduster: And we end the concert on a bit of a downer. Miku sings about having run away light-years into space after a misunderstanding, and how she needs our love to bring her back.
The New York Expo concert was a good introduction to Vocaloid, but could have been better with a few more happy songs, and certainly a few more age-appropriate songs for Miku, Rin and Len. Still, for those who couldn't afford the $150+ tickets for front row, this is the next best thing.