Meet Hatsune Miku, the ultimate manufactured pop star taking the world by storm

She's one of Japan's biggest singers, entirely computer generated and becoming a major celebrity all across the globe.

Adam Bolton
Adam Bolton
Adam Bolton is a contributor for CNET based in Japan. He is, among things, a volunteer, a gamer, a technophile and a beard grower. He can be found haunting many of Tokyo's hotspots and cafes.
2 min read
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Introduced as computer software, Hatsune Miku has become an international hit.

Crypton Future Media

Hatsune Miku is an immensely popular musician and major celebrity -- and she's entirely synthetic.

This past weekend was big for Hatsune. A new interactive figurine of her was shown at Wonder Festival in Chiba, Japan, which has fans excited thanks to its infectious singing and dancing. Then, over in Sapporo, video game developer Sega showed off more of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X, a new game that'll be released on Sony's PS Vita and PS4 systems in the coming months. This all followed a holographic performance on Friday night in front of a packed crowd in Berlin.

If Hatsune had to physically travel or sleep, she'd never be able to manage such a schedule.

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The first teaser trailer for a figurine by iDoll and Nendoroid racked up over a hundred thousand views in a week, showing the passion of Hatsune Miku's fans.


Hatsune Miku was originally a simple music application developed by Crypton Future Media for Yamaha's Vocaloid voice synthesizer program. Her voice (provided by voice actor Saki Fujita) and anime image proved a hit, massively boosting the sales of Vocaloid software. The character has since grown to have a life of its own -- almost literally.

Hatsune, who's forever 16, is now a cultural phenomenon in Japan, with her image being ubiquitous in the country thanks to animated TV shows, figurines and video games. Hatsune is also a fixture at racing events throughout Japan, having been spray painted onto race cars since the 2008 Good Smile Racing event. Most bizarrely, metal plates engraved with her image were attached to the Akatuki Venus space probe launched by the Japan Aerospace Agency in 2010. Not many other animated superstars can claim their fandom has taken them to Venus.

Her latest figurine, shown at the biannual Wonder Festival, is a collaboration between Yukai Engineering and toy manufacturer Nendoroid. Thanks to Yukai's iDoll technology, the figurine captures Hatsune's personality and perpetual cheeriness through synchronized song and dance. Yukai also boasted that the desktop singer can greet owners and crack one-liner jokes, as seen in a teaser video.

The Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X game, meanwhile, is expected to be launched in late March and features rhythm-based gameplay that has players tap out the beat of a song in progressively more complex ways. This will be the virtual starlet's 11th foray into the world of gaming since 2009, when the original Hatsune Miku: Project Diva was released.

The turquoise-haired starlet isn't popular just in Japan though. Her international fan base has been growing in recent years. She was an attraction at Berlin's Transmediale art and technology festival on Friday, but that's far from her first foray outside Japan. She's sung on the David Letterman Show, warmed up a Madison Square Garden crowd for Lady Gaga in 2014 and headlined concerts in cities around the US, with another American tour coming up in April.