This is going to be one of my off-topic posts. I've been working on it for awhile, and I'd originally intended to put it in the Hatsune Miku fan club thread. But the truth is, its content really pertains to the vocal synth community as a whole, so I wanted to put it where everyone concerned might choose to read it.
Having said that, what I have to say DOES begin with birthday wishes for a certain twin-tailed vocalist.
I'd like to be able to post some kind of art, or maybe a song, in honor of today. But visual art isn't a skill I've developed, and a song would take too long to produce, to say nothing of the difficulty I foresee in capturing everything I'd like to say in such a condensed format. So I'd like to fall back on a skill that I've been working on for awhile--which results in the stream of text you'll find below. I hope you don't mind, and that you'll find it interesting enough to choose to finish.
In honor of Miku's birthday, I'd like to talk about why she, and the vocal synth community itself, is so important to me.
I encountered Hatsune Miku a little over two years ago. It was a difficult time for my family. It's better that I don't go into too much detail as to why. Suffice it to say that it concerns long-difficult inter-familial relations that came to a head in a several-months' period of confronting feelings of neglect, denigration, anger, and sadness; screaming, crying, and cursing were routine. Even though I had the benefit of a certain distance from these things, as they didn't directly concern me, they had a way of bringing up other things that did, as well as making me question some of the ideas that are most important to me--precious things I have faith in, but have regrettably never experienced. So aside from simply coping in the ugly, poisonous mess, the difficulties extended inside, too.
My personality is, for whatever reason, relatively durable. However, if thrown into an ocean, even a block of marble will erode eventually, and the permeating toxic, corrosive environment was doing its work.
If things had gone on as they were, I don't know what would have happened. There was an edge out there somewhere, and it feels like the name of that edge was "hopelessness." Would I have been strong enough, at the last moment, to resist falling over it? Having gone over, would I have someday been able to climb back? I'm not sure.
What did happen was Hatsune Miku. At the impetus of a fit of curiosity, really looking for some kind of distraction, I found a video of a CFM concert online. It happened to start with "World Is Mine." In her parody of a himedere, Miku's confidence, her self-assured and humorously self-centered arrogance, were exactly what the weakened me needed. And the reaction of the audience was just as important. Their joy was pure and earnest, and their camaraderie was palpable. I suppose Miku's home will always be Japan, and there's no denying the passionate regard of the Japanese for their virtual daughter. But, as evidenced by the concert I saw, those overseas who wait for years at a time to be in Miku's presence realize an acute, poignant, bittersweet longing that comes to its zenith at the moment of its satisfaction. You can hear it in their voices: a thrill and an adoration that approach some kind of love. They didn't demean the fact that Miku wasn't real; they relished her rejection of it. With awed, almost worshipful gazes; with screams of sometimes disbelieving ecstasy; with the fervent pumping of glow sticks, they encouraged her. With love for their diva--and almost unconscious defiance of the tab of difficulties and seemingly insoluble problems that every person seems to run up as they go through life--they prayed for her to continue claiming her impossible place on the stage moment by moment, a catalyst and a symbol for the inspiration, rekindling, or sustenance of their hope. The feelings of the crowd were something else that helped me find it within myself to regain positivity and persevere.
I spoke of camaraderie....
In a way, the vocal synth community is an "open-source" culture. In the vocal synth world, everyone has a chance to share their dreams, essentially themselves, with everyone in the world who is willing to listen, or to view their artwork or other creations. Aside from the cost of a computer and an internet connection, there are no barriers to entering the vocal synth community. And while I don't roam terribly far--I mainly hang out on VocaVerse Network, though I also go to SoundCloud, YouTube, Piapro, and some other places--the vast majority of the time, as fits an "open-source" culture, the people I've met have been kind; they've supported each other, both personally and in their work; they've accepted each other, even when people were different, liked different things, or believed different things. In a certain sense, just like Miku onstage, this culture defies the "real" world, with its too-widespread state of selfishness, intolerance, or just arbitrary cruelty.
People often have difficulty understanding why people in vocal synth culture get so passionate about it. They seem to argue that the very unreality of an animated performer, of a synthesized voice, diminishes the value of the entire thing.
But the synth characters and the music and other art made around them aren't entirely unreal. They're ideas. Ideas are real things, just like pencils or matchsticks. And ideas have value equal to how good or bad of an idea they are. Love and honor are just ideas, but their benefits for our health and our society are only two areas in which they contribute very practical worth. And the contributions of the artists in the vocal synth community, too, or even just the fans cheering at the concerts, have value also, equal to the positive contribution they make to the people around them.
I'm very aware of their positive contribution to me. Both two years ago and now, and in both a personal and a broader sense, that virtual girl with long turquoise twintails and the vocal synth community itself give me hope.
So please raise a glass, if you have one. Or go get one. Mine will be vegetable juice--
To Hatsune Miku, and all her friends. And to the community of artists, musicians, writers, and other passionate fans who support them and create for them. Very many, many happy returns.