Today, I am going to think ‘out loud’ again. Please bear with me.
213M Views in eight months.
25M Views in four weeks.
Yonezu Kenshi, currently one of the most popular singers in Japan. To some these numbers might not mean a lot, but it is quite a stunning number of views for a Japanese artist.
You’re probably thinking, so what? Well, unlike a lot of people think, his career didn’t start here:
But it started here, as the VocaloidP ‘Hachi’:
Even though it is no secret that Hachi = Yonezu Kenshi, a lot of people who are his fans now are not aware of his ‘lost’ history as a popular Vocaloid producer. Even when he posted DUNE for Hatsune Miku’s 10th birthday, it went unnoticed for many of his fans. Yet, it is through the vocaloids Hatsune Miku and Gumi that he gained his first fans.
As I am trying to look into Vocaloid and Hatsune Miku as a tool rather than an idol as well, this is quite important information. Especially as I am trying to prove this point by trying to visualise a trend that the image of Hatsune Miku and the voice(bank) Hatsune Miku are slowly losing their connection. Yet, Hachi used the image of Hatsune Miku and Gumi.
But rather than that, what makes the difference between Hatsune Miku and/or Gumi and Yonezu Kenshi? Between the music he put out as Hachi and the music he puts out as Yonezu Kenshi, there are only three big differences: Name, voice and image. His style in music remains surprisingly the same.
Although he changed his name, we do know that the person behind it, is still the same person. So in fact, even the name doesn’t change much. However, voice and image are very important. Especially as he did not use his own face in the first few videos as Yonezu Kenshi, but his own drawings.
This makes me wonder: To what extend is Hatsune Miku more virtual than an artist that became well-known through the internet? Of course, she is not a living person, but she basically does the same things: Singing songs, appear in MVs, do interviews, and social media platforms are her virtual world. But there always has to be a person behind the computer, programming her every word and movement.
Perhaps it sounds a bit depressing, but even an artist like Yonezu Kenshi might not be speaking his real truth as an everyday person when being interviewed as Yonezu Kenshi. To a certain degree, to keep private and business separated, he has to create a character that he is in front of his fans. May it be himself or his management that creates this character, ‘Yonezu Kenshi’ as an artist could be a creation that we all associate with the name, the voice and the image.
Of course I am not trying to say that Yonezu Kenshi is fake, or just a facade. What I am trying to say is, that I see a lot of similarities between the artist and the virtual idol, while those similarities are also the factors to which we decided that the virtual idol is virtual in the first place.
So, do you think they are very different?