The buzzer sounds, and the curtains rise; one, two, three, let us begin!
August 16, 2013 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Hitoshizuku x Yama (or Yamashizuku) are producers for vocaloid, a singing voice synthesizer program (previously on mefi). Their most recent compilation album, EndlessroLL, is available on Amazon and iTunes. They seem most fond of Kagamine Rin/Len, but have also released songs featuring other vocaloids. Suzunosuke often does the artwork for their videos. Examples of their works below. Warnings for: singing robots, high-pitched Japanese voices, catchy tunes, English subtitles, occasional violence, death, melancholy, some mildly NSFW content, and more than a dollop of drama. Click through the cut for more.

  • I've linked a bunch of favorites, but obviously this isn't their entire discogrophy, or all versions of their videos. I didn't even include some direct prequels/sequels/songs from other character's POVs. You can find more in the album links above, on Hitoshizuku-P and Yama's MyLists, in their wiki articles: Hitoshizuku-P, Yama, and by searching for "Hitoshizuku" on Youtube (tack "eng sub" or "english sub" on for translated videos).
  • You can find more artwork and videos that Sanosuke has provided illustrations for by checking her page on the wiki (linked above) and her Pixiv.
  • As a Kagamine Rin/Len birthday tribute, some talented fans whipped up an amazing animated video based on three of their most famous tragedies (one of which was Soundless Voice / Proof of Life).
  • While none of Hitoshizuku x Yama's works have been featured in official live concerts, Nico Nico Douga did hold their own unofficial concert. Bad End Night was one of the songs.
posted by anthy (9 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
So, I read the post and though, "Honestly I could think of about a million things I could do with my time that are better than watching synthesized Anime Fuelled J-Pop". Now that I've done the videos I'm reading the wiki and craving my own Vocaloid.

Technologhy and everything else aside, there's something about the storytelling aspect to all of these that is addictive and refreshing.
posted by analoguezen at 3:35 PM on August 16, 2013

This seems like the right thread to mention that an opera starring Hatsune Miku, The End, is playing in Paris this fall.
posted by mariokrat at 4:29 PM on August 16, 2013

Excellent post. Yes, people forget there are other singbots besides Miku. They need more love. It can't all rest on poor Miku's shoulders to save pop music.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:16 PM on August 16, 2013

I quite liked the thing with the ?vampire? musical anime people. The animation was nice.
posted by angerbot at 6:25 PM on August 16, 2013

I only watched the one (three) about being trapped in a mansion, but wtf? It's a cross between T-Payne, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Kumon math learning center.

Cool animation though.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:32 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's easy to dismiss these seldom-"concert-quality" voices (given the surplus of fine living, breathing voices). But, on the other hand, they fall into a category that's fascinated humanity since history began, automatons. (As do CGI characters.)

See for example the Robotics/Automaton Timeline. It asserts that the first successful speech synthesizer (though not an automaton) dates to 1791.
posted by Twang at 8:28 PM on August 16, 2013

The voices are actually pretty decent; I expected worse. I think they're aided by the relatively simple phonemes and syllabic structure of Japanese; it's hard to picture them singing in Chinese or German with the same kind of fluidity.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:47 AM on August 17, 2013

analoguezen: I was hoping to reach people like you with this post, because I'm not sure that most folks know that vocaloid encompases a wide variety of different things, and isn't only top-40s-type jpop music (though it is certainly that, too). It's like this humongous fanbase where the fans create the canon. There's something for everyone. And I've been a fan for several years and the well never runs dry.

Since I'm also mostly in it for the storytelling, I think I can probably give you some recs? I mean, our tastes will probably vary, but. You may want to also check out these producers: Mothy / Akuma-P, Sasakure.UK (see previous FPP), Jesus-P, Nem, Neru, Hachi (esp World's End Umbrella), Jin (of Kagerou Days fame), Wowaka. For individual songs: Kokoro & Kokoro Kiseki, Reboot, Hocus Pocus, World is Mine (don't be waylaid by the live concert, find the original PV), Secret (with Luka), The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku (and sequel), Sigh, Just Be Friends, Meltdown, Gemini, Eight Hundred, Hello Again, Ladies' Night, Cantarella, Soliel, 1imb0, Gekokujyo (Revolution), New Millenium/Utopia/A Faint Wish, Romeo and Cinderella (for best effect, Miku version, then Rin & Len version), Owata.

For something more on the weird side: Paradichlorobenzene / Antichlorobenzene, and anything by T.Komine. (Who is a troll, and is great fun. Contemplating doing an FPP on him at some point, because, wow, if you all thought the Night series was weird, wait till you get a gander at The Path To Eternal Happiness, I Found It!)

For vocaloid creepypasta, check out the TV Tropes Vocaloid page, they have a comprehensive Nightmare Fuel subcategory. I highly rec Kagome, Kagome; Alice Human Sacrifice; Trick and Treat; Dark Woods Circus; Wide Knowledge of the Late, Madness; Fear Garden; Hold, Release, the Rakshasa and the Corpse; Tarantula; and White and Black Ward. They also have some really great lists for other categories, like tear-jerker, etc.

Once you find something you like, clicking on related videos on Youtube actually works pretty well (and is sometime like a time capsule of what was popular at the time the video was posted). As does searching for the producer's name. vgperson, lordxwillie, AmeSubs, and Coleena Wu on Youtube seem to do very good English subs, though to be honest I wouldn't be able to tell if they were good translations. The subs flow well in English, though.

The Project Diva game videos have some suprisingly good songs/video adapations, too, and you can find English subs on Youtube. I'm particularly fond of some of their videos for Project Diva F (such as Tokyo Teddy Bear, Acute, World's End Dancehall, Sadistic Music Factory, Hachi Hachi Flowery Battle of the Kagamines, Remote Control, among others), and some of the recent (unsubbed) Arcade offerings (Deep Sea City Underground and the Deep Sea Girl adaptation).

re: your own vocaloid: English Miku's software is coming out at the end of the month. If you really do want your own vocaloid and you'd like to make songs in English, that might be your best chance at comprehensible English! (Maybe. Some of the demo songs are promising...others not so much.) Luka and Oliver are supposedly tricky, but also can do pretty well in English when wielded by masters (esp. in short spurts).

...and, uh, that went on longer than I'd been planning. Sorry! Hope it helps, anyway. :-)
posted by anthy at 10:43 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

sonic meat machine: there is at least one Chinese vocaloid; don't know much about it or whether it sings well, though. Probably more info on the wiki, and you could likely find videos on youtube? German, I don't know. I have heard some Spanish vocaloid songs and thought they were pretty, but I couldn't tell you if the pronunciation was correct.

From my experience, you seem to be right about Japanese phenomes being easier to work with. I mean, I'm by no means an expert (NO experience with the tech side of this whatsoever), but the vocaloid singing I've heard in English is very hit-and-miss. For some examples of some pretty good ones (where the vocaloids either sound like they have a foreign accent or sound very robotic, but you can clearly understand the English) look up Scarborough Fair Luka, Secret Luka, Once Upon a December Oliver, and Tarantula Oliver on Youtube. There are also many, many examples of understandable English being used in short bursts in otherwise Japanese songs, like in Luka's Just Be Friends, or Mitchie M's Ai Dee.

And then there's stuff like Dye, where you can't tell it's English unless you read the subtitles, the English version of World's End Dancehall, which had a bunch of English-speakers at a live concert going "is that English? I think that's English..." and the English version of Tell Your World, which is just awful. (Sorry fans, it's just awful. IMHO.)

I have a whole lot of hope that Miku's English voicebank will be better, but...not sure. The demos have been a mixed bag so far.
posted by anthy at 12:33 PM on August 19, 2013

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