japan | MIT Center for Civic Media

Miku: Japan's virtual idol and media platform

On Saturday July 2, I attended an unusual live show, the US debut of a virtual idol from Japan. I think she can tell us something about civic media.

Miku Hatsune performed at the Nokia Center in Los Angeles, part of the festivities at Anime Expo. The sold-out concert drew over 4000 fans, many in costume, who screamed and waved glowsticks as Miku rose out of the floor, a “human size” image projected on stage alongside live musicians.

Miku crooned and pranced along the length of a 20’ long parabolic mirror, never breaking a sweat, as she tore through her set of mostly frenetic techno-dance pop. Video close-ups of her and other band members were projected beside the stage. She made a little small talk: “I’m Miku, nice to meet you.” She introduced the band (guitar, bass, keys, drums) and a six-piece orchestral string section. We cheered her on.

“We’re making history,” a young women sitting next to me said to her friend. It felt like it. And it forced me to rethink what I thought I knew about politics and about pop.