OzAsia 2017 – The End – Keiichiro Shibuya and Hatsune Miku – The Dunstan Playhouse – 4K

By Tom Eckert


Hatsune Miku is what is known as a vocaloid, or a vocal android. Essentially a software program made manifest with a three-dimensionally rendered avatar. This software is something that any individual can own and then write lyrics and songs that will then be rendered in the voice of the vocaloid. Initially intended for professional music producers and interested amateurs, Hatsume Miku is at present the most successful pop star in Japan, living or otherwise. Not only this but also a fashion icon with a successful advertising career.

Whilst this may seem esoteric and something of a niche interest, the Japanophile population of Adelaide as well as some interested novelty seekers packed into the Dunstan Playhouse with more than a few cosplayers decked out as the animated teen idol.

The stage was a simple set of screens with a fine mesh screen from down stage up to the curtain rig, all to facilitate projection and the generation of a three-dimensional impression.

What followed was a rapture of three dimensional environments and effects directly from the distressed mind of Keiichiro. The images provided a raw emotional display that drew the audience in and served to build the character and imbue her with the suggestion of human experience.

This was all backed by the emotive and powerfully rhythmic electronic music of Keeichiro.

Themes were very fatalistic and morbid and the imagery reflected this. Much of the opera was concerned with questions of identity and the nature of the vocaloid itself, for example – would this personality cease to exist if people were to stop writing songs for it. Lyrics were idiosyncratically Japanese in that they were context heavy with very little explicit narrative detail.

One detracting factor was the propensity for sexualising a character that is described as sixteen years old. All the more disconcerting for the questions raised on agency and therefore what rights this character has. This is a disturbing trend in an age of humanoid robots and digital creations and the ability to manipulate them entirely to the whims of their owners in lieu of humans themselves.

A novel experience that’s raises a number of good questions in this modern age on our responsibility in the creation of artificial personalities and intelligences.

Kryztoff rating: 4K


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