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A Cartoon Character Is Performing at the Anthem. What’s the Deal With Hatsune Miku?

The Japanese phenomenon has colorful hair and a huge fanbase.
Illustration of Miku courtesy of The Anthem.

This Japanese singer is so popular, she can play one of DC’s biggest venues—but she doesn’t actually exist. Here’s the deal with the mega-successful digital performer. ­

A digital pop star? What’s that?

Created by the Japanese company Crypton Future Media ten years ago, Miku is essentially audio software that lets songwriters enter melodies and lyrics, then turns them into a recording voiced by actress Saki Fujita. Over time, the Miku character blew up into an internet phenomenon.

Weird. How big of a phenomenon?

The Miku wiki page, which tracks the most popular com-positions, lists more than 1,400 tracks. But Crypton global-marketing manager Guillaume Devigne says tens of thou­sands of songs have been released by fans around the world.

She’s just a voice, though. How can Miku perform live?

Anime artist Kei Garou created a teal-haired schoolgirl character to go with the voice. On tour, she’s brought to life as a hologram and backed by a live band. The songs are selected from user-generated tracks posted online. Want to hear your Miku tune performed by the actual (virtual) singer onstage? Better get to work.

Catch Hatsune Miku at the Anthem on July 12. Tickets range from $50 to $155.

This article appeared in the July 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

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Assistant Editor

Elliot joined Washingtonian in January 2018. An alum of Villanova University, he grew up in the Philadelphia area before moving to Syracuse to pursue a master’s in journalism. His work has also appeared on Syracuse.com, TheAtlantic.com, and Catholicnews.com. He lives in Eckington.