How Project Diva turned me into a Vocaloid Fan
I remembered the days when Vocaloid suddenly grasped the attention of otaku and music listeners all around the world. While I tried listening to a few of their songs, the critic in me kept finding flaws – the voice is too robotic, the “raps” sounds like a radio being fast forwarded, typical Jpop, etc… I also didn’t know just which song should I listen to, since there are just so many releases. I had a somewhat general positive reception on them, but for the most part, I remained neutral.
As most would probably know by now, I’m not the type to play games as soon as they were released, so I jumped into the Project Diva bandwagon quite late. Project Diva is a series of rhythm game that used Vocaloid music, paired up with Vocaloid music videos. As I had been listening to anime OSTs more, I thought Project Diva might be perfect – I can get both my musical and anime fix in a single game, and I do like what I saw in the Project Diva F demo on my PS3.
After getting the game and started playing it, something changed-my perceptions on the Vocaloid series. Constantly replaying my favorite tracks, watching the videos and fawning over Miku – it took awhile to notice that I had become a fan, effectively breaking the neutrality I had always felt towards Vocaloid. Addicted, I immediately played the older Project Diva games in the series too, namely Project Diva and Project Diva 2nd on the PSP (at the time of this post, I still haven’t started Extend), both incredibly fun titles as well.
At this point, I had already gotten used to the robotic sound, and even considered as one of it’s unique sound. After diving into the fandom, I had also no longer see the songs produced by Vocaloid as “typical Jpop”, the wide array of songs Vocaloid consists of is amazing – pop, rock, techno, dance, ballad, jazz, blues, enka, oriental and the list goes on. It’s capability to just go into any genre of music is probably the fact that Vocaloid is completely fan-influenced. The fans make the music, and it’s through the hard work of the thousand of fans around the globe that had turned the Vocaloid idols into what they are now.
I think one of the reason why the Project Diva series has such a huge impact with my views on Vocaloid is that it promotes interactivity with the fandom. Unlike before when I was just listening to random Vocaloid songs from god-knows-where, Project Diva already handpicked the best, more common and popular tracks for you. In a way, you can say one of the main roles in Project Diva is to recommend the best songs out of the tens to thousands of songs. It’s ironic how for me, it feels kinda reversed. As I listen to Vocaloid songs before I even play them, when I was playing the original Project Diva on the PSP, some songs had me thinking “Oh! This song! I heard it before.”
Additionally, the Project Diva series also helps me familiarize with each of the characters. Admittedly, I couldn’t differentiate their voices before, but that changed after playing Project Diva. Obviously, there are a lot of Miku songs, but there are songs dedicated to other Vocaloids too, like Luka, Rin and so on. There are even collaborations where two or three Vocaloids sung in a track, and especially with the added videos, it’s very easy to differentiate their voices, to finally know just which Vocaloid sings which segment, and with due separation, it’s easy to familiarize with each Vocaloid’s pitch and tone. I also like how each Vocaloid idols seem to have their own respective fashion tastes. For example, Rin seems to like wearing hot pants, while Luka seems to favor mature dresses. Miku herself is an embodiment of Zettai Ryouiki.
I become such a fan of Vocaloid and the Project Diva series that I ended up putting the game series in my list of favorite games – certainly a niche series to be added in typical favorite game lists. At this moment, I still can’t compare to the more hardcore Vocaloid fans of cause, but it’s a good start nonetheless. I think this tells me the importance of availability and interactivity. So Japan, localize your stuffs! I honestly wouldn’t had been such a fan of Vocaloid now, if not because of the localization of Project Diva F, my first game of the series, and the main root that turned me into a Vocaloid fan. In fact, I had a feeling quite a number of non-Japanese fans of Vocaloid also entered the Vocaloid bandwagon through these Project Diva games too.
P.S: So jelly of people watching Miku concerts…