Vocaloids (from "vocal" and "android") are music synthesizing programs based on real human voice samples and technology created by the Yamaha Corporation. There are currently 37 vocaloids (Rin and Len count as one product instead of two); and fans have created personalities for each character based on official art (some have no official art) and voice. Fans have also created characters based on official releases, such as Neru Akita and Haku Yowane.
To use a Vocaloid, one simply has to type in the lyrics of the song of his choosing as well as the melody for said song, although a great deal of fine-tuning is usually necessary to have the result sound natural. Vocaloids have become so popular that an official unofficial manga adaptation, Hatsune Mix, was created, telling the trials and tribulations of the Crypton-produced Vocaloid family: Kaito, Miku Hatsune, Meiko, Rin and Len Kagamine, and Luka Megurine.
Vocaloid has recently taken major steps to becoming Serious Business. Flagship character Miku Hatsune has become a fully-fledged Virtual Celebrity, with an album featuring her work (composed by synthesizer band Supercell) nearly topping the Japanese music charts at No.2, and Miku herself putting on a live concert at Animelo Summer Live 2009. (Her "live" performances involve her image rear-projected onto a glass screen and sharing the stage with a live band.)
Toyota also began an ad campaign for their 2011-model Corolla, starring Miku herself; it was subsequently revealed that Toyota sponsored Miku's first overseas appearance -- a live concert in Los Angeles at Anime Expo 2011.
In the 2010 Concert, Rin, Len, and Luka made debuts with even better renderings. In addition, the Vocaloid song Black Rock Shooter (which features said character, created by artist huke) has inspired an official anime OVA of the same name, which was produced by animation studio Ordet (ex members of Kyoto Animation) and was released on 2010. Another popular song, "Kokoro" seems to be getting its own musical. "Daughter of Evil", in turn, got its own theater play and later a manga. Recently, "Cantarella" got a musical, too. The song "Kagerou Days" also experienced a burst of popularity, enough to get the song its own serialized manga and a novel written by the song's own producer.
Miku had yet another overseas concert in Singapore during the Anime Festival Asia 2011 on November 11, 2011. In addition, during 2012's Miku Party concert, Kaito and Meiko made appearances.
Note: The following is only for tropes related to official Vocaloid material. For tropes on song, fanon, and other fan works, go here.
- Adaptation Expansion: The manga.
- Ascended Fanboy: In a way. Popular Nico Nico Douga singer Piko now has his own Vocaloid, Utatane Piko, courtesy of Sony Music, besides being a professional singer himself.
- American Kirby Is Hardcore:
- The homepage for the Miku Corolla advertising campaign. It seems like whoever drew her doesn't like certain ideas of cuteness... Toyota changed her appearance later, perhaps bowing to pressure from disappointed fans.
- Crypton's Piapro website held a contest for an official "American" Hatsune Miku design last month, and declared a winner (made by Exiled Artist). Word of God indicates it will be used "in a commercial basis or in projects related to Miku's next concert". It was eventually used in the March 9, 2012 39's Giving Day concert when she performed Po Pi Po.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Most of Project DIVA - either clothes or room items. Except the clothes are called "modules".
- Animated Actors
- Anthropomorphic Personification: One of the main reasons why Vocaloids are so popular.
- The Cameo: Miku's first anime appearance was one of these in Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, as one of the people auditioning to be Meru's voice. Rin, Len, Kaito, and Meiko also appear in the same episode briefly, waiting in line for the auditions, however their coloring is off.
- Catgirl: SeeU, the new Korean Vocaloid from the V3 series, has cat ears on her headset.
- Iroha Nekomura. She has a Hello Kitty design, with a big cat helmet and little cat-eared speakers, among other things. Her last name even means "Cat Village".
- Cell Phone: Neru's trademark.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: Many of the earlier Japanese Vocaloids had one dominant, unique color associated with them (Meiko, Kaito, Miku, Rin/Len, Luka, Gakupo, Gumi); with the influx of new Vocaloids, this concept has largely been abandoned.
- Cover Version: If the song you're thinking of exists, they've probably covered it.
- Crossover: Thanks to Hajime Katoki, Miku is now also avalaible in Fei-Yen cosplay outfit, and Fei-Yen in a Miku Hatsune Shout-Out version.
- Curtains Match the Window: Several Vocaloids have this going on; namely Kaito, Miku, Sonika, Miki, Kiyoteru and Ryuto.
- The Cutie: Aoki Lapis, the new V3 "Whisperloid."
- Detached Sleeves: All of the V2 Cryptonloids have these, the same with most if not all their derivatives.
- Kaleidoscope Hair: Sonika.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Gakupo Kamui. His katana is even said to be somehow related to his musical ability.
- Kayfabe Music: At live concerts, the band is real enough, but the lead "singer" is a projected image (and not really a singer at all).
- Loads and Loads of Characters - There's quite a few already and the number is only growing. And that's not even getting into the fanmades and genderbends. Note that this number increases exponentially. In 2010, the number of Japanese Vocaloids could be counted on both hands, and the number total were still easy to keep track of and to recite without issue. By the time 2012 arrived, the number had almost tripled.
- Loads and Loads of Loading: The PSP version of Project DIVA games are plagued with this. Especially if you have the DLCs installed, as it needs to check the license everytime the list of DLC items are loaded.
- Meaningful Name: Most official and fan characters. The 'Hatsu' of Hatsune (Miku's last name) means first; she was the first japanese Vocaloid2 character. The 'Kagami' part of Kagamine (Rin and Len's last name) means 'mirror'; Crypton once described them as mirror images instead of being twins, although they backtracked on that. The 'Meguri' of Megurine (Luka's last name) means circulating/revolving; a reference to her bilingual capabilities. Furthermore, the 'ne' at the end of Kagamine, Hatsune, and Megurine means 'sound'. Akita Neru means 'I'm tired; going to sleep' and Haku Yowane means 'weak-willed words'. In fact, the name "Akita Neru" was coined because of the troll who created her using the phrase akita, neru ('I give up; going to sleep'), as a reaction of frustration about the difficulty of using the VOCALOID software.
- Lily's voicebank was sampled from the singer Yuri Masuda. "Yuri" means "lily" in Japanese and similarly, Gakupo, voiced by Gackt (pronounced Gakuto) and Gumi, voiced by Megumi Nakajima. Utatane Piko, voiced by Nico singer Piko.
- Mismatched Eyes: The male vocaloid Utatane Piko has one green and one blue eye, which can be clearly seen on his official page
- Moe Anthropomorphism - Probably one of the reasons why Vocaloids are popular.
- One Mario Limit: A visual variant. Any other character with big twintails of a similar color will be confused with Miku.
- Only Six Faces
- Opposites Theme Naming: Rin and Len Kagamine. Their names are a pun on the words "right" and "left", respectively.
- Rapunzel Hair: Miku, and to a lesser extent Luka, Haku and Neru. Fanartists tend to draw it even longer, to the point of it being longer than the character is tall.
- Ridiculously-Human Robots: So human, in fact, that you'll soon forget that they're robots.
- Especially the V2 Appends and most of the Vocaloid-3's.
- Except in the cases of Piko and Miki; both have robotic joints and the former has what appears to be an equalizer as part of his left eye. Oh, not to mention the tail-like USB cable.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Between Len and Rin.
- This is somewhat emphasized in the Append artwork; Rin's outfit is mainly light with some darker elements, while Len's is mainly dark with some lighter elements. And the boxart.
- Theme Twin Naming: Rin and Len are puns on "R" (right) and "L" (left).
- Virtual Celebrity
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Kaito, Gakupo, Miku, Luka, Gumi, Sonika, Miki, Iroha and Gachapoid's human form.
- Zettai Ryouiki: Hatsune Miku and, subsequently, many other female (and sometimes male) Vocaloids.
- (On the Internet, anyway. Even with it having some recent extensions into the real world, Vocaloid is still a niche thing, even to Japanese who identify as Otaku, with several of them not even knowing there are more Vocaloids than Miku Hatsune)