Japanese-pop star Hatsune Miku has millions of YouTube hits, sells tickets to her concerts at $76 a pop and has adoring fans from all around the world. She’s also not human:

Created by Crypton Future Media, Miku is the most popular avatar created to sell Vocaloid 2, the singing synthesizer application originally developed by Yamaha. In Japan, it is common to create a character associated with software, and at first glance, Miku may seem like little more than an animated mascot, not unlike the Pillsbury Doughboy or the Snuggle fabric softener bear. But Miku inspires an unparalleled creativity.

Instead of passively worshipping her, fans have mobilized into an interactive artistic community. Using Vocaloid 2, they write melodies and lyrics, sharing their songs on YouTube or the Japanese equivalent, niconico (“smilesmile”). Since Miku’s ‘birth’ in August 2007, amateurs have used her likeness in hundreds of thousands of songs, illustrations, videos, games, animations—and one rather creepy, dead-looking Miku robot. She’s a cosplay (costume role play) favorite at anime conventions and elsewhere.

“I Sing the Body Electric.” — Margaret Wappler, Los Angeles Times Magazine

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