Let's hope Hatsune Miku is the future of pop.
Last year on a trip to Japan, the character bombarded me. Arcades, shopping complexes, subways, television programs and convenience stores were polka-dotted with her glowing face. If you wanted something, chances were it came emblazoned with Miku branding, be it a toy figurine or a hyper-sexualized pastry.
How had someone, or something, become so popular across the world, and yet my colleagues and I had hardly heard of it? My curiosity led, as I suspect it does with many Miku fans, to a bit of obsession. The littlest bit of investigation reveals Miku isn't just a pop star; she's a bold improvement on the way we engage with intellectual property. She's what Justin Bieber, Mickey Mouse and other western icons aren't and can't be: available to the public.
Last month, as an experiment, the video team and I took a shot at explaining who and what Miku is in the context of American pop stardom. To Miku fans, this will probably seem familiar, but hopefully for those readers who are as puzzled as I initially was, this will introduce a bizarre, wonderful, creatively empowering character. (Watch on YouTube)
And if you'd like to know more about Miku, Wired ran a smart feature in late 2012.