I realize that I’m pretty late to the scene here, but I’ve recently gotten into Vocaloid music. I’ve avoided it for the longest time because the pretentious music student within me dismissed the genre for its “mockery” of true vocal talent. Boy was I foolish, especially considering most popular contemporary music is arguably quite lacking in said talent. Computer programs singing music might not make sense to some, but then we remember that computers assist real singers anyway.
In order to gradually edge myself into the massive library of Vocaloid music, I started with songs using GUMI’s voice for two reasons. The first superficial reason is that I really like her design, from the short hair to the red goggles (which makes her look like Flygon). A more legitimate reason is that she has a nice tessitura (vocal range), compared to the more popular Hatsune Miku’s high voice.
So here we have my 5 personal favorite songs and accompanying music videos that feature just GUMI (actually only two feature her as a character in the video). Like much of Japanese subculture, these songs and videos are powered by fan groups. What I love about songs like these that we don’t really see in many other places is how they often have interesting stories to tell.
With a slick bass intro, we’re invited into a nice little rock number. This song’s about two characters (perhaps a couple) who are constantly at odds at each other, like a never ending series of chess matches. We can never have too many chess metaphors in media these days, right? I really like visuals in this video, from the checkered designs to bouncing equalizer and GUMI’s cool outfit. Also, her opponent looks a lot like a certain Code Geass character…
#4. “Houkago Stride” (After-School Stride)
This song throws you into its pace and never really lets go. But that’s pretty much what your first day of high school felt like (or will feel like), right? I really like the use of offbeats, like the “green, green, green,” and the “cha, cha, cha.” I can definitely see this song being used for an opening of a romcom featuring the spunky young girl in the video. So many characters are introduced in such a short period of time! Keep your ears peeled for her counting to 3 in French, Mandarin, and German.
#3. “Ringo uri no utakata shoujo” (“The Transient Apple Salesgirl”)
Now this music video has a fantastic story to tell. In a world where no one dies, two young kids find happiness when they both eat the “cursed” apples. By doing so, they give up their immortality (Bible references, anyone?). The use of symbols like the cogs, the sun and moon, and music box all represent the deadline for mortal humans. But as the narrative progresses, it turns out immortality is the true curse, not death. The song takes a folk aesthetic too, like a bard telling the story to a group of children. In the span of 6 minutes, this music video made me care about a romance more than most 13+ episode anime series. Seriously, this song encompasses a level of emotion that many songs with real singers lack.
#2. “Chikyuu saigo no kokuhaku o” (“The Earth’s Final Confession”)
If the organ intro isn’t an indication that this song is going to be deep, then I don’t know what to tell you. In a similar vein as the previous song, this one involves a girl who has been cursed with immortality and ends up being the last person on Earth. At the world’s end, she finds herself thinking about a special someone and realizes the reason she was given immortality. She finally confesses her love (hence “the earth’s final confession”) and disappears. The song’s energy is amazing despite the kind of morbid themes, and the melody is super catchy too (I find myself singing it all the time).
#1. “Setsuna Trip” (“A Momentary Trip”)
While maybe not as thought-provoking as other songs on this list, “Setsuna Trip” is really just pure fun. The use of bright colors is ridiculously good, and the rapid camera movement is exciting rather than disorienting (though it’d be okay it was since it’s dream world!). The song’s about living life in the moment (in small, momentary trips). Though, I can’t help but think that it’s also referencing acid trips. Oh well, taking life by the horns and pursuing your dreams is a much better message, I think. Also, this is one of the most realistic sounding (as in like a real singer) Vocaloid songs out there. It sounds better than singers who have to rely on autotune. For me, this is the definitive GUMI song.
- “Invisible” – Couldn’t include it because it had Rin Kagamine in it. The outfits in this song are really cool, though.
- “Life Reset Button” – One of GUMI’s more famous songs, but I don’t really like the video that much. It’s featured image of this post, though.
- “I’m Sorry for Being a Closet Otaku” – A really fun song, but it also has Len Kagamine singing in it, too. How awkward would it be to run into your dad at a nekomaid cafe?
What are your favorite Vocaloid music videos, and do you have any recommendations?