It’s Christmas night where I am, and I was going to get down to wash my makeup brushes when I was listening to SHOOSE’s 威風堂々(Pomp and Circumstance), a song I picked up by accident while surfing for Kamiya Hiroshi-related videos on Youtube. Because their voices matched so well, it was easy to think that Kamiya-san was behind this. And then I found out that SHOOSE was a Nico Nico singer.
This means absolutely nothing until one researches the history of Nico Nico. And it is another crazy world that is probably only understood by those who use it.
To oversimplify, Nico Nico is fairly similar to other video-sharing platforms like Youtube, Daily Motion and Vimeo. Subscribers can upload and share their videos for others to feedback and approve. And recently, I’ve also noticed that many aspiring animators upload their short videos – many of them surprisingly high school students – and the quality makes for a pleasant, eye-opening experience.
Nonetheless, I believe that most people would know Nico Nico more as a launching platform for vocaloid diva Hatsune Miku to shake the game of music entertainment. Which is intriguing as much as it is scary, because Hatsune Miku is NOT A REAL PERSON. Her voice was taken from samples of seiyuu actress Fujita Saki, and her character was conceptualized by a software development firm. And yet, with her emerald green hair, giant doe eyes and sexy gams, she fills concert halls with men who fall head over heels with her like ants to their queen.
That’s a terrible analogy, but it is no less befitting.
I suppose with that came an avalanche of other inspired artists who decided that Nico Nico was the best platform to launch an online music career without revealing the real people behind those voices – well, at least the ones that are clearly real. Many of them rely on auto-tune technology, but as many as there are artificial beings, there is a formidable number of genuinely talented singers hiding behind their characters.
Supercell is probably the next best example. The man behind this 11-piece band, Ryo, launched songs on Nico Nico first before releasing their independent records, and there has been some modest success. EGOIST probably stands out the most among the members, having sung theme songs for a couple of anime series. I have not heard them sing live, but anyone who has heard The Beast with No Name『名前のない怪物』has got to acknowledge this talent.
One loophole I see in this business is saturation. Technology has made it possible to release new singers so quickly, no one seems to know how many there really are right now. One look at utaite.wikia.com was enough to disorient me. But the other – and possibly more dubious – is denying reality. The temptation to stay hidden behind a fictional character also creates a comfort zone to be famous with anonymity, and safety against unwanted attention. I imagine one feels good not to be judged based on their true appearances; they use the songs to their full potential to let the fans create their preferred image themselves. It’s a win-win for all.
I will continue to explore more of such singers in this world of unreal people, although I sincerely hope that these singers will come out from the shadows to reveal who they are – not as a character design, but living, breathing flesh like the rest of us.