“Unofficial Hatsune Mix” Manga ReviewWednesday October 4th, 2017
Description (from the back)
Who’s that girl with the long green ponytails you’ve been seeing everywhere? It’s Hatsune Miku, the Vocaloid—the synthesizer superstar who’s singing your song! She’s a global cyber celebrity and a cosplay favorite at conventions. Now Miku’s original illustrator, KEI, brings you Hatsune Miku: Unofficial Hatsune Mix—an omnibus manga of the musical adventures (and misadventures!) of Miku and her fellow Vocaloids Rin, Len, Luka, and more—in both beautiful black-and-white and charming color!
This is an omnibus (collection) version of Keis Manga Unofficial Hatsune Mix, originally filed in Jive’s Shounen Manga magazine Comic Rush between 2008 and 2010. Each “book” it contains begins with the original color pages and illustrations, which is really well given Kei’s pastel-colored watercolor-like illustrations.
On the whole, Kei, the original artist who designed the characters for the Vocaloid 2 software, shows that he can do more than just the static advertising art we are all used to for Vocaloids. In the manga we get the feeling that Hatsune Miku and friends move, giving them much more personality.
Keis’s drawings are amazing in general, the style is clear and the degree of detail in drawings brilliantly without being rubbed or too much (as any of the shoujo mangas suffer from). Certain scenes may seem a little messy structured, especially in the first chapters, but it will get better along the way. It is clear that Kei has many years of experience in the media – but primarily as an illustrator.
It is hard not to have some kind of prior knowledge of the Vocaloid phenomenon if you have just been a bit of the environment about modern Japanese culture, and this builds the manga on this. Thus, a huge Hachune pops up and attacks in the first chapter (see pictures below), and both that and Hatsune arm themselves with leeks (negi). This is understood, appropriate and fun for fans, but it will probably seem very confusing and random for people outside the fandom.
That way, the manga fails a little. It could have potential as an introduction to Vocaloids personalities, but it uses so much of the understanding that it may be difficult to get started with people who do not have it. At the same time, however, there is also the risk that it may be slightly different from the “headcanon” that some fans have adopted about the characters. On the other hand, one can say that Kei if any must be the official interpretation of how the Vocaloids are as persons.
However, it is not the case that the great personalities and character development can be found in the stories. There is pressure on the -ies since there are many small stories that are independent of each other. These are, however, fun and often sweet, not in the sugar-like way, but in this way they describe how friends support each other. The feeling is in general more like short chapters as found in webcomics rather than the larger stories found in more serious manga, but that style is not so unusual for comedies.
Overall, it is a well-drawn collection of nice little stories with frequent color pages with really great illustrations. There are so many of them that you get the feeling that you are sitting with a hybrid between a manga and an artbook. This probably interferes with the reading flow, but on the other hand they are so great that you are delighted every time you come across one.
Should you buy it
If you like the classic Voaloids there is no doubt that you should buy it, the little stories with the characters you already know and love bring smiles and joy. It will also do for others who like simple comedies, but it’s Vocaloid that sells it.
Another reason to invest in the collection are the great illustrations, as with proper artbooks, you can spend some time sitting and admiring the beautiful color pages.
Translation/Adaptation: Michael Gombos
Lettering: John Clark
Designer: Sandy Tanaka