If you made it through that headline and you’re confused, don’t worry — I was, too, at first. Hatsune Miku is an internet fandom thing. She’s not a real person, and she didn’t get her start in some obscure anime — she’s a Vocaloid, which is a synthetic voice that can be fed melodies and song lyrics to output as vocal performances, and she puts on concerts. Here’s a succinct summary from my colleague, Jess Weatherbed:

Okay, a quick crash course is that Miku is the mascot and most recognizable character for Vocaloid voice synthesizer software. Each Vocaloid “character” has a specific, unique voice that’s resulted in some of them gaining fan followings like real human performers.

404 Media called Miku a “bonafide virtual pop idol with a large, global following” that often “performs” in the form of a hologram, like that weird 2Pac one from 2012’s Coachella or the avatar-based ABBA shows that have been going gangbusters in London.

Here’s Miku singing a song made for a Sega smartphone game called Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage!

Miku is especially popular, as Vocaloids go — to the point that she’s been on David Letterman, regularly tours the world, and has even been married (sort of). Polygon editor-in-chief Chris Plante even created a video explaining her years ago.

But people going to a show called Miku Expo 2024 in Vancouver’s Thunderbird Arena last Thursday didn’t get that — instead, they got Miku on a big ol’ TV, and some of them were pretty grumpy about it on social media, although, as 404 Media points out, that doesn’t really come through in the videos:

But the disappointment of some people is understandable. Tickets to these shows can be pricey. The upcoming Phoenix, Arizona, show, for instance, ranges from $55 for the cheap seats to $150 before fees for the general admission floor. The show appears to be close to selling out, with only a few seats left in the stands and an unknown number of general admission tickets. One fan said they spent nearly $200 for the Vancouver show:

Another fan wrote on X (machine translated from Spanish), “Like when you’ve already paid for your plane tickets, your hotel accommodation, you bought your ticket to the Miku Expo and you spent all your savings, but they end up getting a big TV.”

YouTuber Blake the Nerd said he was upset because the show was promoted as a hologram performance:

404 Media shared other videos of fans posting about how easy it is to make a DIY hologram:

Miku Expo 2024’s organizers apparently made some tweaks for the San Jose, California, show last night, scooting the screen back a bit:

Fans seemed to appreciate the change:

I may not understand Miku’s appeal entirely, but I would rather these folks have a good time at their show. And when you’re going to see a fictional performer, you want the show to help you suspend a little disbelief, right? As a kid, I desperately wanted to go to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Coming Out of Their Shells Tour, which had actual people wearing actual Ninja Turtles suits singing into actual microphones!

Okay, maybe that’s not better than the giant screen at Miku Expo. But if I had paid money to go to one of those Ninja Turtles concerts, I’d have been very disappointed if I’d gotten a pretaped show on a Jumbotron or projected onto a screen.

Then again, a lot of the fun of a show is just getting together with other fans — as Taylor Swift fans showed when they fueled the Eras Tour’s record-breaking theatrical run. Maybe the ticket prices are worth it just to be around people who like what you like.


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