My first performance with VOCALOID was the "Dance of Melt" performed in June 2013 at the World Vocaloid Convention #00.
While it goes without saying, operating a puppet is something done with emotion. In other words, a performer breathes a soul into a puppet in order to make it seem like a flesh and blood human to the audience. That first experience with VOCALOID made me realize that the way we feel has stayed the same throughout the ages.
VOCALOID Opera AOI is the first time VOCALOID and bunraku have come together. It is a momentous first step, as if a bunraku puppeteer has landed on the moon. Bunraku is shown in all of its beauty through this video, thanks to VOCALOID voices.
Please, please, please watch and enjoy!
Bunraku Puppeteer: Kosuke Yoshida
In Japanese, there is a word, "Higan." Literally, it means "the shore on the opposite side of the river," or in other words, "there." "Shigan" is used for the opposite side, "here." A river runs between these two, and it is called the Sanzu no Kawa, or Sanzu River. On it, there is a ferry known as the Guzei no Fune. By riding this boat from Shigan to Higan, one is transported from "here" to "there." This is how the Japanese people view the concept of life and death.
The distance between life and death is nothing more than the distance it takes to cross a river—a little trip to the opposite shore. Japanese people have felt this way since ancient times. To look at it another way, life to Japanese people feels simply that transitory. What is important here, though, is the Sanzu River, a threshold that exists between life and death. A phase that is neither of the two. If we were to locate where both VOCALOID characters and dolls live, it would not be in the human realm, but in this phase instead.
Opera AOI is a piece where beings who exist in this borderland between life and death sing, act, and dance. A performance of the threshold, an art of the borders. A flowing, elegant kind of entertainment that could only be created by humans experiencing the transience of life. As a man who has worked to bring together VOCALOID and bunraku, there is nothing that would make me happier than knowing that through Opera AOI, viewers were able to feel and understand the Japanese sensitivity.
Digital Hollywood University professor: Toshihiro Fukuoka
This is the story of a kind of "love."
You may hear that and think, "Oh great, another love story."
After all, love is a constant theme in movies. But the kind of "love" in this story takes a slightly warped shape.
When regular films depict it, love takes the shape of a relationship between humans. But this work shows a kind of love between a VOCALOID, or a non-human voice, and a human singer.
Not only that, this love is a raging, violent, destructive one. A little strange, right?
Also, the actors who play out this love are not human, but dolls. These dolls move and behave as though they were human, further accentuating this warped nature. Their joy, anger, shock, and sadness all come across through the screen. Perhaps it is less a film to be understood as it is one to be felt.
This depiction of a strange love is presented in a 30 minute short film. I hope you enjoy it, and that it brings you a glimpse of a never-before-seen world.
Movie Director / Editor / Background Visuals:
This work is a short-form opera that is a modern-day adaptation of the noh play "Aoi no Ue." Noh is a traditional form of Japanese musical theater with over 700 years of history, and it acts as the foundation for later forms of Japanese theater such as bunraku and kabuki.
Many works of noh feature gods, demons, angels, and ghosts. Kan'ami and his son Zeami, the fathers of what we now know as noh, brought together various scattered theatrical and folk traditions, refining them into an art that could express these supernatural and transcendental beings on the stage. Generations of Japanese audiences have been moved by these performances, allowing it to survive to the present day.
One feels a sense of awe when in the presence of an extraordinary being. This project was started when I began to wonder how that could be translated for modern audiences. Learning from noh's example, I brought together elements from many different places and times. For example, I combined a classical subject with techno music, a theatrical space with computer visuals, symbolic props with smartphones, and of course, bunraku with VOCALOID. This could be compared to the contrast between the human heart, unchanged through the ages, and modern technology, which continues to change to this day. My hope is that our modern-day "phantasmal diva" will be the one to bridge this gap between the old and new.
Libretto / Music / Theater direction / Stage Design / Sound Effect: