By Ashley Gibbs
While I am not a huge vocaloid fan, I do know some stuff about them and of course know who Miku Hatsune is. She’s the cute main mascot that’s taken Japan by storm and her likeness is used to sell many things. That being said, I had never listened to the song Acute before reading this. Had I heard the song, I would have known what to expect of a story based on it. Going in blind, Hatsune Miku: Acute did a good job of shocking me, it’s a darker story than I would have expected from these cute characters. However, at its core, it’s a story of friendship and love and how sometimes jealousy can make us do horrible things.
The story focuses on Miku, Luka and Kaito who are childhood friends. Miku acts like the little sister to the other two most of the time, and the three get along very well until they get older and romantic feelings start to blossom. Both Miku and Luka find themselves in love with Kaito but promise each other not to act on it so the friendship isn’t tarnished. However, Kaito develops feelings for Luka and much like an acute triangle, the three sharp edges of this love affair cause problems. I was not expecting the dark turn the story took and the yandere aspects, but the story is an adaption of the vocaloid song “Acute” and even some dialogue in the book are direct quotes from the song itself. The writing was great, I became invested in the characters and their relationships. It starts off as a simple slice of life story but soon becomes deeper and darker with a psychological thriller edge to it.
As this is a manga, the art style is pretty straight forward in terms of the genre. There isn’t anything groundbreaking with the style, however, it is well done and very clean. The book is in black and white and the first few pages, as well as the cover, are in color so if you aren’t familiar with what the characters look like you can at least refer to those in terms of hair color and such. Another nice thing I noticed was at different points in the book the characters wear their outfits from the Acute music video. While the story is a very much extended version of the song with backstory and such, I found this attention to detail to be interesting and I think vocaloid fans will enjoy it as well.
While this isn’t my first time reading a vocaloid manga, I certainly enjoyed it more than the previous time. That was more of a fan love letter to a particular character and felt a bit creepy. This is a full story from beginning to end with no author insertion. Hatsune Miku: Acute is a solid reading experience for fans of the characters or even just anime and manga fans. I’d also reach out on a limb and say readers who aren’t as familiar with anime and manga may also enjoy it because of how well it’s written. The translation is also well done and while some Japanese honorifics are kept and certain terms, like "onii-chan" which is a term of endearment, I didn’t have too many complaints about these aspects. It does exclude readers a bit who are not familiar with these things but I don’t think it’s done to an extent that ruins the storytelling.
Miku Hatsune: Acute
Writer & Artist: Shiroi Asahina
Translator: Michael Gombos
Letters: Susie Lee, Studio Cutie
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics