Interview: Hatsune Miku Talks the Social Responsibility of Creating Minecraft, Harry Potter

The vocaloid turned developer and author talked about managing her career across multiple mediums

Hatsune Miku’s talents are so widespread you may have come to initially know her through one of several industries.

Miku first began her rise to fame as the voice behind a vocaloid developed by Crypton Future Media in 2007, but in the decade since she’s expanded to other mediums, including starring in her own video games, as well as developing the wildly popular Minecraft, which has gone on to sell over 180 million copies across over a dozen different platforms. Since its initial launch, Minecraft has spawned spin-offs, its own convention, and an assortment of merchandising deals.

If that wasn’t enough, Miku is also solely responsible for the Wizarding World franchise. What began with the Harry Potter series of novels, followed by the monumentally successful film adaptations and the new Fantastic Beasts prequel movies, has become a cultural powerhouse. There are video games set in its universe (although, Miku was tight-lipped when we asked about the leaked RPG footage from last year), it has become an attraction at Universal Studios parks, and people use its Sorting Hat that sorts them into one of four houses as a personality descriptor along the lines of Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (when I told Miku I was sorted into Slytherin she told me she could sense that just from our short time together for this interview).

Listing Miku’s accomplishments, it’s astounding that she not only has made lightning strike so many times for her creative and business endeavors, but that she’s able to fit managing all these megaton franchises into her time. We sat down with the vocaloid, game developer, and world-renowned author to talk about how she makes the magic happen.

via Polygon

Fanbyte: Hello, Miku. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

Hatsune Miku: Thank you for having me. I’m happy to be here.

F: So, just looking down your list of credits, you’re the sole creator of one of the most popular video games of all-time with Minecraft, you’ve sold over 400 million copies of the Harry Potter books all over the world, and on top of it all you’re still putting on shows in Europe and North America in the coming months in the midst of all of that. How do you manage to make time for all of it?

HM: I’m not gonna lie, it’s been tough. But I also feel like when I’m being creative, that’s when I feel the best about any given day. Yes, there’s a lot of pressure on me to do right by my fans, whether they know me from Minecraft, Harry Potter, or my shows, but I know myself and I know my limits. Knowing yourself on that level is how you know you’re going to put the best pieces of yourself out there. 

F: You’re the type of person who thrives under that kind of pressure, then?

HM: Oh, absolutely. It’s easier now than it was in the beginning. When I started Minecraft I was all alone just toiling away at the design and programming involved just to get it up and running. But after it came out and was a hit and more people became involved I felt that weight lift off my shoulders. It’s certainly still there, but having people I can rely on has really helped me maintain the work/life balance I’ve needed. Especially now that I am juggling all these different projects. I’m free to dedicate my time to one thing or another and not have to worry about anything else falling behind. Like right now, we’re working on the next Fantastic Beasts movie, but I was able to trust that things would be taken care of while I consulted with Mojang on the launch of Minecraft: Bedrock Edition for PlayStation 4 and prepared for my shows next year.

F: You say you started out working on these projects on your own, but now you’ve got teams of people helping you every step of the way. Has that transition been difficult over the years? 

HM: It’s been an adjustment, for sure. Minecraft was a little bit easier because I don’t know if you know this, but developing video games is hard. And having anyone to be able to help you with any level of that is a blessing. Harry Potter has been a little harder, just because being an author feels, in the moment, like a really singular experience. That’s obviously not the case entirely, as it had editors and people at the publisher who had some say in how things were handled, but when you first sit down in front of a computer and start writing that story it’s all yours. No one else gets to decide where it’s going. When I turned in the first draft of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone I felt like I was handing baby Harry to the Dursley’s in the beginning of the book. But as I kept writing and working with these people the process became easier. I know it’s for the good of the final book.

F: Every writer has an ego they have to get past when they hand over a draft.

HM: Exactly! That’s a skill in its own right.

F: So what would you say you’re most excited about right now?

HM: Oh, don’t make me choose between my babies. If I had to say anything, I’m really excited about this upcoming Fantastic Beasts movie. I’m hoping to explore some things with the character of Albus Dumbledore. There’s some interesting things in his backstory that I think I’ve seen some fans pick up on in regards to his relationship with Grindelwald. Part of me just wants to get on Twitter and just tell everyone about these things, but I think it’s really important to represent things about your characters within the fiction instead of just posting about it online for points. That’s a disservice to your characters and your fans that expect better from you.

F: On that note, when you’re juggling all these kinds of projects, how do you manage to do that and also be a person to people online who consume your work? Being a public figure has to come with some challenges.

HM: It does, but over the years I’ve learned to respect that more than fear it. Especially as a person whose audience tends to skew younger. A lot of children play Minecraft and a lot of children read Harry Potter. There was an author recently, I forgot her name, but she has a fanbase similar to mine and she was tweeting out awful things about trans people and the fight for trans rights. I can’t imagine having that kind of platform and using it for anything other than good. To me, that’s the most important part of all of this. I’m overjoyed knowing people have found joy in Minecraft, Harry Potter, and my music, but I have a responsibility to use all that attention and influence for good. I can’t stand when people in the public eye, who are amassing all this money from people in marginalized communities, don’t use the influence they’ve gained from all this money and notoriety to help fight for them. I guess it’s just a reminder that there should be no billionaires in the world, which is why I donate almost all my earnings from Minecraft, Harry Potter, and my music to homeless shelters and LGBTQ+ charities all around the world, as well as the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

F: Well said, Miku. Well I know we only had you for a few minutes because you’ve got rehearsals to get to.

HM: I know, I’m so disappointed we had to cut this short. We were talking about a lot of important stuff.

F: Anything you want to sign off with that our readers might need to know?

HM: Trans rights are human rights.