Monday, November 14, 2011

Rant: Oliver's Greater Design

Once again on VocaRant we are brought to the upcoming Vocaloid 3 Oliver. I did a first impressions article and then took a look at his reception. Today, we will be discussing Oliver as a character and the various design decisions around his artwork.

Probably the best place to begin is his bandages. They were both controversial and expected at the same time. Controversial because when they were revealed people were drawing parallels to VocaTone staffer Sango's UTAU Neko Kanochi . Expected because after his silhouette was revealed the odd outline on his foot drew much speculation.

While there were various theories on what they might be, including a hilarious 'winged feet' theory that drew some amusing fanart, probably the most plausible and one that stuck with me was the idea of bandages. While hindsight is 20/20, for those familiar with PowerFX and their 'horror film' theme it just seemed to make sense.

Speaking PowerFX's monster theme it seems once again it is a point of contention. While not as bad as 'Frankenstein Al' or 'Horror Ann' Oliver's mummy-rific theme drew attacks from the fanbase and sparked confusion from the non-English speaking Vocaloid fanbase who weren't familiar with PowerFX's history and weren't exposed to his design notes.

Looking at some of the Japanese blog comments we find some posts like:

[the below is machine translated]
"Why point to serious injury?"

What other reasons:
1. Do not know the meaning of the bandages
2. A somewhat realistic creepy
3. Still the illustration isn't that good

Beyond just questioning the bandages there were debates about whether or not he is a shota, how Len won't loose to him, and how they expected him to be popular in the west and how one person wished he knew English to use him.

Speaking of Kagamine Len, it seems that a lot of people like to draw parallels with him and Oliver. While I can see where they are coming from, on the most basic level they do share some traits.

Yes, they are both young males with blonde hair and wear shorts but beyond these almost superficial aspects of their character they really don't share much in common at all. Where Len has yellows, Oliver has navy blues, where Len has arm-warmers, Oliver has actual sleeves, where Len wears a headset, Oliver holds a dynamic mic, where Len has a twin, Oliver has his bird companion.

I really don't get where people get off calling Oliver 'unoriginal'.  As moderator on UtaForum's UTAU Artwork Section and member of the the #Vocaloid-fanclub & #overseas-utafest groups on DeviantArt,  I have seen all kinds of Vocaloid & UTAU art costumes and designs and frankly I haven't seen anything like him before.

Maybe it is because I expose myself to so much art and don't limit myself to the limited number of Vocaloid 'official' outfits but I have come to appreciate the subtleties of design. I can see where Lawlietlk drew inspiration from the Vienna Boys Choir but I can also appreciate how she put her own spin on the outfit.

Had she copied the outfit verbatim Oliver would have had a lot more of a sailor suit overtone and the comparisons to Len a bit more justified. Beyond that the hat he wears is reminiscent of a pilot's cap rather than the beret you would expect on a choir boy.

In terms of accessorizing the bandages fit PowerFX's greater theme without being over the top overt. It grants him an asymmetric quality without resorting to typical UTAU design clichés like heterochromia or stupid props to make them 'unique'.

Really I must say of all the character items the fan titled "James" is the best one since ice-cream. Oliver I like you, I have barely heard anything from you but I know I like you. Rock on Oliver. Rock on!

Now can we see something more up-beat and wide ranging as a demo nao? Please? I mean pretty please?

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