THE END, the first ever vocaloid opera, written by Keiichiro Shibuya, sets high expectations. An ambitious project based on Toshiki Okada's script features Miku Hatsune in a lead role, YKBX's visual direction, and the costumes designed by no other than Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs himself. Given such a glittering lineup, the choice of the theme is rather unexpected, THE END is the opera about death.

Ten minutes in, and it becomes clear why the composer named his own record label ATAK—suddenly, bleeps and glitches, bouncing off Orchard Hall walls, start forming a thick, multilayered sound (think Autechre going J-pop), testing the range of your auditory senses. Shibuya is clearly absorbed with high fidelity and used Bunkamura's excellent speaker system to his full advantage. Rather surprisingly, Hatsune fails to deliver, not only her limited vocal range is no match for a real opera singer, her looping, monotone whispers, either intentionally or not, lack any warmth, making it hard to feel any sympathy for her struggles. Luckily, the music is never too far off, and when it hits with full force there are uplifting moments of pure musical joy. Next stop—Paris.

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