by Max Barry

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8

Tropes of Hatsunia

  • LinkAbsurdly Cool City - Miraito is like Tokyo if it was still a leader in technological innovation (Linkespecially software) and was still more Linkfuturistic than Seoul. Thus, it has some of the megastructural arcology concepts that have been proposed for Tokyo.

  • LinkActress Allusion - Saki Fujita is the voice sample provider of the LinkHatsune Miku software, both in Hatsunia and in real life. Hatsunia's tallest mountain is Mt. Saki, and some of the prefecture and city names can be references.

  • LinkThe Alliance - In its universe, Hatsunia is part of the Mutual East Asian Cooperation Union, a benevolent and sincere version of the so-called "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" of Imperial Japan. It is also part of the Pacific Rim Organization, which is basically a Pacific version of NATO. This is inspired by Linkan idea from B_Munro on alternatehistory.com:

    "Japan as the center of an economic coalition that outmuscles the US. Perhaps a non-imperialist Japan... leading some sort of Asian alliance, with a divided China."

  • LinkAlternative Calendar - Like the LinkJapanese imperial calendar, the national calendar marks the years since the mythical founding of Hatsunia. The release of the Hatsune Miku software in 2007 corresponds with National Year 2700. There is also an era-based calendar based on the reigning monarch, but that is not used in Linkcomputer databases, which follow the international standard instead.

  • LinkAlternate History - It's not a "true" alternate history of Japan as Linkthere is no actual point of divergence from our timeline (the closest to that would be during the equivalent to the Sengoku/civil war period in the 15th-16th centuries, leading to no isolationist Sakoku period) since the geography is different from Japan. It might otherwise qualify as a LinkSoft Alternate History (Type III) with lots of parallelism and "steering" resulting in a friendly and progressive antithesis to Japanese imperialism and a more successful IT industry, and some implausibility (Type IV) with events such as an earlier restoration of the imperial government (during the Sengoku equivalent, when the imperial family was Linktoo poor to do anything in our timeline) to have an earlier end to the feudal military dictatorship.

  • LinkAlternate History Wank - But not the kind that maximizes military strength or land taken over, rather one that focuses on social and technological progress, economic competitiveness, and soft power.

  • LinkAnimeland - The country is based on Hatsune Miku (who represents a software, and is not technically from an anime), but mostly subverts this trope by borrowing real (or realistically-styled) imagery; illustrated characters only exist in fiction or as cultural symbols. But since Hatsunese society has less conservative strictness compared to Japan (as described in the Real Life section of that page), some people in public dye their hair (or wear wigs) as if they looked like anime-styled characters. However, they don't act like stereotypical anime characters.

  • LinkArc Number / LinkGoroawase Number - There are a lot of statistical anomalies and references in Hatsunia involving the number 39. It just so happens that "3-9" can be pronounced "mi-ku" in Japanese Hatsunese.

  • LinkArcology - The growth of Miraito's IT and tourism industries with limited land area have incentivized the construction of the LinkSky Mile Tower (decades earlier) and similar buildings. Later on, the LinkMega-City Pyramid will be built.

  • LinkArtifical Intelligence - Japan Linklags in AI research while Hatsunia leads. It is used in applications such as self-driving vehicles, 24/7 automated production with robots that don't need to eat or sleep, and calculating optimal solutions faster than a human can in fields such as healthcare.

  • LinkArtifical Meat - Becoming popular, as it uses less resources to produce.

  • LinkAsteroid Miners - With the advent of cheap, reusable spaceflight, industrial activities are in the process of being moved into space where the resources of the Solar System can be used and no ecosystems are disturbed.

  • LinkAttack Drone - Unmanned fighters are becoming more prominent in Hatsunia's air force (because manned fighters are Link"the fax machines of the sky").

  • LinkAugmented Reality - There are startups with Linknames like Coil and LinkMegamass, developing mixed reality smartglasses (similar to Microsoft HoloLens).

  • LinkAutomated Automobiles - Hatsunia is a major manufacturer of self-driving vehicles (imagine this Toyota Linkconcept car being released today).

  • LinkBalkanize Me - China joined the Axis in this universe's WWII and was defeated, being split into North and South China as well as Tibet and East Turkestan.

  • LinkBland Name Product - Some companies have names like Mikubishi or Ongakuten (LinkRakuten), but this is subverted with companies that have had direct ties with Miku or other Vocaloids/virtual singers, such as Crypton Future Media (the developer of the Miku software), which is also much bigger and more important in this reality.
    - Minecraft Mine the World was made in Hatsunia in this universe.

  • LinkCentrifugal Gravity - Hatsunia has at least one space station (like this Linkspace hotel concept) that has a rotating section.

  • LinkCool Spaceship - There is a reusable launch system and spaceship called Mikumaru (based on the LinkKankoh-maru concept), which is used for many applications including space tourism. It landed the first Hatsunese people on Mars in 2016.

  • LinkCustom Uniform - Like in Japan, high school students wear uniforms, but with more freedom to express their individuality.

  • LinkCute Machines - Hatsunia's robotics industry produces a lot of these. But they also focus on Linkpracticality, too.

  • LinkDifferent World, Different Movies - Hatsunia has "Mobile Suit Zaku" (because of the Link39 pun), which is basically a Gundam mirror universe.

  • LinkEarly Installment Weirdness - Hatsunia was originally a "United Federation" (like Star Trek) with a presidential republic, and had only 39 million people. The flag also Linklooked like this before being retconned in August 2013.

  • LinkElectronic Music - The most popular music in Hatsunia are genres like electropop, techno, trance, and house, all made using synthesizer software (sometimes accompanied with real instruments).

  • LinkEverything Is an iPod in the Future - Japanese electronics were mainly leaders in the "LinkCassette Futurism" era of Walkmans and faxes, but were Linkovertaken by the software-driven innovation of Apple and Samsung in the digital age. Hatsunese electronics, on the other hand, are still cutting-edge.

  • LinkFaction Motto - The national motto is "Sound the future," which is the same as LinkCrypton Future Media's slogan in our universe.

  • LinkFantasy Counterpart Culture - Hatsunia is basically Japan with more LinkHatsune Miku, a more benevolent modern history, more social progress, and the Linkinnovative and Linktech-savvy Linkspirit of Silicon Valley (but with more pro-worker regulations). The nickname of Hatsunia is "The Land of the First Sound" (i.e. first sounds of the day), paralleling "The Land of the Rising Sun." Yamaha is the developer of the Vocaloid software engine in real life, so there is "Yamaha" instead of "Yamato."

  • LinkFictional Social Network - mixu is like Linkmixi (mikushī), but more successful in its universe.

  • LinkFoil - As an inverse LinkShadowland (Lightland?), Hatsunia is specifically meant to be the opposite of common criticisms about Japanese society (actual cutting-edge tech instead of fax machines, tolerance instead of xenophobia, social equality instead of discrimination, fair working conditions instead of overwork, a ban on whaling, etc.).

  • LinkFun With Acronyms - The Mutual East Asian Cooperation Union
    - The first satellite of the Hatsunese space agency (HASDA) was the High Altitude Test Satellite Utilizing New Experiments. HASDA also has a Mars probe called MELODY (Mars Exploration with a Lander-Orbiter DYnamic, inspired by the LinkMELOS concept). Human interplanetary missions are part of the "Project DIVA" (Development of Interplanetary Vehicle Architecture) program.

  • LinkThe Future Will Be Better - What Hatsunia is generally headed towards.

  • LinkThe Great Politics Mess-Up - The Soviet Union lasted for a few decades longer in this universe (inspired by Linknotions that the Cold War never really ended) and had become the "Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics," but it eventually collapsed in the late 2010s. Also, Hatsunia is like Japan if its economy Linkkept growing steadily instead of falling into several decades of stagnation.

  • LinkHigh-Tech Hexagons - Can sometimes be a part of modern Hatsunese aesthetics.

  • LinkHologram - Current Miku concerts are often mistaken for holograms, but are actually projections on a glass screen. However, 3D holograms can be simulated with augmented reality glasses, and scientists are researching ways to make actual holograms.

  • LinkInterplanetary Voyage - The first crewed mission to Mars landed in 2016.

  • LinkI Want My Jet Pack - Although Hatsunia is mostly based on Linkthe tech trends of today, there are some retrofuturistic overestimations, such as Linkspace hotels by 2020, and commercial fusion power introduced on LinkOctober 21, 2015.

  • LinkJapanese Politeness - Hatsunia has this, too. But the notion of "harmony" is less hierarchal and rigid, so people can Linkspeak up about problems and enact social change for the better without having to Linkdefer to authority or the group over the individual. This also prevents things like bullying and Linkanti-LGBT discrimination. "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down" is the proverb that does not exist in Hatsunia.

  • LinkJapan Takes Over the World - Hatsunia is inspired by the 1980s notion that Japan would become an economic and technological superpower (also, one of the most famous songs featuring Hatsune Miku is called "(The) World is Mine"), but adapted for the post-80s world of software-focused businesses, where the Japanese tech industry has Linkfaltered. Hatsunia also did not go through an unsustainable economic bubble followed by stagnation. Japanese corporate culture was thought to be the most efficient in the 1980s, but now is considered to Linklag behind in productivity, so the Hatsunese economy is intended to actually be efficient.

  • LinkJob-Stealing Robot - Hatsunia has implemented universal basic income because this is becoming an issue. (while Japan isn't automating Linkenough)

  • LinkKaiju Defense Force - Originally, Hatsunia was going to have a pure "self-defense only" policy for its armed forces just like post-war Japan. But due to Hatsunia's nature of not being on the losing side of WWII, the influence of Linkmilitary R&D in the development of the US tech industry, as well as the case of LinkJapan not having robots to deal with the Fukushima disaster and having to rely on US military robots, Hatsunia has a greater military presence that conducts international peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention missions. But they don't overdo it either, so the military budget is 1.8% of the GDP (which is the same as the UK, compared to 3.4% for the US and 0.9% for Japan).

  • LinkKawaisa - There is a lot of cuteness in Hatsunese pop culture, but there is an emphasis on being "cute and capable" and not just infantile and helpless. And if it is just the latter, it's not something that women are Linkexpected to be.

  • LinkMirror Universe - A partial mirror universe in which Hatsunia is a democracy joining the Allies during WWII, while China is a fragile democracy that succumbs to fascism and joins the Axis. Instead of attacking Pearl Harbor, the Honolulu Pact is formed. After the war, China is split in two.

  • LinkMeaningful Name - What's a better symbol for a more tech-savvy and Linksoftware-focused version of Japan than Hatsune Miku, a singing software character whose name means "the first sound from the future?"

  • LinkMohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness - Hatsunia is Type 5.5 (Futurology) or Type 5 (Speculative Science) at its softest; mostly the former, as it is based on near-future cutting-edge technologies.

  • LinkMusical Theme Naming - The name of the country itself, and some of the names of cities can be references to Miku or Japanese Hatsunese words relating to music. One example is Senritsuchi (旋律池, melody pond), the capital of Utagawa (歌川, song river) prefecture. As another example, major cities in the northern island of Hokkaitō are named after tiny municipalities in Japan's Hokkaidō, like LinkOtoineppu (音威子府) and LinkBibai (美唄), that are Japanese Hatsunese phonetic approximations of Ainu words. These approximations use the kanji for sound (音) and song (唄), respectively.

  • LinkNational Animal Stereotypes - The national animal of Hatsunia is the bush warbler (uguisu), said to herald the first sounds of spring (also, what is the 23rd Linkchapter of the Japanese Tale of Genji called?).
    - The snow hare is iconic in the northern island of Hokkaitō (based on the character of "LinkRabbit Yukine").

  • LinkNever Was This Universe - Hatsunia exists in a parallel universe in which there is a landmass that happens to be shaped like Hatsune Miku's hair instead of Japan. Some countries are different (like China being split into two and Korea being united), but most remain the same.

  • LinkNew Neo City - As a riff on "Neo Tokyo," Neo Miraito is the name of an urban development project involving several arcology megabuildings in the "old" Miraito, which is still standing. (in real life, the LinkSky Mile Tower proposal would be the center of "Next Tokyo" in Tokyo Bay)

  • LinkNo-Paper Future - Hatsunese offices are all digital, no Linkfax machines in sight. Without LinkObstructive Bureaucracy, things run much more smoothly.

  • LinkNuclear Weapons Taboo - Subverted since Hatsunia was part of the Allies in WWII and wasn't nuked. However, there were controversies surrounding the development and testing of Hatsunia's own nuclear weapons in the late 1950s. Hatsunia currently maintains a minimal stockpile for deterrence purposes.

  • LinkPlease Select New City Name - Like Tokyo, the metropolitan prefecture of Miraito is in the area formerly called LinkMusashi (theorized to be of Ainu origin).
    - The capital of (united) Korea is still called Hanseong, instead of being renamed by occupiers to Keijō, then renamed again to Seoul.

  • LinkPolitically Correct History - Hatsunia neither closed itself off nor did it expand to other countries by military force in the early modern era, reducing any sentiments of racial superiority. As part of a "half-and-half westernization" in the mid-19th century, Hatsunia adopted Western democracy, but not the discriminatory imperialism of Western powers at the time. It went on to acquire natural resources through trade instead of conquest (decades before a global free trade system), befriend Korea (instead of annexing and oppressing it for several decades), join the Allies during WWII, and form a sincere East Asian union after the war.
    - This is intended to represent an antithesis to the brutality of Imperial Japan that is resented in Asia, and a world where East Asian countries got along politically like most European countries do. It is also based on the idea that "Japan wouldn't have been bombed (or have had to go through a land invasion) if it hadn't tried to conquer Asia in the first place."
    - Hatsunese society is generally more socially progressive than Japan, with less institutional Linkxenophobia and Linkgender inequality in the modern day. Japan's social issues are said to be ingrained/entrenched/deeply rooted and hard to change (usually blaming centuries of feudalism, isolation, and/or the influence of Confucianism or strict hierarchical social structures), which is why progress had to start earlier.

  • LinkPost-Cyberpunk - Hatsunia is a cyberprep version of the cyberpunk "Japan Takes Over the World (economically)" trope, with less of the "Linkneo-Yellow Peril"/"LinkJapan-bashing" connotations. There are big corporations, but they don't control absolutely everything, and "technology isn't screwing everything up," reflecting people's desire for the Japanese economy to Linkmove beyond outdated office tech and be more efficient.

  • LinkPun - Hatsunia purchased the Micronesian islands (in the western Pacific Ocean) from Spain (instead of taking it from Germany during WWI), which have become analogous to French Polynesia. Micronesia is pronounced "Mikuroneshia" (ミクロネシア, with a mee- sound) in Japanese Hatsunese. Some other place names also happen to have "miku" in them.
    - The name of Empress Moeji (萌治) looks a lot like Emperor Meiji (明治) but with an extra radical. (LinkMomiji and LinkMoeji are spoofs of Meiji chocolate in LinkKEI's Miku manga)
    - The real-life company Rakuten ("the Amazon.com of Japan") means "optimism" (楽天). Ongakuten (音楽天) is a portmanteau with "music" (音楽).

  • LinkReal Life Writes the Plot - Hatsunia's economy is handling the COVID-19 pandemic much more effectively Linkthan Japan, with the use of telecommuting and no paperwork stamping requirements.

  • LinkReconstruction - of the idea of Japan as a "Linkhigh-tech wonderland" or "Linkmodel society." This project acknowledges and fixes many criticisms of Japanese socioeconomic structures.

  • LinkSalaryman - Subverted as that kind of corporate culture discourages Linkrisk-taking and innovation (as opposed to the 1980s narrative of Japanese businesses taking over the world).

  • LinkSamurai - Similar to Japan, but everything diverges from the 15th century. Empress Momiji's government manages to take back de facto control from the military dictatorship (shogunate) during the "War of Lost Songs," and society gradually becomes less militaristic with an earlier end to feudalism. There is no "closed country" (Sakoku) period, just a period of non-interference, resulting in more exposure to foreign peoples and cultures and less ingrained xenophobia.

  • LinkScience Is Good - Hatsunia is a very science-and-technology-focused country, since in Japan, Linka lag in technological adoption is having a serious negative effect on economic efficiency.

  • LinkSignificant Reference Date - August 31 (the release date of the Hatsune Miku software and Miku's "birthday") is also the day when Hatsunia was founded (in legend), the modern constitution was established, the first satellite was launched, and the first astronauts landed on Mars. March 9 (3-9 being readable as "mi-ku" in Japanese Hatsunese) is also a major national holiday.

  • LinkSliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism - Definitely on the idealistic side, eschewing LinkRealpolitik like the notion that "Japan in the early 20th century had to invade its neighbors for resources because there was no global free trade system yet" (not a good idea to tell a Korean or Chinese person that). And focusing more on how technology can improve society instead of leading to a dystopia. One of the main premises is even about mending whatever socioeconomic problems Japan is criticized for.

  • LinkSpace Base - Hatsunia's main base on the Moon (which looks like Linkthis) is called "Tsuki no Miyako" (Capital of the Moon), from LinkThe Tale of Princess Kaguya.

  • LinkSpace Station - Hatsunia has space hotels in orbit around Earth (based on this Linkconcept). The first space station, called "Mirai," was built in the 1990s.

  • LinkStar Scraper - The 1580 m Sky Mile Tower (20 meters short of Linkthe actual concept and 29 short of an actual mile, but it's exactly a thousand Mikus tall).

  • LinkSurprisingly Good English - English became an official language in Hatsunia in 1967 to promote diplomatic and economic globalization.
    - (meta reason: English is the Linklingua franca of computing, and was easier to handle on early computers compared to Linkkanji)

  • LinkTake a Third Option - In the LinkAge of Imperialism, when most countries either conquered (which bred supremacism), got conquered (which bred resentment), or Linkisolated themselves (which bred xenophobia), Hatsunia did none of those things (with a slight exception for Micronesia, but that was acquired peacefully) and instead practiced either non-interventionism or diplomacy and trade.

  • LinkTechnocracy (Emperor Scientist) - Downplayed - Hatsunia puts democracy first and doesn't have a dictatorship of scientists and engineers; however, they do influence policy in the upper house of the legislature (by scrutinizing [not vetoing] proposed laws from the elected lower house in a system similar to the UK House of Lords), which may partly explain how the government is so tech-savvy (as opposed to Linka cybersecurity minister who doesn't use a computer).

  • LinkTechnology Porn / LinkThirty Seconds Over Tokyo / LinkTomorrowland - Hatsunia is heavily based on Japan's reputation as a country at the forefront of technology (see this Linkcompilation of articles). In reality, that reputation mostly came from the 1980s and fax machines and stamped paperwork are still common in Japan, so Hatsunia aims to correct that and other weaknesses in Japan's tech scene, although with some exaggeration for emphasis.
    - Traditions that are detrimental for society or the economy are abolished, but benign elements of traditional culture still exist.

  • LinkTokyo Is the Center of the Universe - Miraito, the "Silicon Metropolis," is like Tokyo if it also had a booming and innovative IT sector.

  • LinkTrademark Favorite Food - Negi (green onions) are the signature food item in Hatsunia, like how they are associated with Miku in real life (specifically through a cover of the Finnish folk song "Ievan Polkka"). Ancient rituals involved swinging or spinning a negi to music (especially to signify "the first sounds of the day"), and it came to be a symbol on the flag. Some prefectures are named after cities or towns with negi-themed mascots, like LinkYonago and LinkFukaya.
    - Vegetable juice is a popular beverage. (reference to the song "PoPiPo")
    - Strawberry shortcake and egg pudding are popular desserts. (reference to the song "(The) World is Mine")

  • LinkVirtual Celebrity - The page image says it all. But in this universe, Hatsune Miku isn't just a singing software character, she is also part of the folklore regarding the country's foundation and has been part of the culture for centuries.

  • LinkWish Fulfillment - Hatsunia is basically wish fulfillment for anyone who is frustrated with the outdated and slow-to-change aspects of Japanese society and the economy, or was expecting Japan to be highly advanced technologically. It may be too idealistic, but what's the point of Linkcriticizing a country for "backwards" institutions and policies that are "decades behind" if you don't consider what it could have instead?

  • LinkYou Gotta Have Blue Hair - Students in Hatsunia can have any hair color they want, in stark contrast to the Linkpolicy of a Japanese school which requires all students to dye their hair black. The latter policy has been criticized as the kind of attitude which prevents "thinking outside the box" and "stifles innovation," so Hatsunese schools are the opposite of that.

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