Now the book is comprised of tons of short stories, with each having nothing to do with the last. Each story plays upon fan made stories and ideas. For example, one story has Rin and Len as siblings. The next? They're not related, but they are boyfriend and girlfriend. And there's even one where it's addressed that Len is a clone or mirror image of Rin, and the two look to Miku as their adopted Oneechan (Big Sister) and there's a ton of hijinks here and there.
There's also serious stories, like one that could count almost as a Creepypasta, where Miku was once a gorgeous human girl, who dies, and then her soul is uploaded years later as Vocaloid software.
MEIKO and KAITO appear in almost every story, but I suppose due to a licensing issue, their names are absent from the English manga. KAITO is just "Oniisan" (Big Brother) and MEIKO is a producer. Miku is the main focus of the book, with Rin and Len playing side characters. Teto is a mascot for a type of liquor, and Gakupo, Luka, Haku and Neru can also be spotted.
.... And this is where I start seeing something unsettling.
While most stories have nothing in common, a few things keep coming back for MEIKO.
MEIKO at age 25 is now considered "ewww gross, OLD" and is treated like an old mother. In some cases, a grandma. AT 25??
MEIKO because she is older than Miku (Miku is 16) is seen as a sad and sorry sight. So in almost every issue, MEIKO has to be drawn as a blazing drunkard, reminiscing about a pop idol life she was denied.
Because she is older, she's seen as more violent, and is usually beating the hell out of KAITO, even when he's being innocent and minding his own ice cream. She can also be very pushy, and when she isn't beating up KAITO will occasionally flirt with him.
Luka at age 22 fares a little better. At first, she is seen as a replacement for the twins or Miku, but once her age comes up, she becomes more of a flirty, buxom Onechan. And that seems to be her lot in the book. If she's not flashing her boobs, or getting creepy close to Miku, she's seen as another background character, and again, old.
Then there's Haku, who is given MEIKO's same treatment, but in fewer panels and without the flirting part. Haku is also 25, and is also an old, raving drunk.
But what about KAITO and Gakupo? Both are also over the age of college, how do they fair?
Well KAITO is seen as a simple, childish, youthful 20-something, who just wants to have his ice cream. In some stories, he's actually male sex symbol #1, and only MEIKO objects to his antics, outside of one "hormonal" spell with Rin. He's only referred to as "older" one time, though in the Japanese print, it's joked he may be middle aged. But the rest of the book, he's a happy go lucky 20-something that lives his life devoid of any "old" jokes.
As for Gakupo? Outside of being seen briefly as a little of a bad boy, this 20+ year old is also seen as a sex symbol, to the point the other characters are weary of little Miku-chan getting near him.
Disturbingly enough, 16 year old Miku and 14 year old Rin and Len are seen as the main sex symbols, prior to Luka's debut.
So what can a dried up old 25 year old like MEIKO do to compete?
Easy. Exist in one story as 16 year old "Meiko Sakine" in a school girl uniform.
This is how MEIKO temporarily avoids the old drunk stereotype. In fact, Sakine-san is a popular fan adaptation of MEIKO, so much so that she is offered as a starter MMD model, and appears in more fan videos and in more Project DiVA ads than when MEIKO is being herself. Sakine-san is seen with a slightly smaller bust, tiny Rin waist, flouncy, lace skirt, lace-fur boots with tiny bows, and usually with a hint of makeup, to look more youthful, like a plucky high schooler.
What does this say about women? That we all must be underage school children in order to be considered "hot"? That unless we drown out the screen with giant bewbs and a near-pedolesbo adoration for younger girls, we must be the creepy old drunk, while our male twins can still bask in the glory of being a sex object??
But is it fair to blame KEI? Hardly. His only "crime" was doing what everyone wanted him to do. And that is draw a manga based on what fans drum up.
If the fans want to live in a world where a woman is best dead before the age of 18, and men stay sexy forever, is it fair to blame him for obeying and drawing it? He did as he was told, and added in his own stories in between fan ideas.
Sure, KEI could have made a stand, and chosen not to make MEIKO and the other 20+ women look like skanks, but he was given a job and he did it.
So who do we really blame?
Maybe it's time we take a good, hard look at ourselves. What are we becoming?
When we grow up, we don't want people to stare at our faces post-college, and call us "old", so why then is it fine when we do it to other people, or insist older characters get treated this way?
Why do we want to see teens ~ some not even old enough to drive ~ as sex objects, when it's much safer to look at a KAITO or a MEIKO without becoming PedoBears?
I'd like to think that we could all do so much better as a society, and maybe MEIKO's manga debut in the United States can be that wake up call we needed.
MEIKO's voice is somewhere between Luka and Miku's range. She doesn't look like an old woman, and at 25 has reached an age where the average woman has reached her prime. She's at least at the age where a woman knows what she wants at McDonald's, while Miku would still be staring at the menu over and over, deciding if she wants a pie or not. (Sorry Miku-chan!!) Maybe instead of bashing MEIKO, we can add her to more videos, and make her just as elegant and desirable as the other Vocaloids... or better... as elegant as we want ourselves, male and female to be.