In January 15, 2004 Leon and Lola were the first Vocaloids to ever be released. The products were powered by the Vocaloid software, under license from Yamaha, and were release by UK company Zero-G Limited. Leon was a virtual male vocalist while Lola was a female’s. Both of there voices came from professional singer who can not be named.
Of course being the first Vocaloids that of course meant they weren’t perfect. Consumer’s usually complained that Leon’s voice sounded muffled or to high pitch to the point that he sounded like a woman. And while Lola sounded much clearer people said that her voice was too deep making her sound like a man. But despite all these complaints that didn’t stop the two programs from winning 2005 Electronic Musician Editor’s Choice Award in the category ‘Most Innovative Product’ .
In 2006 a CD called A Place in the Sun was release featuring English and Russian song sung by Vocaloid Leon.
Here’s a brief history of the project explained by the creator:
I first heard Lelik (Leon) in January 2004 in Anaheim, on the NAMM seminar, accompanied by Hideki Kenmochi (Yamaha) and Ed Stratton (Zero-G). I was surprised by his voice and got the idea to make an album with him. Our second meeting happened in New York in October 2005 at Music Player Live!, in Bil Bryant’s (from PowerFX) booth. By that time I already had some song sketches in Russian, but Lelik didn’t speak Russian at all. I realized the need to simplify both melodies and lyrics, and that Lelik will have to do his best in articulation. In January 2006 we started work. Now that it’s all done, you can see for yourself, how sincere and amusing these songs have become, when performed with such an unusual timbre.
-Alexei Ustinov, (from CD liner notes)
A year later Vocaloid began to become popular thanks to Vocaloid2 Miku Hatsune. However, Leon ‘popularity’ would only be gain a year after that thanks to ChoiWARU-P, a popular Nico Nico Vocaloid producer. Before using Leon, ChoiWARU-P uploaded 18 works to Nico Nico which used Miku and MEIKO , but none of those got over 5,000 view counts. Them suddenly he uploaded a video of Leon singing True to my heart featuring a picture of a rather manly/funny looking man which got him view counts more than 50,000.After that video, Leon became mostly known as a joke by the Vocaloid community.
In fact Leon’s manly image was so popular that he was able to rank 1st in a weekly Vocaloid ranking that featured him sing Interstellar Flight.
Later on Leon would get another popular and much more appealing image thanks to 愛レオンPさん, who drew Leon as a bishonen type character with blonde hair, a blue shirt, and white pants. His item later became known as a Tulip thanks to a video of him singing Saihate, an original Miku Hatsune song, that featured tulips falling down the screen.
However, Lola wasn’t able to gain such popularity as Leon. Even by English Vocaloid standards she has a very low number of videos featuring her and even fewer fanart. One popular fanart image was given to her thanks to artist Therubozu/Tsutomu_teruko Which usually shows her as a brunette, wearing black pants and a black shirt that is short enough to show her stomach.
Some Nico Nico user think of Lola as black which is mostly likely brought on by the fact her voice is so deep. Lola item is a frying pan, though I can not give any info on why it was given to her.
In the Vocaloid Fandom most people like to think of Leon and Lola as siblings. Lola as the badass/mean sister and Leon as the lonely/loser of a brother. The Vocaloid community have also come to see Leon and Lola as the Kaito and Meiko of the English Vocaloids. Some people even think the Kaito and Leon sound alike.
If some of you feel that some of the info listed above is inaccurate or want to add something to it please leave a comment.
Next In-depth character analysis will be Miriam’s.