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OtapediaKEI (Vocaloid illustrator)

Kei Garou (born April 1, 1981), often stylized as "KEI", is a Japanese illustrator and manga author. He was born in Chitose, Hokkaido but now resides in Tokyo. He mainly does character design for light novels, but has also contributed to various anime, game, manga, and illustration works. He is most well known for his creation of the character designs of various Vocaloid characters including Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Rin/Len, and Megurine Luka. KEI enjoys playing American/imported games on the PC. Prior to illustration work, he was a systems engineer.


KEI was interested in art since his student days and was interested especially in the artwork of Street Fighter II, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Card Captor Sakura properties. Following that, he accompanied a friend who was participating in Comic Market and eventually decided to participate in the event himself. His doujinshi drew the eyes of the editor of magazine publisher Dengeki Bunko at the time, which resulted in KEI making his debut as an illustrator, with his illustrations being used in the light novel "Kiseki no Hyougen" (奇蹟の表現) in 2005. In 2007, he created Hatsune Miku's character design which proved immensely popular, both in Japan and abroad. His only instructions from Crypton Future Media were to draw an android whose base color scheme would utilize the Yamaha brand synthesizer's blue-green color. With no knowledge of what synthesizers were, he had trouble in creating the design for a singing computer and it took over a month to complete the commission. KEI felt that pigtails would look good because Miku is an android, and that they fill up empty spaces of which he also liked the idea. To this day, most of the official artwork for events have been illustrated by KEI -- over a decade since his original artwork was released.
In response to KEI's fanart of Namco Bandai's IDOLM@STER characters Ami and Mami Futami, the twins appeared in school swimsuits on flyers for "Tokachi Gold 2exit", a fan community club event that was broadcast on Nico Nico Douga on May 13, 2009.
In July 2010, KEI was the character designer for the character Rio in the "Hello Kitto to Issho!" (With Hello Kitty) franchise, a reimagining of the original 1974 series. The character was a success and since its debut, figurines and other merchandise of Rio have been sold as well as games for Sony PSVita and Nintendo 3D in 2012. Rio's MikuMikuDance model was also released. The character is the lead guitarist for a band.
In May 2011, KEI drew the package illustration and character design for "Deodorant Fairy Nol" (stylized as "DeoFairy NOL") which was a voicebank similar to Vocaloid.
In July 2017, KEI was commissioned by doujin circle bittranslate to draw the character designs for Virtual YouTuber Mirai Akari, when another Miku illustrator Tda was asked to supervise the artwork for Virtual YouTuber Kizuna AI. Mirai Akari had gained over 200,000 subscribers within one week of her video debut and currently stands at 750,000 subscribers.


KEI's art is very distinctive, utilizing pale colors resulting in a watercolor-like style. He has stated that when he was learning how to color, he was reading books by Katsuya Terada on how to draw and paint. Initially mimicking Terada's thick painting style, he eventually felt at home with a lighter watercolor-based coloring style. He has experience drawing fighting game characters, and is able to draw a wide range of characters, not just bishoujo-style (pretty girl) characters.

With Miku's rise in popularity, many artists started to emulate KEI's style of illustration and coloring. At first, KEI felt anxious about seeing these illustrations on websites like pixiv, but as time went on, KEI felt glad to see so many artists see him as an inspiration to the field.

Character Designs

VOCALOID2 Character Vocal Series (Crypton Future Media)

  • Hatsune Miku
  • Kagamine Rin/Len
  • Megurine Luka

Hello Kitty to Issho! (Sanrio Wave)

  • Kiyoha Rio
  • Yukishiro Mai
  • Houjou Mimi
  • Kurajima Tatsuki

Kitano Kamui (Hokkaido Educational Idol)
Hardcore Syndrome Series (Album Art)
Mirai Akari (Mirai Akari Project)


KEI画廊 - KEI's Gallery
KEI (@keigarou) - Twitter
An Interview with Kei, the Artist Behind Miku Hatsune, at the 2014 J-Pop Summit Festival - Nihongogo
With Hello Kitty - Official website

TOM Shop

Hatsune Miku