Last week, the very first MMD artbook was released to the public. It is called REBIRTH, and it represents the rebirth of MMD and the community as a respected art form. Its goal is simple- to prove that MMD is a respectable and high-quality art form.
Whatever preconceptions you have about MikuMikuDance, throw them out the window. What you’re about to see will defy all your expectations.
But first, a bit of history. MikuMikuDance (abbreviated to MMD) was created in 2008 by Yu Higuchi, a programmer with an interest in Vocaloid. He used his spare time to create an easy-to-use 3D program for Vocaloid musicians to make music videos to accompany their songs. The program went through various updates, and quickly became popular in Japan. Soon after, it grew in popularity in the West, and eventually all over the world.
When Higuchi stopped carrying out updates for the program, MMD fell to a disadvantage when compared to competing 3D programs such as Blender and Maya. One source suggests that Higuchi left the program in the capable hands of the community to improve,  although this is disputed. Regardless, without a dedicated programmer to improve and update the engine regularly, not even considering a full team, the MMDC will always be at a disadvantage. We don’t even have the source code to create our own updates, and while the community has proven itself very capable of supporting itself through plugins and complimentary programs, we will never have what other programs have.
However, these setbacks did not stop the community from pulling through. In 2010, Dance InterventionP created the MMEffect plugin, which allows MMDers to produce and use effects to improve the quality and depth of their renders. Modellers continue to develop their craft, and find new ways to make animation easier with brand new bones such as groove bones and grip bones. Some modellers even make models exclusively for MMD. KyokuhokuP developed PMD editor, a modelling program built specifically to partner with MMD. Mogg remade MMD with MikuMikuMoving. Powroupi created a plugin which allows MMD models to be used in Blender. Rui created raycast, an effect system which mimics raytracing and provided the community with a high-quality, reliable shader. Even now, 14 years after the first version of MMD was released, Nomkid is working on rewriting the program entirely with brand new features that the original could never have hoped to have.
The community pulled through, and we are keeping MikuMikuDance alive 14 years later. We don’t need a big team giving us updates every few weeks. The community is the team. We are creators from all over the world. We create the updates. And that’s something that no other 3D program has to do.
Yet still, people from other 3D communities talk down about us. They say that MMD isn’t real art. They say it’s not a respectable art form. They don’t look past the plug and play content made by beginners. This is where REBIRTH comes in.
Art by chestnutscoop @chestnutscoop
REBIRTH, with a hand-picked selection of some of the best MMD artists from all over the world proves once and for all that MMD has worth. The wide variety of genres it provides proves that MMD is incredibly versatile and can render in any style. From realism to NPR, stylised to greyscale, photomanipulation to semi-realism, there is nothing that MMD can’t do when it comes to rendering.
Art by liina @puff-mmd
As well as different artistic styles, the REBIRTH Zine introduces a different set of models than what we are used to seeing in MMD. Despite MMD being made specifically for Hatsune Miku and other Vocaloids, and the majority of assets made for MMD being Vocaloid related, a very small percentage of artwork in the zine features Vocaloids and Utauloids. We’ve moved past the days where only the Vocaloid community could have an interest in MMD. Now we have subcommunities such as Yakuza, OC, self insert, anime, Genshin Impact, NSFW, FNAF, Dune, Roblox, The Witcher and classical art. There’s a place for every community in MMD.
Art by TheashGini @BrilliantBaka
We didn’t make art just because it’s pretty- the majority of pieces you’ll see in the zine have deep, philosophical meanings. Nothing is surface level, and everything evokes a strong emotion.
We also did not shy away from very mature themes. As we were majority adults, we wanted to explore a side of the MMDC that is hardly ever seen, due to the English speaking community being mostly minors. We explored sexuality, mental illness, body dysmorphia, nudity, death and gore. REBIRTH gives us a chance to examine themes and ideas that we would not have otherwise been able to share publicly. This is a project for adults, by adults.
Art by Kora @dippedinfollyy
We have seen so many ex-MMDers gain their mojo back from seeing our work and start rendering in MMD once again. This was a product of the project that we did not foresee, as we believed that the artbook would encourage new artists to try MMD, and for current ones to feel more confident and inspired by their work. While we did also achieved these goals, it is a fantastic feeling to know we’ve inspired those who had lost their creativity for the program. We’ve proven that MMD is art, and we deserve respect.
Art by R a C @ravandcheese
The asset modelers, effect producers and plugin developers brought MMD to where it is today. We don’t need a team of developers to make MMD the fantastic and fulfilling program it is today. We just need a dedicated community, people who are willing to help, and a little creativity. And that is why the REBIRTH Zine is a landmark in MMD history, because finally, we have proved that we are 'real' artists, and we have so much to share.
You can download the MMD Rebirth Zine for free and help support our goal here. We also encourage you to get involved with our community forum and Twitter posts as we discuss the current affairs of MMD in the English speaking community: https://rebirth-mmd.itch.io/the-mmd-rebirth-zine