Friday, June 24, 2011

Curious seventh singer

Some of my readers are likely to wonder whether I found this story by hanging around sleazily on websites about Japanese adolescents. In fact, it was a tweet from the British New Scientist magazine that provided me with the initial link, since the technological feat in question is quite astonishing, along with its artistic and cultural repercussions.

That's a photo of the seven members of a Japanese girls' band named AKB48. In the middle, you have the lead singer, named ‪Eguchi Aimi‬, whose harmonious facial features can be admired in this portrait:

For a while, the group was composed of only six girls. Then they were joined by Eguchi Aimi, and one of the first performances of the enlarged group was a video ad for candy, seen here:

Fans of the AKB48 group were recently flabbergasted to learn that the charming lead singer ‪Eguchi Aimi‬ is in fact, not a real human being, but rather a synthesized screen-only creation. In other words, a virtual singer. But the most amazing thing of all is the way in which this artificial singer was assembled. The design team "borrowed" features from each of the real singers, and then scrambled them all together to give birth to ‪Eguchi Aimi‬. For example, the eyes of Eguchi (on the left) come from the real-life young lady on the right:
Eguchi's sensuous mouth has been taken from another member of the group:

Her nose comes from yet another genuine singer:

Here's a fascinating video that provides you with a taste of ‪Eguchi Aimi‬'s talents as a performer, while showing you briefly how she was put together:


In any case, she's an attractive girl, she sings quite well (using God only knows whose voice), and she's certainly a natural seventh member of the group. If Eguchi Aimi didn't exist, it would surely be a good idea to invent her…

CORRECTION: Since writing this blog post, I've discovered that AKB48 is not simply a small girls' band, as I mistakenly imagined, but an entire cabaret company of some 60 performers, with their own theater in Tokyo. The Japanese are so well-behaved that no Japanese cabaret audience would ever dream of standing up and crying out for a live on-stage appearance of Eguchi Aimi. Fortunately...

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