AKB48's Newest Member Confirmed as Virtual Idol (Updated)
posted on by Egan Loo
The Mainichi Shimbun paper's Mantan Web website confirmed on Monday that Aimi Eguchi, the newest "member" of the all-female idol group AKB48, is actually a virtual idol character. Specifically, Eguchi's face is a composite of six real-world AKB48 members' faces with the voice of one of the kenkyūsei (research student) trainees.
Eguchi stars in a 15-second commercial for Ezaki Glico's Ice no Mi sweet which is streaming off Glico's website. (The website is also streaming a 90-second making-of video and an earlier Ice no Kuchizuke commercial.) Eguchi debuted in a photoshoot for Shueisha's Weekly Playboy magazine as AKB48's "kenkyūsei generation 12.5" on June 13. According to her biography, she is a 16-year-old girl born in Saitama.
In real life, Eguchi is a synthetic combination of AKB48 member Tomomi Itano's nose, Yūko Ōshima's hair, Mariko Shinoda's mouth, Minami Takahashi's outline, Atsuko Maeda's eyes, and Mayu Watanabe's eyebrows. Each member was shot on camera with marks on their face to enable computers to combine their features. Yukari Sasaki, a member of the 12th kenkyūsei generation, provided Eguchi's voice.
Image © 2011 Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd.
Update: Eguchi's name comes from the "E" in "Ezaki Glico," the "kuchi" in the commercial's theme song "Ice no Kuchizuke," the Japanese word for love (ai), and the "Mi" in the sweet's name Ice no Mi. Eguchi's birthday comes from Glico's founding date, February 11. Glico's slogan "Hitotsubu 300 meter" inspired Eguchi's listed talent in track and field. Finally, her body is a composite of images of Ōshima.
Glico is hosting a "Oshimen Maker" web program that allows people to create their own virtual AKB48 member by combining the features of different members. 5 million combinations are possible.
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