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Quake Support Mascot Girl to Fulfill Vocaloid Dreams Thanks to Crowdfunding

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
Tohoku Zunko, created to support 2011 quake & tsunami victims, will now sing

Anipipo announced on Friday that the campaign to turn the Tohoku post-quake support character Tohoku Zunko into a Vocaloid met its 5,000,000-yen (about US$51,000) goal. Japanese company SSS raised the funds to turn Zunko into a Vocaloid software library so she can sing.

AH-Software, a partner of SSS, already adapted Zunko for the Voiceloid software, which synthesizes the spoken word instead of songs. Satomi Satou provided her voice.

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SSS created the original character in 2011 to support the victims of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in the Tohoku region. Tohoku Zunko is named after a specialty of the Tohoku region, zunda mochi (a sticky cake made out of mashed green soybeans). Zunko is copyright free, so anyone can use the character for free without needing permission from SSS to do so.

Zunko, who was drawn by illustrator Ninico Edomura, is described as a 17-year-old second-year high school student who loves archery. Her headband and bow are made of edamame, and she coats her arrows in zunda paste. When she shoots mochi with her zunda-tipped arrows, the mochi then turn into zunda mochi. Zunko's dream is to open a zunda café in Tokyo.

The Vocaloid software will be released in late 2013 or early 2014. SSS has also released an app featuring Zunko on the Android Market. Her likeness is used by businesses in Tohoku and since the launch of her Voiceloid character, she's received five million views on niconico. SSS also revealed that a novel based on the character is in the works and will be released by PHP Inc. within a year.

Zunko already has a 3D model of her chibi version, so people can use MMD and similar programs to create dance videos. SSS aims to make a regular 3D model by next month.

Depending on how much they contributed, supporters will receive a Tohoku Zunko magnet sheet, a giant banner, and even a Hakoani device for creating a hologram-like display from a tablet (at the 100,000-yen/US$1,000 level):

Anipipo's other campaigns include Kenji Itoso's original anime film Santa Company, Anigo Animation's "ABC of Akari" short, "Animon Race" short by Thai animation studio Lunchbox, and PITA PICA animated television series for preschool children by Thai animation studio Magic.

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