Ken Matsudaira, Meet Android Ken Matsudaira
posted on by Eric Stimson
Actor Ken Matsudaira is perhaps most known for appearing in historical dramas such as Abarenbou Shougun ("The Wild Shogun"), a long-running Tokugawa era series, and Kusa Moeru ("Burning Grass"), an epic portrayal of the rise of the Kamakura shogunate. He is also a singer and dancer, adopting his Tokugawa-era shogun persona for a hit song series called "Matsuken Samba." And now, he's an android too.
In 2012, Matsudaira starred in a commercial series for Smart TV Box, a high-tech cable television interface, dressed as an android version of himself and doing a new, more techno variation on his famous dance. Earlier this week, he reappeared on stage in his android costume... only to come face-to-face with an actual android of himself, appropriately called "Real Android Matsuken" (Matsuken being the shortened form of Ken Matsudaira). It was made over a period of four months as part of KDDI's commercial campaign for Smart TV Box. Its face is made of silicon and resembles Matsudaira's sharply, because it was cast from Matsudaira's own face — he had to cover his face in plaster and lay for about an hour without moving. Apart from the head, the android is just a robotic frame, with a height nearly matching Matsudaira's. It can move its facial "muscles" and neck.
It can also talk. Frequently boasting of his superior abilities, it was able to imitate Matsudaira and others (in the video he imitates a train conductor, for instance). It can even sing, and demonstrated its version of "Android Matsuken Samba" to his model.
And Matsuken's opinions on his new doppelganger? Mixed. "It really looks like me," he admitted. "It's very elaborate, like with the eye wrinkles." But upon touching its cheek and seeing the android react, he said it's creepy. "Seeing my own face physically for the first time — should I say it's good or creepy?..." Nevertheless, he sees use for it. "I want it to take care of my first-grader at home, and play with them, and sing for me while I change during shows."