Chinese Kizuna Ai Fans Revolt Amid Rumors that the Original Voice Actress is Being Phased Out
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Virtual YouTuber Kizuna Ai's subscriber count on the Chinese streaming website bilibili has been taking a dive since August 6, when two videos posted on Kizuna Ai's YouTube channel showed the character with an "ahegao", an expression of sexual arousal often depicted in pornographic manga. In the comments of these videos, fans have called the depictions a disrespect to Kizuna Ai's original character. Coupled with rumors that the Multiple A.I. project (of which these videos were representative of) will result in Kizuna Ai's original voice actress being phased out of future videos entirely, the videos have become emblematic of the problems fans are having with the current direction of Kizuna Ai.
Comments on bilibili's video regarding the issue are being moderated. Any comment containing Activ8 (the name of the corporate group Kizuna Ai belongs to) or its abbreviation A8 are made invisible to other users. Chinese fans are expressing their displeasure about the situation by unsubscribing from the channel entirely. A livestream monitoring Kizuna Ai's subscribers indicates that the bilibili channel has lost roughly 100,000 subscribers in just over a week. At the channel's peak on August 6, the subscriber count was just shy of one million; at the time of this publication, the number is just over 900,000.
The multiple Kizuna Ai project was first unveiled on May 25 in a video titled "If I say there is 4 Kizuna Ai's will you believe me? #1." A fifth Kizuna Ai, who speaks Chinese, was introduced at the Virtual YouTuber's second birthday concert event "A.I. Party! 2019 ~ hello, how r u? ~" on June 30, and on the YouTube channel on July 1.
The Chinese Kizuna Ai is so far the only offshoot of the character to receive a different character design from the original, although all the Kizuna AIs have a different voice actor. None of the identities of Kizuna Ai's voice actresses are public.
Since the introduction of multiple Kizuna AIs, the original voice has reduced her appearances. Additionally, the third Kizuna Ai's voice has been appearing in commercials instead, such as in Santen's commercial from July 30. This has given rise to fan speculation that Kizuna Ai's original voice will be "phased out," although no official plans have been announced. A.I.Channel on bilibili released an official statement on August 8 saying that videos on the channel are recorded, edited, and scheduled in advance, but did not directly address the future plans for Kizuna Ai's original voice.