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Late Voice Actor Kenji Utsumi's Voice Replicated by AI for Sony Audiobook App

posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
YOMIBITO Plus also uses Katsuyuki Konishi, Shūichirō Umeda's AI-replicated voices

Sony Music Entertainment launched a new audiobook app named YOMIBITO Plus on Wednesday. The app features classic works of Japanese literature read by synthesized voices of three notable voice actors, replicated with AI technology from the company CoeFont. The video below uses narration by an AI-replicated voice from Shūichirō Umeda (Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie's Izumi, My Life as Inukai-san's Dog's Pochita).

CoeFont says it can take at least 15 minutes of voice samples from a person to create an vocal "font," which then can read any text aloud. The video above features an apparent short sample of an AI-replicated voice from the late voice actor Kenji Utsumi (Fist of the North Star's Raoh, Dr. Slump's Senbei Norimaki, Fullmetal Alchemist's Alex Louis Armstrong) at the very end. The video includes positive feedback on the technology from Kentarō Utsumi, Kenji Utsumi's son and the head of the Ken Production talent agency.

The current selection of works with AI-replicated voices include Utsumi reading Kenji Miyazawa's "Ame ni mo Makezu" (Be Not Defeated by the Rain) poem and Natsume Sōseki's I am a Cat and Botchan, Katsuyuki Konishi (Demon Slayer's Tengen Uzui, Gurren Lagann's Kamina) reading Ryūnosuke Akutagawa's Rashōmon, and Umeda reading Osamu Dazai's Run, Melos!

The app will only be available for free until March 28, 2024.

Sources: PR Times, Mainichi Shimbun's Mantan Web

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