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Fans surprised to learn Japanese pop idol isn't real

AKB48's Aimi Eguchi is sweet, pretty, and perfect for legions of Japanese otaku geeks. Too bad she's not real. But does it even matter?


Japanese geekdom was reportedly shocked of late to learn that the newest member of AKB48, an all-girl idol band with a rotating roster of fresh teen faces, isn't human.

According to her official profile, Aimi Eguchi is a 16-year-old from Saitama, north of Tokyo. Her looks might have earned her the prominent spot in confectioner Ezaki Glico's ad for Ice no Mi candy balls (see below)--if only she weren't a computer-generated composite.

Eguchi's appearance caused a stir among fanboys, and she even appeared in Japanese magazine Weekly Playboy. But their excitement soured when Glico confirmed she's fake, according to a Channel News Asia report.

Her face was fashioned from the features of six other band members, as you can see in this video.

I'm not a fan of AKB-47 or its 60-odd human members, and I was astounded to see grown men lining up to see them perform at a theater in Akihabara, Tokyo. Still, I have to give credit to Eguchi's creators for the verisimilitude of their work.

In this video, Eguchi introduces herself in Japanese and asks fans to support her. Her voice is that of AKB48 member Yukari Sasaki. Eguchi's a little robotic, but far more believable than an Actroid robot.

CG stars like holographic singer Hatsune Miku and virtual girlfriends are nothing new, of course. On its special Oshimen Maker Web site, however, Glico is letting fans create their own AKB48 girls by mixing the features of existing members.

Meet Mami. I just created her. Tim Hornyak/CNET

You can select custom nose, lips, eyes, and hair. Five million combinations are possible. You can see whose nose, eyes, hair, and lips went into her, too.

After you create her, you can even give your ideal idol a name from a random generator. And then you can click the Facebook and Twitter buttons to tell all your friends.

Feeling like Pygmalion, I tried my hand at idol-making for a few minutes before my mad-science creation started freaking me out like Jeff Goldblum in "The Fly." She got a little bug-eyed at one point.

Anyway, there she is at left. Meet Mami Ikezaki. She's part Mariya Suzuki, part Natsumi Hirajima, and part Sumire Sato, who are all real. I think.

Mami's cute but way too young for my taste. That, however, is what AKB48 is all about. Young, saccharine, and disposable females. What better way to promote candy?

My hat goes off to Glico for this surreal trip. I'll even buy some Ice no Mi.

(Via Singularity Hub)