Dawn of Robot Idols? DMM.make ROBOTS PREMAID AI Dances with Idoling!!!, Cupitron, and Akishibu project in Akihabara!
DMM.make ROBOTS took a historic first step towards making robot idols reality with the unveiling of their PREMAID AI line of tabletop robots on October 29, 2015. While some may have believed that supergroup AKB48 would be how Japan takes over the world as they continue to establish sister groups overseas, PREMAID AI may be the seed that ends up taking root similar to how Pokemon and Hello Kitty have done. Joining DMM in their efforts were the human idol groups Idoling!!!, Akishibu project, and Cupitron.
Erica Tonooka and Rurika Yokoyama or Idoling!!! served as the MCs, welcoming fans and media to the historic event before turning things over to DMM president Tatsuya Matsue for his opening address. Matsue expressed his fascination at how even though his company was working on robots that could dance as well as humans, there were many popular dance moves that took their inspiration from mechanical movements.
From there, project manager Suzuki and representative of Robot Yuenchi (Robot Amusement Park) Okamoto took the podium to explain their vision for the future of entertainment robotics. In addition to developing robots that could appear in Hollywood movies and other realms of entertainment, they expressed their wishes to be able to have one appear at the famous Japanese year-end show Kouhaku Utagassen. They explained that PREMAID AI, PREMAID AI Mari, and PREMAID AI Yukari were compatible with the Android mobile OS, which would allow owners to program them without having to use any proprietary software and that DMM would be available to perform maintenance should the units require repair. In addition to collaborating with Idoling!!!, Akishibu project, and Cupitron, Afilia Saga and Niji no Conquistador. Here is a video of PREMAID AI dancing to “THE☆Uchouten SUMMER!!”
Finally it was time for the robots to be revealed! Dramatic music echoed throughout the room as the curtain raised and Tonooka and Yokoyama were joined by Mayu Furuhashi, Mayu Sekiya, and Rena Sato with Yukari, Mari, and the original PREMAID AI standing on the table between them. Furuhashi mused, “There’s a cuteness to them that we don’t have…”, which prompted Okamoto to quip, “Please buy one!”
The original PREMAID AI was placed in the middle of the table and the 5 members of Idoling!!! began “Cheering You!!!”, their final single. PREMAID AI’s arms moved smoothly in sync, pointing towards the sky and waving above her head.
At the end of the performance, she even took a bow and blew kisses to the audience. Yokoyama exclaimed, “She’s the center!” Okamoto explained that they had programmed a lot of different gestures but had them randomized to where they did not know what PREMAID AI would do, giving it a more natural feeling to the performance. Okamoto added that one of the challenges with the development of PREMAID AI was using what limited movements they could in order to express dance as human idols do as well as the durability issues associated with having as many moving parts as she does.
Technopop trio Cupitron took the stage next, joined by PREMAID AI Mari for “Robot Boy Robot Girl”. With the 200 LEDs on their outfits flashing their more than over 16 million different lighting combinations and their effected vocals, it seemed like a dream collaboration come true! However, Mari’s movements were not as crisp as those of Saika Hamada, Nichika Yamakawa, and Rina Miyakawa. Suzuki vowed that they would be working diligently to make sure that Mari would be back to her usual cheerful self by the time she would be going on sale. When asked if Cupitron had made the song just for the event, Hamada enthusiastically answered “Yes!” with a smile on her face. Miyakawa expressed her delight at being able to dance with such a cute robot.
PREMAID AI Yukari joined Akishibu project for “Akishibu Way”, showing off some impressive ankle and knee movements that Mari and original PREMAID AI had struggled with. Of course, Yukari’s upper body kept up with the 8 members of Akishibu project admirably but, it was clear that further development would be necessary for it to roll her hips and shoulders and strut across the stage as they do.
Ami Iseki thanked the audience for helping Akishibu project rank #1 on DMM.yell (a mobile app where fans can “yell” at their favorite idols to support them), they had been granted the privilege of closing out the press conference with a mini-live. As impressive as PREMAID AI Yukari was earlier, it became apparent that the robot idol revolution was still a few years off when Akishibu project launched into “Eternal Blue ~Kimi to Boku to Sora to Umi~”. With choreography highlighted by the members swinging their right legs while standing on their left, jumping, and other swift footwork, the members moved energetically around the stage. Encouraged by Yuuna Arakawa’s request, the fans began to raise their voices and clap their hands.
The voices grew louder, fans calling out a MIX as the piano intro for “Midaregami Fighting Girl” filled the room, rapidly chanting “Kera” as Hinako Kera sang her opening lines. It is this kind of connection that human idols share with their fans which may be the one thing that a robot, no matter how well it dances, may never be able to receive. However, this may be premature since the technology is still in its infancy. With virtual idols like Hatsune Miku boasting fans from all over the world, it would be unwise to jump to conclusions about something that has never been done before. Akishibu project ended their set with “New World”, a song with particular emotional significance to members and fans alike as it was brought back at their tour finale at Shibuya duo on September 18, 2015 after being “sealed away” at the end of their sold-out TSUTAYA O-WEST live on January 25, 2015.
While the gap between human idols and robot idols is still quite considerable, the PREMAID AI line from DMM.make ROBOTS is the first step towards a possible future world where you can own your own customizable robot idol. As technology continues to develop, there will be more breakthroughs in the field of robotics, which may one day allow fans to inhabit a world where their oshimen doesn’t have to graduate, get old, or get caught in a scandal.
DMM.make ROBOTS PREMAID AI Official site: http://robots.dmm.com/robot/premaidai
DMM.yell Official site: http://yell.dmm.com/lp/
Akishibu project Official site: http://akishibup.net/
Akishibu project Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/AkishibuProject
Cupitron Official site: http://cupitron.com/
Cupitron Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/cupitron
Idoling!!! Official site: https://idoling.fujitv.co.jp/
Idoling!!! Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/idoling_staff
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