[Anime Culture Monday] Who is Kizuna Ai? [Definition, Meaning]

With rising technological advancements, more and more can be done to simulate human interaction. AI (Artificial Intelligence) is not a new thing, as I'm sure we've all used chatbots and had a go with the Akinator. The prowess with which creators can simulate realistic human conversation and reactions has shot up since the first days of digital dialogue. Now we have games that learn and modify their content in response to the player's actions or input. We have robots that can respond with sarcasm and understand subtle jokes and respond in various ways. Siri is in nearly everyone's pocket, ready to mark dates on your calendar, search for restaurants that interest you, or even tell you about her own interests and personal life. (Speaking of Siri, Ai and Siri happen to be friends!)

So where does Kizuna Ai come in? Well! She's the Internet's first virtual YouTuber which she'll tell you proudly at the beginning of pretty much all of her videos. She likes to talk about herself as well as field questions sent in from viewers and she'll give them advice. It may not be the best, but she'll always explain her reasoning. As many YouTube personalities do, she also reviews games and her animated reactions have earned her a lot of fame. While Ai likes to tell people about what she likes and dislikes, what she's thinking, and interesting things about the virtual world, there's a bit of mystery as to just who or what Ai Kizuna is.

The Story

Kizuna Ai is a virtual YouTuber who runs A.I. Channel and her sub-channel A.I. Games. She's a proud artificial intelligence who likes to give viewers a look into the virtual world. From her first introduction video, she announces her desires to learn more about humans and to appear in a commercial. Always looking to gain more popularity and make money (those virtual bills don't pay themselves!), Ai likes to talk about her charming points and play popular games to expand her reach. Her popularity really took off with her playthrough of Inside due to her hilarious reactions and imaginative explanation of what was happening in the game. She also encourages her fan base to reach out to her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to give their feedback and request their concerns be featured during her Kizuna Ai Trials. This is where she judges cases regarding friendship, feelings, and ways to live life. Her video about her new tips on how to appeal to men reveals she very much likes muscular guys. Although she seems to be attracted to other A.I. such as Siri, as seen in her interview with her A.I. senpai.

While you can find some of her playthroughs on her main channel, A.I. Games is where she solely focuses on gaming. Her Monster Hunter World video reveals she has a type when it comes to the ladies but cares far more about cats than anything. She is always aiming for what's cute and makes notes on things she learns from her games about humans and their interactions. Despite being an AI she has very extreme reactions to disgust, excitement, frustration, and fear which are often the main point of whatever gaming video she releases. She plays a lot of first-person shooters and horror games, though she'll also play some family-friendly games like Mario Kart here and there.

【自己紹介】はじめまして!キズナアイですლ(´ڡ`ლ) ([Introduction] Nice to meet you! I'm Kizuna Ai)

The Theory

Due to her fast speech and inflection, some people argue that there's no way Kizuna Ai could be an A.I. Her speech patterns and voice seem far too human when compared to A.I. such as Siri and Amazon.com's Alexa which have a much more robotic quality to their voices. Her processing speed is also incredibly fast and it seems unlikely she would react the way she does without a script. It's true you can indeed download Ai's character model on her website kizunaai.com. Perhaps there is nothing more to her than an illusion of artificial intelligence surrounding a manipulated model and carefully constructed script.

YouTube channel MrDanteDavid lists several proposed theories and yet, somehow, they don't quite cover all that Kizuna Ai is capable of. Live 2D is facial recognition software that can track a person's face and control a cute 2D anime girl module that carries over human expression near perfectly. Considering that wouldn't translate well to the wide range of movement and camera angles she utilizes during her videos, it holds little weight. Another more convincing theory is that, considering her model can be downloaded with MMD (Miku Miku Dance) and used by anyone, perhaps there is just a team of people who come up with funny ideas for videos based on what popular YouTubers do and use the Kizuna Ai model as a more attractive representation of their ideas. Seeing the amazing work people can do with MMD is pretty convincing. However, Kizuna Ai's appearance at Tokyo Game Show 2017 sees her responding in real time to questions asked of her. How would a premade model know to wave at appropriate times or move its mouth in a way that reflects an appropriate answer to questions asked on the spot? It seems unlikely considering just how well and quickly she responds. Perhaps it is at those times her voice actress uses something like Xbox Kinect which can be linked with MMD for on the spot reactions and dialogue. Kizuna Ai definitely has very fluid motion compared to a lot of MMD models, so if this were the case, it's likely some rather large company is behind her creation as the space and technology needed would be a little much for the average YouTube group.

【実は】写真集のCMをみてほしい! 【放送してました】([Actually] I wanted you to see the photo collection commercial! [I was broadcasting])

The Result

【自己紹介】輝夜 月の特技がスゴイ!!!!

Whatever the truth may be, the idea Kizuna Ai represents is alluring to fans of technology and anime alike. We love artificial intelligence that goes beyond simply answering our commands but has a deeper grasp on very human communication techniques like trickery, boasting, and recognizing satire. Watching Will Smith tell an A.I. named Sophia a robot joke only for her to make a hesitant face before explaining how it's not applicable to her is hilarious because she is able to understand the connotation of the joke, she just doesn't think it's funny. A lot of humor and interest is created by unpredictable reactions to a conceivable circumstance that we recognize as non-harmful. We're used to the simple ‘ask a question, receive an answer’ that most A.I. up till now have been able to give, and Kizuna Ai gives a much greater departure to that model than ever before. She's even inspired other virtual YouTubers like Kaguya Luna with a pretty interesting voice and outfit design who also has a large following and less than perfectly modeled characters like Kasuka Reiden and Tsuji Motoko. Ai's influence has extended to stickers on messaging app LINE as well as goods with her image on them, a dream she has mentioned in some of her videos. She'll even be making her TV debut as a voice actress for the anime Magical Girl Site.

AIが一言物申す! (AI says a word!)

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! The internet sensation that is Kizuna Ai! While her exact origins and creation are unknown, we at least have a lot of speculations you can base your own theories on. With content ranging from popular horror games to creating new social media accounts to commenting on society, Ai has a lot to say about the human world! With her anime debut on the way and her views continuing to climb, it doesn't look like she'll be disappearing anytime soon. If you have any questions you can leave them in the comments or message Ai herself at info@kizunaai.com.

Kizuna-Ai-Wallpaper-354x500 [Anime Culture Monday] Who is Kizuna Ai? [Definition, Meaning]


Author: May

Hey friends! I reside in Georgia and use my degree in Japanese primarily to (barely) read doujinshi that hasn’t been translated. Beyond deciding who is best girl in whatever I happen to be watching, I really enjoy ballroom dancing, reading, crying over dating sims, karaoke, and being surrounded by beautiful things~ (You know, scenery, décor, boys, stuff like that). I also love talking about passions with others!

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