Young, athletic looking, and cute, with short brown hair, long legs, and a boyish figure set off by a shiny green mini-dress, young Kyoko Date is the perfect idoru kashu (Japanese for ”idol singer”). Her two 1996 chirpy dance-pop singles have climbed the Japanese charts. In fact, about the only difference between Date (pronounced dah-tay) and rival idoru like Namie Amuro or Yuki Uchida is that they’re flesh and blood — and she’s just a computer graphic.
Well, maybe not just. Slip her latest enhanced-CD single, the import-only ”Love Communication” (Victor Japan), into your CD-ROM drive, and there’s Date’s perky greeting: ”Mina-san! Hajimemashite!” (”Hi, everyone! Nice to meet you!”). Choose English or Japanese for a profile of Date, including her height (5’3” and ”still growing”), blood type (A), childhood dream (”to be a private detective”), and favorite foods (chocolate, for one). Her music video shows a scarily real-looking Date cavorting on the virtual sidewalks of New York.
The brainchild of a three-man computer graphics team at Japan’s HoriPro Inc., Date is billed by her designers as the first ”virtual idol.” Her home page (http://www.dhw.co.jp/horipro/ talent/DK96/index.html) celebrates her with provocative pictures and even an ”interview.” With profits from the singles and Date merchandise, HoriPro plans to make its virtual idol seem even more real. ”In a few years, technology will enable Kyoko to appear on a live TV show and chat with other artists,” say her creators.
”Anyone who thinks that I am ‘nonexistent’ because I am a virtual idol may believe that I exist only in the personal computer,” says Date. ”But those who think that Kyoko Date is someone they can relate to may believe that I am like a pen pal…. Kind of like a creature living in people’s hearts.” Boys’ hearts, anyway. On the Kyoko Date Virtual FANClub page (http://www.tv3000.nl/kyoko), guys from Sweden to Singapore are smitten. ”She’s real! She’s great! Oh, I’m in love!!!!!!” says Anton Wesselink of the Netherlands.
While no American label currently plans to release Date’s tunes, that hasn’t kept the virtual vixen from our shores. ”I often check out the White House home page,” she says. ”I’m excited by the thought of myself being in the house where the Clintons live.”