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86 Year Old “Living National Treasure” Gets Android Duplicate

An android based on rakugo storyteller Katsura Beicho (86) was unveiled at a theatre in Osaka Japan, where it will perform in ten minute intervals for audiences from August 1st.  “Looking at the various parts, there are certain similarities,” he said as he watched it perform, but was quick to add it made him feel slightly uncomfortable.

A total of 53 degrees of freedom were required in order to replicate the storyteller’s facial expressions and gestures.  Its movements were based on those of Beicho’s eldest son, also a rakugo performer, who mimicked his father’s movements by watching a video.  The vocal portion of its performance will be an earlier audio recording of the man himself.

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The android, which cost 80,000,000 JPY ($1.02M USD) to create, was developed with the help of Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro (known for creating android twins of real people called Geminoids).  Its appearance is based on a photo of Beicho taken nine years ago.  Shinya Endo, a make-up artist and sculptor who has worked on the Harry Potter films, has been working on it since February.  Kokoro Co. Ltd., an animatronics company, was not mentioned in the reports, but was likely responsible for actually building it.

[source: Asahi Shimbun]

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Image credit:
Asahi Shimbun (Ryo Ikeda)

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