In 2011, Aimi Eguchi was one of the latest addition to a Japanese girl group with millions of superfans, the AKB48. Each year, fans vote on which of the group’s members is the most popular, and the winner is announced in an internationally-televised awards ceremony.
But in that same year, Eguchi soon appeared in a candy commercial for Glico, and fans became suspicious. She was also featured in the Japanese magazine Weekly Playboy. Usually, only the most popular girls get to do commercials and magazine features, yet Eguchi was still at the bottom of the ladder. New members don’t get that kind of publicity.
The Controversy Behind Aimi Eguchi
Aimi Eguchi became a hot topic of discussion among fans, many of whom think that she is unreal and is sort of like a “photoshopped character.” They started to suggest that Eguichi isn’t human. Some bloggers noted that Eguchi resembled other members of the group when she was first introduced, and these suspicions only grew when she starred in a Glico ad.
According to the profile AKB48 created on the website, Aimi Eguchi was born on February 11, 1995, and she lives in Saitama, Tokyo.
In a mini-documentary titled “The Birth of Eguchi Aimi” unveiled on the Glico homepage in June 2011, they confirmed that AKB48’s newest member was a digital composite image formed from the physical characteristics of six existing members.
Aimi Eguchi is a computer-generated image (CGI) made from:
- The eyes of Atsuko Maeda (19 years old)
- The nose of Tomomi Itano (20 years old)
- The mouth of Mariko Shinoda (25 years old)
- The hair and body of Yuko Oshima (22 years old)
- The facial outline of Minami Takashi (20 years old)
- The eyebrows of Mayu Watanabe (17 years old)
Eguchi was voiced by then-new member Yukari Sasaki, 15 years old. (The ages listed here were the girls’ ages when the image was formed. Most of them already graduated from AKB48 as of today).
When Glico finally admitted that Eguchi was fake and was only created from the company, many fans were disappointed. It shocked the fans who were defending her humanity. Her profile on the band page details her age, hometown, and hobbies. But as of May 2013, her profile was removed from the AKB48 website.
Aimi Eguchi was the first and only CGI AKB48 trainee. Before her existence, Japan already had at least one virtual pop star: Hatsume Miku. Miku was a hologram – a girl with aqua pigtails created in 2007. Her holographic image performs across Japan and even around the world, where music software enables her to “sing.”