Technical glitch during live stream may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
For some time, many Japanese video bloggers kept their faces off-camera and used voice altering software. Because of that, the online community is already used to machine-like voices in online videos, and so when inexpensive motion-sensing technology that can convert your body movements and facial expressions into computer animation on the fly became available, the stage was set for a boom in virtual YouTubers in Japan.
Not surprisingly, most virtual YouTubers take the form of cute, young anime girls. One of the newest to appear on the scene is Nora Cat, who made her debut last December and has attracted some 55,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel where she chats about video games.
▼ Nora Cat’s debut video
With her gothic dress, cat ears, and striking scarlet eyes, Nora Cat’s visual elements are aimed squarely at otaku, as is her polite, soft speech. As a matter of fact, she knows she’s designed to check off multiple boxes on otaku’s list of preferences, and has even stated in one of her videos “If you want to fall in love with a virtual character, then you should. I won’t betray those feelings. If everyone feels attracted to me, I will continue to be attractive, so it’s OK.”
However, Nora Cat’s ability to get viewers’ hearts all aflutter may have taken a hit following a surprise unmasking. One of her gimmicks is that her videos are streamed live, with the voice and movements of her human creator/performed being converted in real-time to create the character. However, as shown in this clip shared on Twitter by @karakasa893, broadcasting live comes with the danger of an on-screen glitch that shows viewers that Nora Cat is really…
— から傘 (@karakasa893) 2018年2月4日
…a middle-aged dude who looks far closer to a stereotypical otaku than a stereotypical otaku waifu.
Some people aren’t willing to let their fantasy die, saying that this isn’t any different from a sexy or beautiful anime/manga girl being drawn by an artist who’s a middle-aged man, and that therefore seeing the face of Nora Cat’s creator doesn’t change how they feel about the character one bit. However, the added wrinkle here is that Nora Cat’s movements and voice begin as literally the movements and voice of her creator, even if they get put through a pretty big filter afterward, which make the connection between creator and created persona much closer.
But while the incident might lose Nora Cat a few fans who liked having the character as their imagined girlfriend, it’s also caused a few online commenters to say they’re actually more interested in checking out her videos now that they’ve seen who’s behind them. Maybe there’s some sort of subliminal connection to kabuki theater, which has long appreciated the thespian techniques of a man convincingly adopting the mannerisms and vocal patterns of a beautiful woman, or maybe, as one comment generated by @karakasa893’s tweet claims, “We’re living in a cutting-edge society where middle-aged otaku dudes are falling in love with other middle-aged otaku dudes.”