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Idoru, More Alive Than Ever

Yamasht’a Kaori


Yamashita Kaori (pronounced Yamash’ta), my favorite pen & paper Cyberpunk 2020 roleplaying character from the late ’90s through the early ’00s (she’s a “Solo” or, how she likes to put it, a “Security Adviser”: think cyberware, firepower, and “runs” for shady corporate clients), was both inspired by William Gibson’s character Molly from his short story “Johnny Mnemonic” and his two novels Neuromancer & Mona Lisa Overdrive from the Sprawl Trilogy, and by the first “cyberidol” Date Kyoko.

Those were grand times. But it turns out: Idoru is more alive than ever! Meet Hatsune Miku, a holographic singer who’s also a Vocaloid voice synthesizer application (Note: I inserted a different clip later as the original one went bad):

Hatsune Miku in Concert

I just love the concept. There are many more clips on YouTube, most of them even available at 1080p.

[Note: Here Be Spoilers! If you haven’t read Gibson’s All Tomorrow’s Parties, don’t go further.]

Also, I still love that Idoru key scene in All Tomorrow’s Parties, the concluding novel in William Gibson’s Bridge Trilogy, seen from the perspective of a Lucky Dragon employee. Here’s a brief excerpt from my doctoral thesis (148):

One of the central storylines indeed revolves around efforts to bring an “Idoru” into the “real world.” Idoru, the Japanese word for “idol,” is not a science fiction device; she is modeled after contemporary and completely virtual Japanese teenage idols like Date Kyoko who began her professional “media career” in 1996. In the final chapter of All Tomorrow’s Parties, the Idoru successfully enters the text’s “real world” frame. But, true to other forms of repetition explored in this subchapter and especially the doppelganger motif, she arrives not as an individual but emerges simultaneously from devices installed in every supermarket of the “Lucky Dragon” chain, watched by puzzled staff members, customers, and a dumbfounded store attendant who happens to be near the obligatory video pylon with live-feeds from Lucky Dragon stores all over the world:

But the crazy thing is, and he really doesn’t get this, standing and looking out through the doors at the video pylon, so that he has to go outside and fire up his last Russian Marlboro to think about it, after, is that when he sees her walk past the screens there, he sees her on every last screen, walking out of every Lucky Dragon in the world, wearing that same smile. (326)

Date Kyoko herself, in contrast, feels rather dated now. The following music clip doesn’t even feel like it’s from the ’90s; it feels like a remnant from the ’80s instead.


Date Kyoko—Love Communication


If you have something valuable to add or some interesting point to discuss, I’ll be looking forward to meeting you at Mastodon!

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