The virtual assistant in this SUV is a holographic anime girl
China’s FAW Group is best known as the state-owned carmaker that builds Red Flag sedans for top Communist officials. But this Chinese icon’s new car has a Japanese twist.
FAW subsidiary Bestune (formerly called Besturn) is teasing a new SUV with a “Japanese anime” girl virtual assistant. She comes with several outfit options, including what looks like a police uniform.
What’s more, she lives inside a pop-up holographic display that sits right above the dashboard.
Here’s a gif showing her in action:
So what does she do? The assistant responds to voice commands. Besides strutting her stuff, you can also ask her to play music, turn air conditioning on and off, bring up GPS navigation, give restaurant recommendations, and more.
If an anime girl isn’t your thing, you can also choose between a cartoon boy or a robot.
The adoption of a Japanese character by an iconic Chinese carmaker, largely regarded as a patriotic symbol, is an interesting choice given China’s complicated relationship with Japan.
In China, especially among the older generation, the Japanese invasion during World War II remains a testy issue, along with recent territorial disputes in the East China Sea. Recent surveys showed that people in both countries still hold deep animosity against each other.
But there are signs that attitudes are changing, as many younger Chinese people come to embrace aspects of modern Japanese culture. China’s most popular anime streaming site Bilibili, for instance, draws a whopping 76 million users each month -- equivalent to more than half the population of Japan.
Another group driving the trend: 80s and 90s kids, who grew up playing pirated Japanese games. Fueled by a wave of nostalgia, Chinese companies have snapped up rights to hit franchises, breathing new life into classic titles like arcade favorite King of Fighters and Pokémon rival Digimon.