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IE11’s anime mascot was made in S’pore

SINGAPORE — Don’t be fooled. The anime character in Microsoft’s latest online advertisement for its Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) browser, Inori Aizawa, may have a name that sounds Japanese, but she was born in Singapore.

SINGAPORE — Don’t be fooled. The anime character in Microsoft’s latest online advertisement for its Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) browser, Inori Aizawa, may have a name that sounds Japanese, but she was born in Singapore.

Mr Low Zi Rong, an artist at local design firm Collateral Damage Studios (CDS), first created Inori on a whim in March, having seen fans create anime personifications of Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Firefox and Google’s Chrome browsers, but not IE.

By May 13, a full character design for Inori was on the company’s Facebook page and went on to garner tens of thousands of “Likes” — as well as the attention of the software giant.

Mr KC Ng, General Manager of CDS — which has a 12-strong team of designers and was founded in 2007 — told TODAY: “We had been posting about the mascot we designed, and openly but jokingly asking Microsoft to call us. I suppose that caught their attention after a while.”

Mr Jonathan Wong, Apps and Services Marketing Lead at Microsoft Asia-Pacific, said it was Inori’s “really relatable character” that caught their attention. “When we first saw the original concept by CDS, we were very impressed by their creativity and the thought they put into Inori’s character design and backstory, to create a character that best represents the new IE.”

In August, he approached the CDS team at their booth at International Cosplay Day Singapore. The software giant has since announced that it has officially adopted the character as the anime face of IE11, which was released in the middle of last month.

“Things just went on from there. It’s really cool to collaborate with Microsoft ... They are very open to suggestions and we got a lot of creative freedom to produce an animation that we can be happy with,” said Mr Ng, 27.

Nanyang Technological University’s CACANi Animation was roped in to bring the initial artwork to life — the end result being Internet Explorer: The Anime, a promotional video which shows Inori fighting off killer robots with new abilities she gains following a metamorphosis.

Said 28-year-old Low, a CACANi member: “The biggest challenge we had was to assemble the team while having to deliver the final film on short notice and under a tight deadline. It also didn’t help that a few of us had our National Service call-ups at that time!

“But, ultimately, I think it was a great one-of-a-kind learning experience for all of us, a rare opportunity. The film is a testament that great animated films can be created locally.”

The two-minute clip was a hit. It was seen more than 300,000 times on YouTube ,and tech and culture website The Verge said the “Internet Explorer ad is its best yet”. Inori is also popular in her own right, with her official Facebook page boasting about 6,400 likes. “I think I just might start using IE,” a fan known as Jer-Luen Hu posted on Inori’s Facebook page.

And this may not be the last time Inori is gracing Microsoft’s advertisement collateral. Said Mr Ng: “CDS has discussed with Microsoft what else we want to do together. We will be providing new graphics for Inori’s Facebook page to keep engagement going. These graphics will be renewed on a seasonal basis. We have also discussed other stories we can tell with Inori, but that has yet to be decided upon.”

Inori will be officially launched at Anime Festival Asia 2013, held at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre from today until Sunday. She will also be making her first appearance in the flesh, with J-Pop singer Valerie scheduled to make a cosplay appearance as Inori.

Go to http://tdy.sg/microsoftanime to watch Internet Explorer: The Anime.

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