Powerhouse GAN demonstration even has tech giant Elon Musk applauding its awesomeness.

Before animators start animating an anime, the characters need to be designed. Especially in the current era, where the most popular (ad profitable) anime owe their success to the charisma of their on-screen cast, work can’t really begin in earnest until someone sits down and designs a whole bunch of characters.

Unless, of course, something handles the character designs instead.

The fluid transitions between illustrations in the video make it a little hard to say exactly when one character stops and another begins, but there’re well over 100 different anime girls contained in the 45-second clip, with Twitter user @gwern claiming creation of the video which was posted by @_Ryobot, and they were all created by artificial intelligence.

To clarify, the video isn’t just morphing between one human-created illustration and another distorting what it needs to along the way. Each and every character was actually generated by a style-based generative adversarial network, which analyzes visual inputs and identifies component parts and possible variations, then uses what it’s learned to create entirely new images.

While this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a GAN being used to create anime characters, it’s arguably the most polished example to date. There’s also an astounding amount of variety in styles, with some characters looking like they’d be right at home in the currently airing Japanese TV season and others looking like the clamshell VHS case for a late ‘80s OVA release would be their natural habitat.

@_Ryobot’s video racked up over a million views almost instantly, with several appreciative commenters sharing freeze-frames of their favorite characters.

https://twitter.com/nura_moke/status/1095535659555540993 https://twitter.com/MJn58jIX54dJnRm/status/1095684807919431680

It even got an international celebrity bump when inventor, Tesla founder, and giant mecha lover Elon Musk liked it.

“Elon Musk liked my tweet!!!!!!!!!!”

https://twitter.com/talkn_syumi/status/1095699808776384513 https://twitter.com/oth_mirai05/status/1095204306020577280

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that while the GAN has shown itself incredibly capable of creating high-quality pictures, character design for anime series that are actually going into production requires multiple angles of the same character as well as aesthetic consistency throughout several different members of the cast, which the AI is yet to demonstrate. In addition, the results so far aren’t flawless. Several commenters pointed out that a number of the characters’ expressions make it look like they’re in the middle of making love (although that could simply be a function of how much pre-existing anime artwork, the network’s initial inputs, is suggestive in nature). Others working the pause button managed to capture a few awkward renderings.

“Is this supposed to be a lost Picasso painting?”


Of course, sometimes weird visuals and animation errors show up in human-made anime, so maybe that’s just a case of the GAN being a little too good at what it’s doing.

Source: Twitter/@_Ryobot via Jin

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s still hanging on to his clamshell Orange Road tapes.