Leader of the Straw Hat pirates greets and holds conversations with visitors to Shueisha.

As Monkey D. Luffy is so fond of telling us, he’s going to be the king of the pirates. That day hasn’t come quite yet, but the hero of anime/manga One Piece has recently acquired a new title: receptionist to visitors to Shueisha, the company that publishes his comic.

Luffy started this role on Thursday at the Shueisha building in Tokyo’s Jinbocho Sanchome neighborhood, and he’s more than just a video display with a looping “Welcome to Shueisha!” message. This Luffy is an AI program developed by office/home security company Secom and video game developer DeNA, with cooperation from Shueisha, Toei Animation, and even Mayumi Tanaka, the voice actress who plays Luffy in the One Piece anime, and he’s capable of carrying on conversations with human visitors, as shown in this video from Shueisha Business Development Department member Michiharu Mori,

Luffy: “Hey! You here on business or pleasure?”
Visitor: “I’m here for work.”
Luffy: “Work, huh? You must be working hard.”
Visitor: “Where is the editorial department?”
Luffy: “The Shonen Jump editorial department is in this building. We need to get you checked in first, so go tell them at the check-in desk.”
Visitor: “Thank you.”
Luffy: “Naw, no prob!”

What’s especially impressive is that Luffy isn’t speaking pre-recorded lines. Instead, the AI is synthesizing Luffy’s voice based off of voice data provided by Tanaka, allowing it to create new dialogue if necessary.

AI Luffy will be on duty until April 15, and really the only thing not awesome about the system is that it’s set up in a part of the building for people who are there on official business, so One Piece fans will have to make do with videos…for now. The designers say they’ll be gathering data during the three-week test period to improve the system and plan to hold a public demonstration this summer.

Source: Secom via IT Media
Top image: Secom (©尾田栄一郎/集英社・フジテレビ・東映アニメーション)
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!