Photo editing app is like having a production team adapt your life into anime, in more ways than one.

When you stop and think about it, it’s actually sort of surprising that our ace reporter Mr. Sato isn’t the star of an anime series. He’s a guy who lives his life without fear, chasing his dreams and exploring places such as the Dragon Palace, so you’d think there’d be at least enough material to squeeze a 13-episode anime TV series out of.

Alas, no studios have yet come knocking on our door to ask for the rights to produce Sora Sou Da! Mr. Sato Legend or any similarly named animated project. So today Mr. Sato is pulling another plan from the anime hero playbook, taking his fate into his own hands, and utilizing AI technology to turn himself into an anime character illustration.

More accurately, he’s turning himself into several anime character illustrations, with the help of photo editing app Meitu. If this scheme sounds familiar, it’s because Mr. Sato tried doing this same thing with Meitu a few years ago, with the results looking like this.

Not bad, but not exactly a face that would launch a thousand doujinshi ships. But AI has been making some serious strides in quality (and humor) recently, so Mr. Sato felt it was time to give Meitu another shot. Having deleted the app some time ago, he reinstalled the new version on his phone and quickly found the button for the “AI Art” function on the app’s home screen.

Then he was able to advance to the AI Painting (AI絵画) screen, where tapping the button at the bottom allowed him to upload photos from his phone to the app for use as the basis of illustrated anime-style art.

You can use any photo you want, but since he was aiming for a cool anime protagonist look, Mr. Sato decided to give the system a nice running start by uploading a snapshot of himself striking a dramatic pose at the studio where he practices pole dancing.

Once your photo is uploaded, it only takes about 10 seconds for Meitu to create three illustrations for you, and here’s the first it made for Mr. Sato.

Not bad at all! Even more so than the snazzy outfit or stylish hairdo Meitu had given him, though, what really caught Mr. Sato’s eye was how the AI had interpreted the painting of a woman’s ankle and high-heel shoe that’s on the real-world studio’s wall as a flag, and had adjusted his left hand in the illustration to make it look like Anime Sato was whipping it around. The addition of confetti also boosted the scene’s concert performance vibe.

However, in the second illustration, the AI took something away.

You might not notice it at first glance, but Mr. Sato’s long pants have disappeared. It’s not clear if he’s wearing hot pants, just his underwear, or nothing at all around his hips, but the flash of absolute territory upper thigh would likely boost the Comiket demand for this rendering of our reporter.

For the third image, Meitu gave Mr. Sato back his pants, and also gave him red hair. The bigger deviation from the source material, though, is that it swapped his right arm and right leg! Ordinarily, that would result in some startling anatomy, but the AI simply changed his pose from a superhero landing pose to a squat. He’s now holding a show in his right hand for some reason, but we figure there’s a way to market that.

▼ Maybe this could be the Blu-ray cover for the inevitable OVA sequel series.

Now that he’d seen what Meitu’s anime art AI could do for him Mr. Sato wanted to see what it could do with the assembled SoraNews24 team, so he called everyone who happened to be in the office that day for a group photo.

▼ Everybody say “Cheese Hamburg Steak Sushi!”

So how did our staff photo look as an anime character cast illustration?

Considering how many people it had to process, it’s honestly impressive that everyone looks so natural, without any of the glaring deformations or distortions that often pop up in AI generated images of human beings. Just like when it gave him a flag and swapped the position of his arm and leg, though, Meitu once again made some creative changes, such as giving Mr. Sato a fluffier head of George Lucas-like hair. Somewhat more dramatic was it’s decision to turn fellow reporters Seiji Nakazwa into a cute girl…

Seiji has always wanted a sister

Ikuna Kamezawa into a rather muscular dude

and our boss, SoraNews24 founder Yoshio, into a couple that dresses alike.

Actually, the app seems to take the number of people in a group photo as merely a suggestion of how many people to put in the image, as a few people are merged into one character for the second IT illustration. It also moved our team outside for a snowy Christmas scene, turned a smiley face stamp into a little kid with a yellow cap, and removed both Mr. Sato’s George-Lucas and real-world hair.

▼ Perhaps feeling that Lucas’ absence left the group short on star power, it seems to have turned our reporter Takashi Harada into anime Vincent van Gogh.

Finally, for the third image, we ended up with about twice as many people as were in the actual photograph, but we also seem to be at some sort of stylish springtime block party, so the more the merrier.

▼ It even looks like Art of Fighting/King of Fighters video game character Mr. Big has stopped by.

Meitu’s AI has really improved since the first time Mr. Sato tried it, producing polished images that really look like the sort of thing you’d see in an actual anime series. On the other hand, as we’ve seen here, the AI also has a tendency to jettison or change parts of reality in the interest of making a cool shot. In that sense, it’s not so much a “Make me anime” button as an “Adapt me into anime” function, complete with the sort of changes and compromises that might come from producers, designers, and other members of the production team along the way.

Related: Meitu (App Store, Google Play)
Sreenshots:iOS Meitu
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