Microsoft's New Anime Mascot Will Throw You For A Loop

A large portion of the tech community hates Internet Explorer.

Microsoft has drastically improved the web browser recently, but web developers and the standard bearers of Internet culture have still not forgiven its history of unrelenting bugs. On top of that, Google Chrome overtook IE as the most popular browser in the world last year.

Microsoft is trying to make a comeback in the market, and that includes utilising an anime personification of Internet Explorer to appeal to an audience that abandoned IE long ago. Get ready to have your mind blown by two minutes of exploding robots, a dystopian future, a transforming hero, and a cute girl in a short skirt, all a metaphor for the browser’s capabilities:

The character’s name is Inori Aizawa, and she even has a decked-out Facebook page with, as of this post’s writing, over 17,000 likes.

Microsoft cleverly integrated her bio with their marketing. “When I was younger,” says Inori, “I used to be a clumsy, slow and awkward girl.”

The product pitch could also be interpreted as a play on the character’s sexual appeal to guys who may like anime a little too much: “I feel confident in my abilities now, and I’m eager to show you what I can do. Why don’t you get to know me a little better?”

The campaign started unofficially. Singaporean anime team Collateral Damage Studios noticed earlier this year that an artist posted illustrated personifications of top web browsers online, but didn’t include Internet Explorer. So the unabashed Chrome fans decided they could try to lure Microsoft with a mascot. “Our concept will be something of an ugly duckling story,” they wrote.

They wanted it to appeal to otakus, obsessive fans of things like anime and technology.

Their work evolved to a pitch to Microsoft Singapore, and their dismissive treatment of Internet Explorer changed to a celebration of a renewed, more efficient brand.

Microsoft picked it up, of course, and now Inori’s video will be featured in the Anime Festival Asia in Singapore this weekend.

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