Microsoft released a new ad for Internet Explorer featuring…well, just look for yourself.
That video, posted to the Internet Explorer YouTube channel, features Inori Aizawa, a new Anime mascot for Internet Explorer, fending off a horde of really nasty looking robots with what would appear to be the SmartScreen shield. It’s not wholly new territory for Microsoft, which has employed similar characters in its Asian markets before. Internetexplorertan.com, the website that the video points to, redirects to a Facebook page devoted to the character, including this post about her backstory:
Hey everyone! My name is Inori and you can think of me as a personification of Internet Explorer.
When I was younger, I used to be a clumsy, slow and awkward girl.
However, just like the story of ugly duckling, people told me that I have really matured and changed over the years. 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?
It’s a clear nod to IE’s past reputation as a stodgy browser that was difficult for web developers to work with. Microsoft has made a number of changes and performance updates since then, but it doesn’t seem like they’ve yet been able to shake the reputation that IE earned earlier in its life.
Aizawa was designed by the folks at Collateral Damage Studios in July, according to a blog post by the company about her origins. She came about after a different artist created anime personifications for Chrome, Safari and Firefox, and CDS thought that Internet Explorer needed to be represented. After going through a bunch of sketches and iterations, CDS posted the character to its Facebook page, where she garnered tons of likes, as well as shares by organizations like the Anime Festival Asia.
The post ended with “And finally, Microsoft, call me.” It seems like they did.
A Microsoft spokesperson provided GeekWire with this e-mailed statement about Aizawa’s launch:
In conjunction with the launch of Internet Explorer (IE) 11 on Windows 8.1 in October, Microsoft Singapore today unveiled Inori Aizawa (藍澤祈), an original anime character whose backstory symbolizes the browser’s transformation into a modern and powerful best-in-class browser. This was a local Microsoft execution in Singapore in conjunction with the Anime Festival Asia (AFA) 2013. As part of the local execution, this is the most extensive collaboration undertaken by the team to reach out to anime and Japanese popular culture lovers across Asia.
If you want to put IE’s new mascot to work on your computer, there should be a specially-branded Inori Aizawa version of the browser coming soon.
Update: A Microsoft spokesperson provided an additional statement to GeekWire, clarifying that while Aizawa’s video did appear on the main Internet Explorer YouTube channel, she won’t be appearing in any marketing stateside:
The anime character was created by Microsoft Singapore for the Anime Festival Asia (AFA) 2013. This is a local marketing program for anime and Japanese popular culture lovers at AFA 2013 and across Asia and does not represent an official mascot for Internet Explorer.