Challenging the "God of Manga" AI × Human Half a Year Close ContactNovember 11 29:17

Osamu Tezuka's masterpiece, the manga "Black Jack" on the theme of life and medicine.

The new work was created using generative AI.

Black Jack was newly created through a serious "dialogue" between humans and AI.

How close has AI been able to get to the creativity of the "manga gods"?

I worked closely with this challenge for about half a year.
(Science and Culture Department, Reporter Naoro Shimada)

"A terrifying project"

"A terrible project is underway,"

Osamu Tezuka's eldest son, Makoto, who serves as the project's general director, said at a production presentation in June.

This is a project to create a new work of "Black Jack," which is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the serialization of this year, through a collaboration between generative AI and humans.

The aim is to explore the possibilities and challenges of how much generative AI can contribute to human creativity.

Makoto Tezuka
: "It's a very high hurdle to take on a well-known work, but how can we use AI to be creatively effective? If it's at a level where we can't announce it, we're going to stop it responsibly."

Using AI for story planning

Generative AI is asked to come up with "ideas," and humans create comics based on those ideas.

Full-scale work began in July.

The group gathered was a group of filmmakers, screenwriters, Tezuka Productions, and other creators who are all active on the front lines.

First, the students were divided into five groups and each team created a story.

In a story, a human inputs an instruction called a "prompt" to the "generative AI" and causes the AI to generate the general "plot" of the story.

However, in order to continue to generate stable content so that the setting and worldview of the story do not collapse, it is necessary to type in detailed settings and instructions.

For this reason, the project team built a system that automatically creates prompts (directives) just by typing in keywords.

The system was loaded with a huge amount of data, including "Black Jack" and other manga works by Osamu Tezuka, as well as a total of 400 episodes of story structure and worldview.

When you enter your desired theme, genre, or character into this system, it automatically creates a prompt (instruction sentence) that incorporates the world view of Black Jack and inputs it to the AI.

One of the creators is film director Hayashi Kaizo.

He said that he was a fan of Tezuka, and he was happy to participate in this "terrifying project" invited by Makoto.

Ms. Hayashi entered "living creatures" and "machines" as genres of her work, and "surgery," "rough treatment," and "life and death" as themes.

After a while, the AI presented five separate titles and a short synopsis of about two lines at once.

"Wow, this is..."

Mr. Hayashi involuntarily exclaimed in admiration when he saw the speed and content of the creation by AI.

We will look at each of the five titles with a keen eye.

Hayashi Kaizo:
"Some of them are rather decent, but some of them don't make any sense at all.

And one of the titles suggested by the AI caught Hayashi's eyes.

It's the heart of the machine.

Mr. Hayashi:
"The title 'The Heart of a Machine' is cool, isn't it? It's like Tezuka, isn't it? This kid (AI) is also studying."

The outline of "The Heart of the Machine" is as follows.

"A newly developed android suddenly loses its power, and the developer company asks Black Jack for help..."

In the plot, Dr. Kiriko, a doctor who has the opposite ideology of Black Jack and has many conflicts of opinion in the original story, also appears.

In addition to the fact that the AI was able to draw the plot in such a short amount of time, Mr. Hayashi was also surprised by the name that the AI proposed.

It was later subtitled "HeartBeat Mark II" and became the product name of the "machine heart" in the film.

Mr. Hayashi: "I didn't direct a single thing in 'HeartBeat Mark II,' it was created by AI that was completely out of my mind.
It's very interesting."

However, questions remain about the plot proposed by the AI.

What was the purpose of the HeartBeat Mark II in the first place?

Who is the person named "Kawamura" who asks Black Jack to perform surgery?

Why turn to Black Jack for help?

Why is Dr. Kiriko suddenly appearing and opposing androids?

Based on the idea of AI, Hayashi asked for a more specific and detailed story development.

As a result...

▽ Kawamura is a 48-year-old male, representative of the advanced robotics company "KAWAMURA Technos".

▽ The android "Maria" is Kawamura's daughter, and due to an accident in her childhood, her skeleton is titanium, her organs are regenerative cells, and her brain belongs to her. This time, he is in a coma due to a malfunction of the artificial heart.

▽ "HeartBeat Mark II" is changed to the name of the artificial heart developed by Kawamura to save Maria... Etc.

Through the interaction with the AI, the plot gradually solidified, and Hayashi also found the "weakness" of the AI.

Mr. Hayashi: "What kind of difficulties did Black Jack feel for heart surgery and hesitate to undergo surgery?" AI

: "Because it was a completely new mechanical part with circuits drawn in vivid colors."

Mr. Hayashi was not convinced that this was "abstract".

Mr. Hayashi: "AI cheats, skips things that are not convenient.
If you ask a question that has never been asked before, you will try to get a weak or safe, average answer. It has an overall atmosphere that exudes a deep meaning. If you add a little bit of human imagination, you might come up with something new."

On the other hand, when I asked a question about the behavior of the new character "Kawamura" in the plot proposed by the AI, I got an interesting answer.

AI "Kawamura desperately provides Black Jack with surgery costs" Mr. Hayashi "

Why did Kawamura provide Black Jack with surgery costs?"

AI: "Kawamura was looking for a new interface between science and humanity by providing a new perspective on human life through androids, so he decided to provide Black Jack with surgery costs to save the android's life."

He believed that androids with mechanical organs also had "life" and asked for surgery.

Mr. Hayashi:
"Isn't that a great answer?

Mr. Lin was smiling.

At the production meeting in August, it was decided that among the five group plots, the plot of "Black Jack is a story about an android patient who challenges a difficult treatment while questioning what it means to be a human being and what life is" was created by Mr. Hayashi and AI, based on the consensus of the people involved in terms of Black Jack's "uniqueness" and "newness."

After that, the humans and the AI consulted and made suggestions many times, and the AI spun the "ideas and unexpectedness" of the story in a way that complemented the "fun and depth" of the story, and the story was solidified.

Mr. Hayashi had 8 interactions with the AI.

Character Image Generation

The story was decided, and then the generation of the character images proceeded.

In addition to Black Jack, we used a customized image-generating AI that can train characters from various Tezuka works and generate images of "Osamu Tezuka-style" characters.

The focus of the work with image-generating AI is mainly the design of two new main characters, Kawamura and Maria.

From various categories such as "age", "pose", and "costume", the creator selects the conditions that the creator wants for the new character.

During the production process, tags such as "young woman", "sleeping", "cyborg", and "long hair" were selected.

Then, the AI proposed multiple face design proposals in the style of Tezuka's works, one after another, in just a few seconds.

In this way, the creator uses the AI-generated images as a reference to design new details such as facial expressions, hairstyles, and ornaments that match the image of the story.

The designs for the two new characters were selected through a selection process.

Then, based on the name that was being worked on in parallel with the design of the new character, it was finally time to start the drawing work.

In the drawing, the work was divided into two people, one in charge of "backgrounds and frame divisions" and the other in charge of "portrait painting".

Of these, the background person in charge draws on actual paper, and the person in charge of drawing draws on a tablet device.

In the end, the two images were digitally combined into a single manuscript, giving it new life.

Resurrection Black Jack

A completion debriefing session was held on November 11.

Makoto, who had described his challenge to his father, Osamu Tezuka, the "god of manga," as "terrifying," had a relieved and relieved expression on his face.

Makoto Tezuka
: "As you can see, Black Jack is finally back, and it's a very modern theme and a work that is typical of Black Jack that properly incorporates the problems that will arise in the future."

The completed story is Maria, a patient who has been transplanted with an artificial heart = a mechanical heart.

The story is about Black Jack, who received a request from Maria's father, Kawamura, to confront the patient's abnormality.

Makoto Tezuka
: "First of all, I want you to read the book with a blank slate, without thinking about anything, and I think it's okay to have a variety of opinions, and we want to hear those voices frankly."

Director Hayashi, who participated in the production, also recalled, "It was an interesting game."

Kaizo Hayashi:
"I think it was a great experience to be stimulated by AI for creativity, and I felt like the light of the future that I, humans, and AI have. I think that by working hard with AI and teaming up, we will be able to come up with more interesting works."

AI × Humans Its Evaluation

The magazine in which the work appeared was released on November 11 and was picked up by people of all ages.

At the Chinese restaurant, which Osamu Tezuka frequented during his lifetime, fans gathered to talk about their impressions of the new work.

"The 'smell' of Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack was clearly felt."

"There was something typical and boring that I had read before."

There were other opinions such as "too much stuff" and "there are too many frames", but they all shared the feeling that "I really wanted to read the new Black Jack, and I'm glad I did."

There was a heated discussion about the analog feel of the magazines he picked up, and considering what makes him unique.

Has AI been able to enhance human creativity?

Did you get closer to the "god of comics"?

The challenge of the possibilities of AI has only just begun.

(Broadcast on "Good Morning Japan" on November 11)

available on NHK Plus (for this project, from around 22 minutes and 30 seconds) Distribution deadline: 12/4 (Monday)
until 7:45 am

Naoro Shimada of the Science and Culture DepartmentJoined
the bureau
in 2010 and worked at the Hiroshima, Shizuoka, and Fukuoka bureaus before joining the current department.
Currently, he is in charge of digital fields such as AI and the metaverse in the IT team