Elderly storytelling android debuts in Japan

Japanese rakugo master Beicho Katsura III looks on as his android likeness chats with journalists.

Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)

The art of humorous storytelling in Japan, known as rakugo, isn’t as popular as it once was. But now an android has joined the ranks of comics who kneel on cushions while spinning out jokes.

The narrative droid is a copy of Beicho Katsura III, an 86-year-old rakugo comic recognized by the government as a Living National Treasure.

The Beicho Android, as it’s known, is the work of Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, creator of the Geminoid series of lifelike androids, and makeup artist Shinya Endo.

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