The 2013 edition of Anime Festival Asia has an unusual contributor: Microsoft Singapore, which celebrated the event by creating a two-minute advert for itself. The video has gained over 2 million views since its debut last week.

The cartoon personifies Internet Explorer as Inori Aizawa, an anime girl who lives in the terrifying post-apocalyptic wasteland that is the Internet. When confronted by evil virus-robots she transforms into an all-action magical girl in the tradition of Sailor Moon.

Her superpowers include an antivirus shield, all-seeing browser windows and, erm, rocket boots, which represent the browser’s incredible speed, or something. The short ends with Inori successfully fending off her foes (the biggest of which is red and suspiciously fox-like) with a barrage of lasers, leaving nothing but a gaping crater in the surrounding Internet.

Today Online provides some details about the short’s background. The main character was created by Low Zi Rong of the design company Collateral Damage Studios, and arose from a tradition in fanart in which items of software are personified as anime characters: fans have depicted Firefox, Chrome and Opera in this way, and Inori’s creator decided that it was time for Internet Explorer to have its own anime hero. The character was not officially endorsed to begin with, but this changed when Jonathan Wong of Microsoft Asia-Pacific approached CDS in the hopes of using Inori in marketing.

The animation itself was made by the CACANi (“Computer Assisted Cel Animation”) research group of Nanyang Technological University. The short does not contain a credits list, but the CACANi Animation Facebook page currently contains a number of behind-the-scenes tidbits.

Inori also has her very own Facebook page, where you can read her updates:

(Disclosure: Nanyang Technological University is an advertiser on Cartoon Brew.)

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