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Bring iconic Japanese characters to life with AR in Search

April 19th, 2021

We all need a bit of escapism sometimes, and there’s nothing like a blast from the pop-culture past to do the trick. Today, we’re bringing characters from classic Japanese anime, games, and TV shows to life — from Pac-Man to Hello Kitty — with augmented reality (AR) in Search.

Japan’s anime and video game culture emerged between the 1950s and the 1980s, like comic books, gaming arcades, and home TVs and consoles boomed. But it wasn’t just a Japanese phenomenon. The most iconic characters caught people’s imaginations around the world, and they’re still hugely popular today.

 

Which animated icon is most searched on Google? Pac-Man leads the pack by a long way: worldwide search interest in the hungry dot-gobbler is more than double the next most-searched character, Hello Kitty. What might surprise you is that the top country for search interest in Pac-Man over the past five years was…Peru. Hello, Kitty is most searched in the Philippines.

When it comes to the broader trends, anime wins out. It’s more popular than video games worldwide, with interest for anime climbing to its highest peak on record in the past month. That’s pretty amazing — and in fact, search interest for “anime Sugoi” (or “anime is amazing”) has spiked 2,300% in the past five years globally.

An animated world map showing search interest in anime characters over the past five years

Now, you can have these characters do their cute thing right in front of your eyes. Take a break to watch ghosts chasing after Pac-Man or Gundam swoop in your living room! Characters that are viewable in AR include Evangelion, Hello Kitty, Gomora, Gundam, Pac-Man, and Ultraman. (For die-hard otaku who can read Japanese, check out our Japanese blog with the full list.)

An animation showing how the Japanese anime characters will look in augmented reality on Google Search

How to access and share:

Search for one of the characters on Google using a mobile device and tap “View in 3D” to rotate or zoom in and see it up close. You can then bring the characters from outer space into your space with AR and turn up your volume to hear Hello Kitty deliver a cute message or Pac-man’s retro sound effects.

  • Android: Search for “Hello Kitty” or one of the 14 characters on the Google app or any Android browser and tap “View in 3D.” You can see 3D content on devices with Android 7 Plus and you can see AR content on ARCore-enabled devices.
  • iOS:  Search for “Hello Kitty” or one of the 14 characters on the Google app. 3D and AR content is available on iOS 11.0+ devices.

You can also create AR videos — or recreate your favorite scenes — with the recording option. Don’t forget to tag your photos and videos on social with #Google3D.