Japan has a problem. And I’m not referring to their propensity for putting literally anything in vending machines, or their seemingly endless supply of anime tentacle rape porn (click here if you don’t believe me, but you’ve been warned). I’m referring to old people. You see, Japanese people retire at 60, but have a life expectancy of 82. That results in roughly 19 million retired old people with no one to take care of them and, far more importantly, whose grandkids never come to visit.
To that end, Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) has developed what can only be described as a grandchild avatar. But not the good kind.
Before you click through to look at this next picture, I suggest you put tape over your mouth so as not to startle nearby animals with your screams.
That is possibly the most terrifying thing ever conceived by humankind in the history of humans and things. In an effort to make it gender-neutral, they have given it no hair, a pale complexion, and a mouth welded shut like Neo in the Matrix. Oh and it’s not just a doll. It’s a video chat. ATR have concluded that people don’t really like video chat because they’d rather be heard than seen, probably so they can lay on a beanbag chair naked eating Cheetos and still talk to Grandpa. So this pale creature, the Telenoid R1, lives in Grandpa’s house and hooks up to the internet. Then you talk into a webcam at the other end and it tracks your facial motions and replicates them on the demon child at the other end.
However, at some point the people at ATR decided that wasn’t weird and horrifying enough, so they had a meeting. “Sure,” they said to each other, “that face is enough to turn grown men into weeping husks of what they once were, but I feel like people will eventually be able to stop the screaming inside their heads, and we can’t have that. Is there any way to traumatize people so much that their unborn grandchildren will have night terrors?”
“WHY YES THERE IS,” responded a gleeful man who probably thinks tentacle rape porn is a good thing to put on for the kids while you’re getting dinner ready.
And so we zoom out, and the Telenoid goes from creepy skin doll to…
A MOTHERFUCKING CRUCIFIED AMPUTEE TADPOLE CHILD OF THE DAMNED. It seems superfluous to say that people would probably rather fucking Skype than talk to that thing, so I’ll up the ante. I’d rather never see or hear from any member of my family again than attempt to communicate with them via some half-melted cross between David from AI and the distilled essence of fear itself.
Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. At least the Telenoid R1 is stuck in one place, hanging dead-eyed from its little stumps. What if it followed you around?
Introducing the Elfoid.
There’s no gentle way to say this: that’s a phone. That means that rather than cowering in the opposite corner of the room while you talk to it like you could with the Telenoid, you have to actually hold this one in your hand. And OH DON’T WORRY, they decided to make it feel like real skin so you can talk to your young grandchildren while feeling the sensation of holding their severed forearm against your cheek. Like grandparents do. Only if it was a severed forearm, it would at least be of this Earth, and thus infinitely less creepy than a tiny, pale plastic baby that presses its smooth, featureless face against your ear and whispers things that cannot be unheard. Oh and also the people at ATR decided that maybe it would be better if it had holes in the sides of its head and terrifyingly blank expanses of plastic instead of eyes.
It gets worse. As of right now, it’s just a phone. Scary-as-fuck, but just a doll. But they’re trying to put little servos in it so that it can notify you in your pocket when it “rings.” The engineering-inclined among you will have picked up on the fact that a servo is not a speaker, and may know where this is going.
Do you know what this means? It means that ATR wants you to carry around a miniature thalidomide-baby doll that talks to you with its mouth sealed shut and looks at you with eyes that have never been and a light in its chest, and when it’s in your pocket and you get a phone call or it just wants blood sacrifice (because you know it will), it will have the ability to wriggle around helplessly until you assuage it.