Babies on Board, or 新生 (Xin Sheng, which literally means "new life"), is Mediacorp's latest Channel 8 drama for the 9pm slot.
What's it about?
The drama centers around a gynecologist, Pang Shi Yun, who is having problems conceiving.
As the show progresses, it focuses on her struggles and that of her patients, with stories regarding risky pregnancies and failed IVF procedures, highlighting the painful loss that couples go through.
While you would expect this show to strike a chord with couples and those who can identify with the troubles of having children, something from the show had been getting attention for a different reason.
Specifically, this photo that was uploaded six months ago onto Channel 8's Facebook page, offering a sneak peek on the up-and-coming drama serial.
This costume references an existing character. It belongs to Hatsune Miku, the Japanese fictional songstress that is the face of a voicebank software known as Vocaloid.
While the voice in the software was provided for by a real voice actress, Miku's image provides an identity to the voicebank.
Music producers can purchase this programme to make vocals for their music. Different voices are also available for sale separately.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="250"] Image via Wikipedia[/caption]
This particular iteration of the costume, worn by the actress Ya Hui, is specifically the "Snow Miku" version -- it is literally a winter-inspired version of the original costume.
A bit of history: The idea for Snow Miku was originally created in an event known as the Sapporo Snow Festival in 2010.
Since then, a Snow Miku festival has been held every year, with a different theme and costume selected every year via an online competition.
So, in terms of how cosplayers approach this character, it is a big deal.
What's the fuss?
As you can see, Ya Hui's costume was clearly emblazoned with the word "VOCALOID", meaning that this wasn't just adapted from the original outfit.
It was the costume for the character, even though Ya Hui wasn't wearing the same kind of wig.
If she had, she should have worn a wig which had long, white twin tails with blue finishing at the ends.
Episode Context (spoilers)
So, here's the context as to why the actresses were wearing the costumes.
In episode nine, Ya Hui's character, Xin Yue, has become a surrogate mother to Jesseca Liu's character Shi Yun.
However, Xin Yue is constantly being surveyed on via CCTVs in her house.
Xin Yue then asks her friend (and later, photographer) to sneak into the house with her help and assist in replacing the CCTV feed with a fake video footage of her sleeping on the sofa.
When Shi Yun takes a look at the CCTV footage later on her tablet, she sees the fake footage and is convinced Xin Yue is resting at home.
Truth is, Xin Yue is long gone doing some modeling work with her partner, Niki, who's played by Yap Hui Xin.
While you have Ya Hui decked out in the grey-blue "Snow Miku" costume, Yap's costume is the Sakura version of the Miku costume, the only other official seasonal version of the holographic songstress' outfit.
Yap had also featured the cosplay on her Instagram prior to the broadcast of the episode.
With the uncensored "VOCALOID" label on the costume and the inaccurate wigs, this has some fans and cosplayers up in arms over the inaccurate portrayal of their favourite character.
Unflattering look at cosplay
While some had already suspected that it might be due to copyright, the cosplay community still felt that Channel 8's adaptation was done in a poor taste, rather than a well-meaning nod to cosplayers.
It was more like appropriation.
It seemed that it was much preferable if the show had either:
1) put in more effort to make the actresses look more like the characters the costumes belonged to or
2) did something more generic -- which is something they had already done throughout episodes in the show with both actresses.
As to why Channel 8 would suddenly take a costume wholesale instead of sticking to the generic outfits and wigs they had already featured so far is baffling. It's a question only the show can answer.
If anything, they had somehow made younger folks turn their attention to a Mediacorp show, which they wouldn't have watched or heard about otherwise.
Maybe that's a success story in itself.
Top image via Toggle