"The objective is to disseminate information about Chinese culture. If one episode shows a traditional dance form, another sheds light on the ancient Chinese board game Go," says Zheng, who plans to release a 16-episode season this year.
Netizens are mostly overwhelmed by Tianyu's stunning beauty and the rich culture behind the stories she shares with them. Some urge her to post more frequently, as if her videos were part of some intriguing television drama they cannot wait to watch. Others keep wondering whether she is a digital avatar or a real person.
"Virtual icons have the amazing ability to grab people's attention. We are glad to be able to generate awareness about our tradition and culture through digital technology," says Zheng.
Tianyu is evidently not the first virtual human to have youths glued to their seats. Her contemporaries, ironically much younger than her in terms of history, include Ling and Liu Yexi.
Ling, labeled as "China's first virtual idol with guofeng (Chinese chic style)", made her debut on social media platform Sina Weibo and quickly won hundreds of thousands of followers. Her face resembles that of Mulan, a warrior protagonist of a Disney animation of the same name, which was based on the story of Hua Mulan, the Chinese female warrior from ancient times. Ling, however, is a Peking Opera enthusiast.