A new distortion plugin that features sexually explicit anime imagery has the music production community divided.
The Nani production tool was developed by Los Angeles-based company WXAudio, who has called it "the first obscene anime distortion plugin." It features six modes of distortion with drive and color controls and a depiction of a female hentai (an overtly sexualized style of anime and manga) character.
In a similar style to Dada Life's infamous Sausage Fattener plugin, the character depicted in Nani reacts to performance on its digital knob control. As the drive knob is turned up on the plugin, the character loses more and more of her clothes, and if turned all the way up, her breasts become fully exposed.
Naturally, the plugin has sparked some controversy within the music production community for its provocative material. As first reported by MusicTech, White Sea Studio's founder Wytse Gerichhausen was one industry figure that stood firmly against Nani, claiming that the hentai character undermines female engineers in the audio industry.
“They [all] say that there is no respect [shown] to female engineers in the audio industry," he said in a recent video. "A plugin like Nani is literally proving that."
“Let’s be absolutely clear—I’m no puritan and this is not about pornography," added producer Dan Worall in his own video. "It’s about the mindset [of whether] a plugin interface is an appropriate place for pictures of boobs.”
Worall's video took the analysis even deeper, citing a 2019 study by The Musician's Union on sexual harassment in the United Kingdom's music industry. According to the study—which did not disclose the genders of its participants—48% of musicians have experienced sexual harassment at work and 85% of victims did not report the abuse “primarily due to the culture of the industry."
YouTuber Gunsoww had a different opinion on the Nani controversy. His own demo video, titled "The COOLEST Distortion Plugin Ever," shared a generally favorable review of the plugin. Gunsoww praised the plugin's features.
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"I genuinely like the sound and settings," he said. "It’s really cool, it’s cheap, and come on, you get to see boobs while you’re producing."
Music producer QB!K also reacted positively to the hentai animation. "One of the most fun features of the distortion is the animation when you turn up the drive," he said. "Probably one of the best plugins in [the $20 range] in terms of something I’m going to use a lot and not just forget about, and it’s not just like a one-time gimmick, you know?"
On Nani's official website, WXAudio brands the plugin in a straightforward manner:
The controversy surrounding the branding has grown over the course of the last two weeks, as sharply opinionated reviews and demos of the plugin continue to appear on social media and the web at large.
"This is why women don't think they're respected in the music industry," one critic wrote in a scathing tweet.
Nani's creator, Reddit user u/bluebo, shared the inspiration behind the plugin and its release in a Reddit post one month ago.
"My main goal for NANI was to make a flashy and fun take on plugins in a new era of memes and younger producers," he wrote in the post, wherein he also shared free download codes. "While NANI is a bit ridiculous, sonically it can definitely compete with other distortion plugins on the market."