No one would have thought the debut of a virtual idol would gradually spin out of control like this.
Even though they switched the mid-term paper topic for first years in three departments at the last minute, none of the instructors at the Qi'an Academy of Music themselves dared to offer original comment on "Cocoon Breach." In terms of qualifications and stature, they were still inferior to Dina and Ming Cang. Even when someone wrote a review, it merely built on Dina's and Ming Cang's comments and sprinkled in a few of original thoughts. Are you kidding me? To contradict prevailing opinion at that time would be asking for a beating. That wasn't something they would sign up for.
You could frown on the epic style. You could even choose not to listen to the two movements. But you couldn't deny that they indeed caused unexpected, surprising ripples. Its influence wasn't limited to the music industry. The medical community was probably blown away by now as well.
After Ming Cang's speech in the Voice of Yanzhou broadcast, he held up a still photo to the camera. It was a picture Ming Cang had taken of his son Ming Ye when he had showed that flash of emotion while listening to "Cocoon Breach." Compared to the response of a healthy person, it wasn't that obvious. It resembled a slight shimmer in the gaze of someone with a cool personality. But considering Ming Ye had been suffering from the Hull virus for 12 years, it was a remarkable reaction.
The photo convinced people who thought Ming Cang was exaggerating. Ming Cang and wife and the two professors were also in the picture. It couldn't have been faked.
So it was a real photo.
Before he ended the webcast, Ming Cang wore a broad smile as he admired the picture. "Go get 'em, my little sapling. You must stay strong," he said.
There was nothing wrong with describing your son as a little sapling.
Just as Ming Cang had himself said, because of his son, he could no longer evaluate this virtual idol's debut and the creative team behind it, so he would no longer publish his reviews in Voice of Yanzhou. Commentaries published in the Voice of Yanzhou couldn't be driven by personal feelings. When the next movement was released, he would review it in a personal capacity. Maybe that would lead to more unexpected commentary.
"My thanks to Polar Light, the Polar Light project team, and the composer behind Polar Light. Even though I don't know who you are, I hope I can thank you in person after the entire series of songs is released." This was a sore point for Ming Cang—the fact that Duan Qianji still refused to identify the composer. But she had told him that there were two movements left. After the two remaining movements were released, Silver Wing would unveil the identity of the composer.
The fact that two movements remained was great news to Ming Cang. He couldn't wait. He'd also promised Duan Qianji that he would not pester her about the identity of the composer before the two movements were released. At the same time, he had made a veiled suggestion that Duan Qianji not front the project with another composer, which was common in the artistic community. Ming Cang didn't want to thank an imposter.
The public wasn't privy to the private communications between Ming Cang and Duan Qianji, but Ming Cang's final sentence during his live webcast got many people wondering.
Who was the composer he was referring to?
Did a single producer pen the two movements, "Divine Punishment" and "Cocoon Breach"? Not a team of composers?
This threw off people who had speculated that the songs were the handiwork of Silver Wing's Flying Pegasus cooperative.
If it was a single composer, then who was it? Such a talented composer couldn't be an unknown. Which Flying Pegasus master was it?
Yet industry insiders who were familiar with Silver Wing also speculated the musical style of the two movements suggested someone that didn't belong to Flying Pegasus, or at least not one of its best-known members.
Who exactly was it?
That was the natural focal point of the music industry, but outside of the industry, the medical community was obsessing over how the two movements stimulated Ming Ye's brain waves.
Word was that the Yanzhou government was assembling a research team to develop a cure to the Hull virus.
That afternoon, the hit entertainment show "Prairie Fire" interviewed a medical expert in its live webcast to provide context.
The producer of "Prairie Fire" had a keen sense for news. Ming Cang had just been a few sentences into his webcast when he'd sensed an opportunity. He had dispatched a staffer to investigate and splurged on an expert from the Yanzhou Academy of Science who could unravel the secrets behind the medical mystery for the viewing public.
Many people who were interested in Ming Ye's unexpected response—and skeptics as well—were glued to their screens.
"Many people know that sound waves serve as a stimulus to animals, and to some plants as well, for that matter. Some types of sound waves can advance plant growth. Others stunt growth or kill the plant altogether. Whether they can stimulate a plant hinges on their impact on its musically sensitive spots.
"Music is transmitted through rhythmic and flexible mechanical waves. When it travels through a medium, it also generates chemical and heat reactions. When music stimulates plant cells, the metabolic processes within the cells are also affected.
The Academy of Science professor even broke down the exact impact a piece of music had on a specific part of a plant. "In other words, every note in a piece, or a specific verse, will correspond with a specific amino acid in the plant. Protein is made up of amino acids. So from a biological perspective, a song is like a group of amino acids sequenced into a complete protein. When a plant is exposed to this protein—no, I mean a specific song—certain enzymes in the plant are activated and create certain biochemical reactions.
The professor spoke at length. Some of viewers could follow him. Others understood about half, which gave them a basic grasp.
Basically, he was saying Ming Ye's response wasn't embellished.
It was for real.
If plants and primitive animals could be stimulated, then humans were naturally even more responsive.
The Hull virus emerged during the Period of Destruction, while the two movements, "Divine Punishment" and "Cocoon Breach," were part of the "100-Year Period of Destruction" series. Was that the crucial link? Yet previous songs about the Period of Destruction didn't have the same effect. So it was still something inherent in the two movements.
Others had also tried to use sound waves to stimulate the brains of patients infected with the Hull virus, to see if these stalled machines could produce some feedback, to no avail. Now, researchers knew that music did make a difference—but it had to be the right music.
Just like substrates need to be matched with the right enzymes for conversions to take place.
"I'd really like to meet this musician who's threatening our livelihoods." The professor's tone was vindictive, but he wore a smile that was joyful and expectant.
Music and medicine were separate disciplines that minded their own business. But now that this composer had cracked an opening for researchers and pointed them in the right direction, the rest was up to the scientists. The development meant that there was a general strategy for treating a virus that posed a serious threat to mankind. Even though it wasn't clear when a cure could be devised, coming up with a strategy was a good thing. Now that the first step had been taken, the rest of the process was a matter of time.
This drew the attention of journalists across different beats, regardless of whether they took an interest in medicine and entertainment. This pertained to a human disease that hadn't been cured. Naturally, the reverberations were huge.
Reporters started scrambling.
"What about the story about Mi Yu and Andy Leo?" The cub reporter who had just filed a story about the creative teams behind the two hit virtual idols was in an awkward position.
"Who cares about that now? Let's hold the story. Hurry up and do as much reporting as you can about the two movements and the Hull virus, then file a story."
Thus, all the carefully engineered buzz about the two virtual idols was overshadowed by talk of Polar Light, "Divine Punishment," "Cocoon Breach," and the Hull virus after a few short days.
Inside the chairman's office at Tongshan True Entertainment, Song Shihua smashed the teacup that was a recent replacement.
Song Shihua was furious with himself. He should have delivered a knockout blow when the first movement was released.
Now it was too late.
They could try foul play within the Yanzhou entertainment industry, but the situation had evolved beyond the reach of his influence. The rise of Polar Light was now unstoppable.
What could he do?
Wait, wait—that was actually not a bad idea.