I you my Vir­tual Girl­friend

Are fic­tional 2D com­pan­ions bet­ter than the real thing? has hu­man-to-hu­man in­ter­ac­tion be­come ob­so­lete? tech­nol­ogy AND cul­ture blur the line be­tween fan­tasy AND re­al­ity

FHM (Philippines) - - PULSE - words CHISE AL­CAN­TARA il­lus­tra­tions MELVIN CALINGO

in2009, a man who calls him­self Sal9000 mar­ried his long-time part­ner, Nene Ane­gasaki, a video game char­ac­ter from a pop­u­lar dat­ing-sim­u­la­tion game, Love Plus. While the mar­riage wasn’t legally bind­ing, Sal9000 still wanted to prove his love for his wife. He stated in an in­ter­view with the press at his wed­ding: “I love this char­ac­ter, not a ma­chine. I un­der­stand 100 per­cent that this is a game. I un­der­stand very well that I can­not marry her phys­i­cally or legally.”

Be­fore you chalk this one up to Ja­pan be­ing Ja­pan, it might be im­por­tant for you to know that this isn’t an in­ci­dent iso­lated in the coun­try. Back in 2010, a Korean man called Lee Jin-gyu mar­ried a body pil­low. He had an image of Fate Tes­tarossa, one of the mag­i­cal girls in the show Ma­hou

Shoujo Lyri­cal Nanoha, printed on the pil­low. Lee Jin-gyu took his wife pil­low on dates in restau­rants and theme parks de­spite the cu­ri­ous eyes that fol­lowed them.

You have to ask: what kind of one-way re­la­tion­ship would that be?

A CULT AND A CUL­TURE

There is a move­ment in Ja­pan pro­mot­ing the idea that 2D char­ac­ters are bet­ter part­ners than ac­tual hu­man peo­ple. Led by Toru Honda, 47, the group has been hard at work con­vinc­ing its brethren of 2D-lov­ing males and fe­males to not be ashamed of their life choices. Honda courts con­tro­versy in the otaku cul­ture by paint­ing all of its sup­port­ers as the out­casts of so­ci­ety.

Honda’s mo­ti­va­tion is to use this out­cast stereo­type of the otaku to em­power its mem­bers to over­throw the ma­jor­ity. Honda wrote in his book, Denpa Otoko (trans­lates to The Ul­ti­mate Otaku Teacher), that “pure love is com­pletely gone in the real world.” He al­leges that such love is for old otakus past their prime. He be­lieves that there is no hope left for them be­cause life has screwed them over; there­fore they must start a new “love rev­o­lu­tion.”

In Honda’s world, lik­ing pre­pubescent 2D girls isn’t creepy and should be re­garded as a great ex­pres­sion of manhood since not ev­ery­one has the luck, priv­i­lege, and means to be in a happy and lov­ing re­la­tion­ship with a real woman.

SHE IS WHO I WANT HER TO be

But while Honda’s voice might be able to rally some peo­ple to join his cause to change the norm, some otakus are happy enough to just be able to es­cape the re­al­ity they are in.

El­liot, 29, a graphic artist for a startup com­pany, was di­ag­nosed with mal­adap­tive day­dream­ing. It’s a dis­or­der where he gets lost in his fan­tasies for a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time, los­ing his sense of re­al­ity. El­liot was a vic­tim of do­mes­tic abuse when he was just a child. He re­calls that he would put him­self in a trance-like state dur­ing the beat­ings where he would cre­ate his own imag­i­nary world. It is in that world that he also cre­ated Anna, his cur­rent girl­friend.

We met El­liot while he was on one of his dates with

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