I LOVE you My VIR­TUAL GIRL­FRIEND

FHM (Philippines) - - PULSE -

AREN’T you GO­ING TOO FAR?

It’s peo­ple like El­liot that Ed­ward, 22, in col­lege, and his peers love to hate on.

“I used to run an an­imé page that caters to rat­ing an­imé girls, known as wai­fus. It had over 15,000 likes be­fore it got shut down,” says Ed­ward, for­mer ad­min of a Face­book page called Your An­imé Waifu is Trash. “It was a fun page. My friends and I make fun of peo­ple who are fan­boy­ing to an­imé char­ac­ters way too much, ha ha!” says Ed­ward.

Ed­ward and his friends hated the fact that peo­ple could ac­tu­ally be that ob­sessed with fic­tional char­ac­ters. “We like an­imé as much as the next guy but there’s a healthy limit to lik­ing some­thing. It just makes us cringe when peo­ple who like our page be­come so an­gry that their wai­fus were made fun of. It’s just a fuck­ing an­imé and th­ese man-chil­dren [can’t] take a joke.”

Bran­don, a 24-year-old manga col­lec­tor and an­imé lover, some­times thinks that fic­tional char­ac­ters are more at­trac­tive than real girls, but he does have a real hu­man girl­friend. He has been steady with her for five years now. She un­der­stands his love for an­imé.

“She doesn’t re­ally care as long as I don’t spend all of my earn­ings on use­less stuff. If you ask her, she might be a big­ger an­imé fan than me. So­brang ad­dict niyan sa Yuri on

Ice (an an­imé about fig­ure skaters who hap­pen to be male ho­mo­sex­u­als),” shares Bran­don.

“The thing that makes an­imé girls so ap­peal­ing is that they can be any­thing you want them to be. I think the rea­son why dat­ing sim­u­la­tions are so pop­u­lar with

otakus is be­cause they give us a chance to some­how live out our fan­tasies of dat­ing our dream girl, or for some, just [sim­ply] dat­ing,” ex­plains Bran­don. “I re­al­ize that I’m re­ally lucky to have met my girl­friend. But I think I can sort of em­pathize with peo­ple who be­lieve that 2D girls are bet­ter than real ones. Ev­ery­one has dif­fer­ent pref­er­ences that they look for in a part­ner.” Anna. El­liot would sit in a cafe and chat with Anna while he sketches her in his lap­top. The sketches num­bered over a thou­sand, in­clud­ing some scanned pieces that were more than 15 years old. “I first met Anna when we were both 13 years old, we’re 29 now. We’re a lot more ma­ture and much hap­pier,” says El­liot.

Look­ing at El­liot’s draw­ings, we saw how they de­vel­oped through the years. When Anna was 13, she was a small framed Filip­ina with light brown skin and dark hair, wear­ing a loose sando, blue shorts, and a big smile. “I love an­imé so a lot of my artis­tic style comes from it. But when I first drew Anna, I just wanted her to look like a nor­mal Filip­ina girl. My par­ents put great value on our Chi­nese her­itage so it was dis­cour­aged that I made friends with Filipinos in gen­eral. My par­ents would never like Anna.”

El­liot’s more re­cent draw­ings show Anna as an adult. She is a lot more ma­ture look­ing yet still re­tained her very kind eyes. She wears a sando, tat­tered jeans, and a pair of san­dals. “I feel like I’m ma­tur­ing with her. Through the years I’ve drawn her in so many dif­fer­ent clothes, sce­nar­ios, in so many dif­fer­ent lights. And ev­ery time I would, I feel like I can’t draw her wrongly. Ev­ery draw­ing is her and all of them com­bined make the woman that I love.”

El­liot ac­tu­ally never in­tended to fall in love with Anna. El­liot’s par­ents would usu­ally pair him up with daugh­ters of other Chi­nese fam­i­lies when he was younger but he never re­ally saw a fu­ture with them. “She was my best friend grow­ing up; ac­tu­ally, she is un­til now. In fact, most of the trou­ble I got into was be­cause of her. She’s the rea­son why I went to art school. I re­ally grew a lot as a per­son and met so many in­ter­est­ing peo­ple when I was in col­lege. I be­came a lot more in­de­pen­dent and that’s when I re­ally got to think­ing that I was in love with Anna.”

We were cu­ri­ous and asked El­liot how or whether it was even pos­si­ble for him to con­fess to a girl like Anna. His quick an­swer was, he didn’t. “I’m not gonna pre­tend like she made that de­ci­sion for her­self be­cause I know I made her up. When I felt like I wanted to take my re­la­tion­ship with Anna to a whole new level, I just started lov­ing her in a dif­fer­ent way. It just felt more nat­u­ral af­ter I came to terms with my feel­ings for her—she was the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”

El­liot be­lieves that a big part of why their re­la­tion­ship is good is be­cause of his asex­ual na­ture. “I was never re­ally at­tracted to any­one else be­sides Anna. The girls that my par­ents matched me with were gen­er­ally re­ally nice and very pretty but I never felt any at­trac­tion to them or to any­one else. I think what re­ally helped my re­la­tion­ship with Anna is the fact that I’m not re­ally into phys­i­cal con­tact, [sex­ual nor other­wise]. But I do like be­ing ro­man­tic to­wards her and lov­ing to­wards other peo­ple in dif­fer­ent ways.”

We asked El­liot if we could pub­lish a picture of Anna, but he re­spect­fully de­clined. “The funny thing is, she’d prob­a­bly like that. She loves it when I show her off to other peo­ple but my par­ents have seen some of my draw­ings of her and they would lit­er­ally dis­own me if they found out I told you about them.”

SHE KEEPS ME TO­GETHER

El­liot also suf­fers from post-trau­matic de­pres­sion and at­tempted sui­cide mul­ti­ple times in his teenage years.

“She’s al­ways there to stop me,” says El­liot of his 2D girl­friend. But even if Anna has saved El­liot so many times in the past, he knows that his re­la­tion­ship with Anna isn’t healthy for his men­tal state and that to truly get bet­ter, he has to even­tu­ally stop re­ly­ing on her to “fix his prob­lems” for him.

“I’ve come a long way from what I was back then. I

“I think what re­ally helped my re­la­tion­ship with Anna is the fact that I’m not re­ally into phys­i­cal con­tact, [sex­ual nor other­wise]. but I do like be­ing ro­man­tic to­wards her and lov­ing to­wards other peo­ple in dif­fer­ent ways.”

know I’ve just been talk­ing to my­self when I’m with her. But de­spite ev­ery part of our re­la­tion­ship be­ing made up, I’m happy with her right now. And I just want to be happy with her for a lit­tle while longer,” says El­liot.

We won’t know for how long or if re­la­tion­ships with fic­tional char­ac­ters or ar­ti­fi­cially cre­ated in­tel­li­gence will ever be nor­mal. Maybe some­day, peo­ple like El­liot could have a real-life Anna vir­tu­ally cre­ated for him. Or, who knows, maybe by then it would be ro­bots cre­at­ing vir­tual hu­man girl­friends. No­body ever re­ally knows how the fu­ture will turn out.

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