I LOVE you My VIRTUAL GIRLFRIEND
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.