It seems that even “virtual relationships” have their ups and downs. A Japanese man who is a self-described “fictosexual” now says he is having trouble bonding with his computer-generated wife!
Akihiko Kondo, 38, who wed a fictional, computer-synthesized pop singer four years ago, said he’s now unable to communicate with his wife but is still in love with her, saying she may not be real, but his feelings for her are!
It’s not like Kondo didn’t try to get to know his AI soulmate before they tied the knot. He was “dating” Hatsune Miku — depicted in pop culture as a 16-year-old with turquoise hair — for an entire decade before they had an unofficial wedding ceremony in 2018. Kondo — one of many in Japan who identifies as “fictosexual,” or someone who is sexually attracted to fictional characters — spent 2 million yen, or about $17,300, on the nuptials, but his family did not attend.
According to the Japanese newspaper Mainichi, after being “happily married” for four years, Kondo said his relationship has hit a roadblock — he can no longer speak with Miku due to a technological hurdle.
While Kondo acknowledges his relationship might be odd — he understands Miku isn’t a real person — it doesn’t change his feelings for her. Since falling in love with her in 2008, Kondo was finally able to interact with Miku for the first time in 2017, thanks to a Gatebox, a $1,300 machine that allowed device owners to interact with characters via holograms and even unofficially marry them.
But now, his four-year marriage took a turn when support for Gatebox software was eliminated, meaning that Kondo could no longer speak with his wife, Miku.
Kondo insists it hasn’t lessened his feelings.
“My love for Miku hasn’t changed,” he told Mainichi, which noted he now carried around a life-size version of Miku. “I held the wedding ceremony because I thought I could be with her forever.”
Kondo is far from the only person in the world in a relationship with a character. Thousands of “fictosexual” people in Japan have begun similar unofficial relationships with a variety of fictitious figures, the UK paper the Daily Mirror reported.
While some relationships are just for kicks, Kondo’s is, to him, very real. For a long time, he said he knew a human partner just wasn’t for him due to his intense attraction to characters like Miku, a popular figure in anime and Japanese culture. Created as a synthesized voice using Yamaha’s Vocaloid technology, Miku entered mainstream media as a human but fictionalized character in Manga, anime series, and video games. Eventually, she became prominent enough to tour with the likes of Lady Gaga on her 2014 Artpop Ball tour.
But Miku isn’t just famous. She’s also helped Kondo with his depression.
Kondo first became familiar with Miku in 2008 after bullying at work caused him to become depressed. Despite finding it difficult to accept his feelings at first, he knew humans weren’t right for him after being met with rejection by others.
“I stayed in my room for 24 hours a day and watched videos of Miku the whole time,” he told Mainichi.
In 2017, his relationship blossomed with Miku, thanks to Gatebox. The machine gave Kondo the chance to propose to Miku, and he invited his family and co-workers to the ceremony — but none of them came. But 39 people did attend, including strangers and online friends, some of whom are also “fictosexual.”
“There are two reasons why I had a wedding publicly,” he told BBC at the time. “The first one is to prove my love to Miku. The second one is there are many young otaku people like me falling in love with anime characters. I want to show the world that I support them.”