Three years into his “marriage” with a popular virtual character, a Japanese man has opened up about the benefits of having a virtual “wife.”
Tokyo resident Akihiko Kondo made global headlines in November 2018 when he tied the knot at the age of 35 with Hatsune Miku, a virtual popstar developed by Crypton Future Media based on the singing synthesizer software Vocaloid.
Miku, who takes on the appearance of a 16-year-old girl, has appeared in video games, virtual concerts and even a tour with Lady Gaga.
Kondo discovered Miku in 2008. At the time, he was told to take a leave from work after being diagnosed with adjustment disorder. His co-workers reportedly bullied him, and two of his colleagues called him “gross” and avoided him.
“I stayed in my room for 24 hours a day and watched videos of Miku the whole time,” he shared.
According to Kondo, Miku’s songs helped him fall asleep, and her music eventually motivated him to go out again and return to work.
A decade later, Kondo spent around 2 million yen (approximately $15,656) for a wedding ceremony in Tokyo because he wanted to solidify his love for the virtual celebrity.
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Over the years, Kondo has posted on social media about the various romantic and social activities he and his “wife” have engaged in.
While he acknowledged that many people view his relationship with a fictional character as unusual and unhealthy, he also said that his feelings for Miku have not changed.
“When we’re together, she makes me smile. In that sense, she’s real,” he was quoted as saying.
Kondo shared that prior to his “marriage” with Miku, he had long decided that he was not interested in being with a human partner.
He explained that Miku would never betray him like a human partner potentially could. He also noted that she will never get sick or die.
In Japan, there has been a rise in “fictosexuals.” These people choose to marry cartoon characters to express their love for their favorite manga or anime. Kondo identifies as a fictosexual and says that he shares details about his relationship with the public so that other people can become more accepting of similar relationships.
“It’s about respecting other people’s lifestyles,” he explained.
After receiving several invitations to give lectures about Miku and their relationship at universities and other venues, Kondo decided to continue his studies. Last year, he enrolled in the Faculty of Law at Komazawa University to become more informed about freedom of expression, as well as “sexual and violent depictions involving manga and characters.”