Love in 2D

Discuss

77 Responses to “Love in 2D”

  1. Downpressor says:

    12 years in Japan and I’m constantly amazed at the new and interesting filters installed in the gene pool.

  2. Halloween Jack says:

    I wouldn’t take it this far, but I’ve gotten crushes on comic book characters before. You get the right artist, the right writer, and you just want to sidle up to her during a big-ass battle and say, “So, uh… you doing anything after we save the world?”

  3. seriesoftubes says:

    It’s not a phenomenon! It’s a handful of guys who do weird things! Don’t judge all of Japan on quack journalism!

  4. Gloria says:

    “@28 – the fact the irony didn’t jump off the page and punch you in the face”

    Maybe because it wasn’t that good? :) Your first statement read true enough that I took the rest of your post seriously.

    That and the fact that there are way too many people online who are completely and utterly un-ironic about themselves and their beliefs — like the people you were mocking in your first post. I’ve read enough out there that I don’t take logic or rationale for granted.

    I’ve just learned that it doesn’t hurt to ask.

    Also, I asked why nationality matters in the comprehension of irony. Your answer, to be sure, was a cutting remark that sliced me to the core, but it didn’t really answer my question.

    Anyway, if summoning an articulate response is so arduous, just answer with something else that calls me an idiot and let’s call it a day, shall we?

  5. JorgeBurgos says:

    This article is absolute rubbish.

    34% of Japanese between the age of 30 and 34 are virgins? Give me a break. Not even WaiWai would get away with made up statistics like that, but all you suckers fell for it.

    The real story here is what is happening to professional journalism at the NYT.

    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2009/07/27/nemutans-revenge-some-fact-checking-and-reaction-to-the-nyt-story-on-anime-fetishists/

  6. the Other michael says:

    I’m finding a hard time (no pun intended) believing that bust belongs to a 10- or 12-year old.

  7. Clay says:

    It’s easy to say this is incredibly sad; it’s easy to say this is insane, but it’s a lot harder to begin to figure out what’s actually going on here at a societal level.

    The degree of personal alienation involved in both the 2D love and hikikomori movements is something even those of us Westerners who consider ourselves lonely may have difficulty parsing. I don’t want to make sweeping generalizations about Japanese culture — for all its perceived homogeneity, it’s still very diverse — but whatever cultural forces are at work here, I think it’s a lot more productive for everyone to try to go beyond the existential revulsion to begin to examine what shapes these sad souls.

    Good answers will be hard to come by. But good questions are a place to start.

  8. Anonymous says:

    what
    the
    fuck
    ?!?

    captcha: indomable displays

  9. Francesco Fondi says:

    Don’t worry Usonia. The pillow photo is staged. This phenomenon started 15 years ago but 99% of MOE fans would never take a “REAL” walk with their MOE cushion (usually these photos are staged by otakus for their own blogs).

    Nisan is the legendary “SO RONERY” 2/4chan super star

    http://www.atalude.net/2007/07/27/word-of-the-day-ronery/

    http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d38/Moniques3Monsters/more%20funnies%2010/ronery1.jpg

  10. peterbruells says:

    @3 While that style doesn’t appeal to me, the character shown doesn’t look like a little girl to me. Well, at least I don’t know any girls who have breasts like those.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Would he be in jail in England?

  12. Halloween Jack says:

    On second thought, after reading the NYT article and noting the ages of the characters… not so much.

  13. grimc says:

    @jtegnell

    I don’t know anybody who has relatives buried here at all. Everyone, and I mean everyone, gets cremated

    And the cremated remains are then ________.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s romantic.

  15. benher says:

    Oh joy! More westerners come to unleash their moral cabal against my country… and look! They’ve brought rope with them!

  16. Anonymous says:

    “Just take a look to the over 40 comments of this post. Does anyone asked himself: is this a real phenomenon or just the classic “newpsaper invetend phenomenon” that usually is related to just few people (or just one crazy freak)?!”

    Exactly. WaiWai, the English-language gossip column from the Mainichi that is the supposed “source” of this story, got in trouble for making up “kerrazy Japan” stories and only publishing them in English, because their Japanese readership would, quite rightly, call bullshit on this kind of story.

    That’s not to say the Japanese don’t lap up this kind of thing, just that it stays in the weekly National Enquirer-style magazines and everybody treats it with a pinch of salt. The problem with WaiWai was that foreign journalists would read it, see that it was attributed to the supposedly respectable Mainichi, and run it without fact-checking. Hence most of the so-called facts about kerrazy Japan that you’ve seen in Western media. Used schoolgirl panty vending machines? Fallacious crap. Naked sushi? Even more vacuous rubbish. The list goes on…

    There’s a lot of incredibly interesting things about Japan that are well worthy of discussion but “my god those hikkomori are so lonely and socially inept, I bet they date inanimate objects” isn’t one of them.

  17. 13tales says:

    Man, I found the loneliness in this story pretty heartbreaking.

    On one hand, yes, the cartoon-pedophilia and incestuous (he calls himself “nisan” ie. big-brother…ew) elements are definitely disturbing.

    On the other hand, loneliness really is pretty rampant in Japan sometimes. I’ve seen/felt it first hand, and I have a lot more going for me socially than these guys, aside from the language and culture barrier. Japan… so much to love here, and so much to make you really deeply worried for the future.

    I’m inclined to view 2d-love as someone described it above – an extreme coping mechanism, or a very desperate solution to a desperate need. Save your judgmentalism for something useful.

  18. emperormax says:

    Japanese culture is so fetishistic that it defies understanding in the West. “Forget it, Jake. It’s Japantown.”

  19. Will_Tingle says:

    Apart from the fact he’s “in love” with a CARTOON TWELVE YEAR OLD this story makes me sad.

    He’s devoted so much of his time to a being that isn’t real, who cannot communicate with him, and that will never talk back to him, not matter how much he talks to it.

    He’s crediting life experiences he could have clearly archived by himself to this non-entity, and his vision is clouded in such a way that this non-existent creature is stopping him from actually getting on with his life.

    I think we should all pray to God that he gets over his silly delusion…

  20. EeyoreX says:

    At first glance, this seemed increadably weird and sad and alien and icky to me.

    Then it occurred to me that plenty of people here in the western world are marrying fictional caracters and devoting their entire life to them, too.
    It has been going on for ages, literally, and is definatley not frowned upon by our society. So who are we to judge?

  21. Anonymous says:

                       ∩  ∩
                       | | | |
                       | |__| |
                      / 一 ー \
                     /  (・) (・)  |
                     |    ○     |
                     \__  ─  __ノ 

  22. SkullHyphy says:

    Don’t forget he took the name of the character’s brother. So, you know, there’s more issues to contemplate.

  23. Anonymous says:

    #40 Just take a look to the over 40 comments of this post. Does anyone asked himself: is this a real phenomenon or just the classic “newpsaper invetend phenomenon” that usually is related to just few people (or just one crazy freak)?!

    I don’t know, I did indeed read Lisa’s article over and over in order to try to understand all this fuss you’re making and, to me, it doesn’t necessarily talk about armies of middle aged guys strolling around in public with their cute cushions; it is more about guys who love some manga/anime characters, be them in the form factor of a cushion or printed on paper or on a computer screen. I think you should make yourself a favor and read that article once more.

    #40 For example: Telling that a character is 10 or 12 is catchier that not telling her real age (who will take time to read the wiki after all?!).

    Well, man, it makes a huge difference and it’s a good practice to state such facts. One thing is to fantasize about humping Gwyneth Paltrow, one thing is to fantasize about humping her 5 years old daughter Apple. Former’s okay, latter is for sickos. Do you get the difference?

  24. sylkworm says:

    @13Tales, it’s a cultural thing. I would ask you not to be too judgmental. They do something similar in Vietnam and Guangzhou. The husband calls the wife “em” or “mei” (little sister), and the wife calls the husband “ahn” or “ge” (big brother). It purely a term of endearment and doesn’t have the incestuous overtones you’re thinking of.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand what the problem is, it’s just an adult-oriented teddy bear. What he does with his security-blanket/pillow is his business.

    Oh, and to #30 Paradesign – there’s a French movie named “Monique” about a man who orders a Real Doll in a drunken stupor after his wife leaves him.

    Saw it on Australian TV (yay SBS!); it’s quite clever, and very funny too.

    http://www.amazon.fr/Monique-Albert-Dupontel/dp/B00006H30P/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1248433131&sr=8-1

    Of course, being in Europe, that edition will be region-locked to DVD zone-2, so might have to rip or pirate it to watch in a different region. (North America is region #1)

    cheers,
    Not Queen Mab

  26. Ray Maurwa says:

    Good to see everyone jumping on the properly censorious bandwagon…

  27. Gloria says:

    “He’s devoted so much of his time to a being that isn’t real, who cannot communicate with him, and that will never talk back to him, not matter how much he talks to it.”

    If you think that’s “sad”, you’re missing the point of the article. The men who do this choose it *because* of the lack of judgment and demands. It’s pressure-free. Read it.

    “I think we should all pray to God that he gets over his silly delusion…”

    I don’t want to be an atheist asshole (but I am), but is that supposed to be ironic?

    I can’t say I’m not raising an eyebrow at this, but seriously, I’m not that bothered. Even the apparent prepubescence of the characters is fine, because they’re not real children or images of real children. Assuming the presence of a “slippery slope” is the same illogical bias some people apply to pornography and other sexual interests in general.

    As long as they don’t harm anyone, I’m OK by it. They do what fits their life. I’d rather they live this way and be happy and harmless than force themselves into a conventional but ill-fitting relationship and end up hurting not only themselves but other women (or men).

  28. Anonymous says:

    I get an odd feeling that this is going to cause even more people to look down on otaku culture. Heck, if my parents read this article (they know I like anime), they’d probably think I was just like Nisan, except I lacked a pillow. >.>

    All in all, though I may not swing that way, I don’t really look down on them. It’s an awkward part of Japanese (and American, though I guess not as much) society. Unfortunately, a lot of people lack the willpower to actually accept it.

    Hopefully this sort of thing doesn’t get blown wildly out of proportion and start making people go “DOWN WITH ANIME!” on us.

  29. Mojave says:

    Also, what happens if two guys fall in love with the same pillow character? A pillow fight?

    pun intended.

    ….oh and 2nd and 3rd on the commenters who mentioned that no 10 yr. old kid has breasts like those.

  30. oheso says:

    Yeah, just a bit “lost in translation” here. Only the cultural parts. (I don’t know anyone like this, but I think Lisa has done a good job. Anyway … )

    “Nisan” isn’t a name as such. It means “older brother” and is used in lots of contexts. For example, what a hooker calls her john. Although the abbreviated, familiar form at use here would probably be limited to someone who was literally someone’s older brother.

    All of which says nothing about the presence of a (fictional) girl who is “10, maybe 12 years old” in an X-rated video game. At the risk of cashing in all my multicultural cred at once, I believe that Japanese society as a whole might benefit from having a bright light shone on certain portions — but I leave it to the Japanese to best decide how to handle that. (And please, don’t generalize about Japanese society from these extremes!)

  31. chris says:

    This article brings many questions to mind…

    So does he sleep with the pillow under his head at night?
    Or do they spoon?

    Does he run the pillow case through the washing machine?
    Or do he wash by hand?

    I’d think this guy would benefit from psychiatric help.

    He’s in love with a printing of a character from a cartoon which depicts a 12 year old girl that’s in love with her older brother. So he’s a pseudopedoincestophile.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Anyone ever watched the movie ‘Weird Science’ or read about the US silicon based female creations. http://thefastertimes.com/unconventionalrelationships/2009/11/23/real-dolls-and-the-men-who-love-them/
    or watched the U Tube robot girlfriend.
    http://www.gizmodiva.com/2008/12/07-week/ What this indicates; this emotion/physical disconnect is not just a Japanese phenomenon.

  33. Ray Maurwa says:

    I question why this story had to run in the NYT, other than for maximum exploitative effect.

  34. sylkworm says:

    I don’t really understand why everyone’s getting so worked up. The guy’s not hurting anyone. What’s it matter to you that he has a fixation on a pillow? It’s no less healthy than being fixated on a religion, or a sports team, or your job, or a car, or going out and drinking yourself incoherent on a regular basis.

  35. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Note to self: autoclave Inuyasha action figure before next use.

  36. obeyken says:

    What @Clay said. Between this, and the suicide clubs, etc., what in sweet heck is going on in Japanese culture? Alienation and loneliness happens everywhere, but there are many ways to find help and learn to function in the world. Why is it that so many people in Japan are pushed to such extremes of escapism?

  37. Will_Tingle says:

    Gloria @ #18

    “I don’t want to be an atheist asshole (but I am), but is that supposed to be ironic?”

    You have to ask? you’re American aren’t you?

  38. jtegnell says:

    Did he really say “When I die, I want to be buried with her in my arms”?

    I don’t know anybody who has relatives buried here at all. Everyone, and I mean everyone, gets cremated.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Crazy Editor, Crazy Article.

  40. simonbarsinister says:

    > I think we should all pray to God that he gets over his silly delusion…

    There is something ironic about this statement…

  41. Bender says:

    Yes, who are we to judge a man because he loves a pillowcase with an image of a busty 10 year old little sister character on it?

    Perfectly healthy behavior. Back to your homes and places of business. Nothing to see here.

    On a separate note, he needs some sort of sponsorship by whatever stain remover he uses.

  42. Secret_Life_of_Plants says:

    Some people become Nuns and “Marry” Jesus.
    At least you can hold a pillow.

  43. Gloria says:

    @25: No, I’m Canadian. And you? I’m not sure why we’re asking, but I don’t want to miss out.

  44. Anonymous says:

    At least on the plus side, this guy is saving himself a lot of heartache and sadness when he gets dumped because of what he looks like and so on. I don’t blame him for doing this, as weird and as sad as it seems. He at least isn’t spreading disease or trying to be with someone because he is lonely. That can psychologically damage someone and even others. We all want someone, but the true question is, are we strong enough to live without it? I have for the past 30 years.

  45. Marcel says:

    A lot of people develop a crush on porn stars they’ve only seen on a screen. Or movie stars for that matter.
    We seem to be able to accept that more, because the screen depicts somebody that actualy exists somewhere.
    But the truth is that they are just as unatainable as a cartoon character would be.
    And you can call it 3D instead of 2D, but the fact of the matter is, the material is still being received on a flat 2D surface.
    Is somebody in love with a porn star or a movie star less of a freak?
    I had a huge crush on Ebony Ayes when I grew up (shit, I still do). And while I knew that it was a crazy adolescent fantasy, it did teach me to acknowledge and express my preferences without any inhibitions.

    Of course, if your preference happens to be 12 year olds, I do encourage you to acknowledge that, but I would actually prefer you’d express this particular desire towards printed nylon cushions more than anything else.

  46. paradesign says:

    Further investigation into the transference of real emotions to human representations will lead to the following interesting things…

    “Guys and Dolls” a doc about men who have relationships with RealDoll synthetic sex surrogates. It goes into the sexual, interpersonal and emotional sides of the phenomenon.

    “Lars and the Real Girl” a film based on the real life premise of “Guys and Dolls”

    “Sex and Love With Robots” a book that delves into the emotional issues associated with having relationships with machines.

    The BBC also did a RealDoll doc “Sex Dolls and Guys”, but I haven’t seen this one yet so cant really comment on it.

    Anyone know any more?

  47. Gloria says:

    @27: Hate to say it, but I’ve seen as-crazy if not crazier behaviour from human couples in love with each other (well, they call it “love”; I’d argue otherwise, considering the amount of abuse). It’s more common, I’d give you that.

  48. pato pal ur says:

    Eh he’s just a hikikomori who’s managed to claw his way out of his bedroom and have some semblance of a regular life. In that sense, he’s doing well. There are tens of thousands in worse shape than him in Japan who can’t have any sort of normal relationship with anyone.

  49. Anonymous says:

    “Sex and Love With Robots” a book that delves into the emotional issues associated with having relationships with machines. ”

    Is the author Gladia Delmarre?

  50. Anonymous says:

    Gene Wilder, in love with a sheep, in “Everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask”.

  51. abq halsey says:

    This article is the emotional equivalent of watching a pregnant 16-year old waiting out in front of a methadone clinic for her boyfriend. It fills you with a wonderful cocktail of soul-crushing pity and pants-shitting rage.

  52. Anonymous says:

    I really don’t see what’s the big deal. No matter how unconventional something is, I humbly believe that as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, they can do whatever they want to make them happy. Also, I think since “the 2-d love” is the new unknown phenomenon, people are just looking down upon it as “weird”, “creepy”, and “crazy”. I don’t support 2-d love 100%, but I think it is a viable option for real people who are sick of real people. Remember, Life with the love of fictional anime babe >>>>>>> Life with NO love. I would rather see someone live in their fantasy land happily than to see them going through Ikari Shinji Trauma. But then again, I would rather have that person interact with real people, get a real girlfriend, and live a more healthy, social live. It’s all relative. ^_^

  53. jtegnell says:

    GRIMC:

    …stuck inside large family markers, sort of large stone hollow blocks with an obelisk projection listing the names.

    I’d hardly call this burial. It’s not even below ground.

  54. Daemon says:

    Not a bad article overall, but you’re seriously oversimplifying “moe”… “moe” includes a hell of a lot more than 2D love and sexual fantasization — a lot of it is explicitly non-sexual.

    For the rest of the commenters, after checking the wikis, I’ll clarify a couple points:
    Nemu is an adopted, not biological, sister, and unless I’m entirely misreading the Japanese wiki, she’s a 3rd year highschool student. That’s the equivalent of grade 12, so she’s about 17-18.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe the NYT published this garbage. It even uses Mainichi’s now defunct WaiWai column as a source…

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I love WaiWai. I stopped reading Mainichi when they got rid of their raunchy, pun-filled translations and went to boring, straight news.

  56. Anonymous says:

    I’m as happy to sit back and armchair judge these guys as the next person, but I’m not sure it’s fair to judge Japan based on this.

    There’s plenty of American men buying sex dolls (as somebody mentioned above). And anybody who made the mistake of dipping even a toe in the Harry Potter fandom will likely recall the surprising numbers of middle aged American and British women who think they’re married to Severus Snape on the astral plane.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      the surprising numbers of middle aged American and British women who think they’re married to Severus Snape on the astral plane.

      True, except you chose the wrong gender.

  57. Anonymous says:

    is that her water and chopsticks?

  58. pinehead says:

    Oh sure, it’s one thing to hang out with a cartoon printed on a pillow. But if I take a photo of the hot girl at my dentist’s office and put her picture on a pillow, suddenly there’s detectives at my door. Geez, talk about double standards. 9_9

  59. techdeviant says:

    I don’t see how this is much different than the women who collect and take care of fake babies. I think that it would be nice to help all these people get past whatever they are trying to escape from, but its probably just not that simple or even helpful in all cases.

    I thought “Lars and the Real Girl” was a great movie.

  60. Anonymous says:

    “Yes, who are we to judge a man because he loves a pillowcase with an image of a busty 10 year old little sister character on it?”

    Oh Bender, the pillow you snuggle up to every night is a straw man.

  61. L33tminion says:

    The guy is crazy, but perhaps less miserable than he would be were he less crazy.

    I think it’s more interesting, psychologically, than just a simple delusion. Nisan doesn’t seem to think his 2D love is “a real person”, nor does he find other people’s reaction to his behavior incomprehensible. He’s simply a guy with a rather extreme psychological coping mechanism… but looking at the suicides and the people who never leave their rooms, I’d say that such a coping mechanism is better than not being able to cope at all.

  62. Anonymous says:

    To those questioning 12 year old girls having breasts…A drive near the local Middle School here in California would very rapidly change your mind. Call it more Hormones in the foods we eat…evolution…whatever.

    On topic…very sad. Very sad indeed. For godsakes if you go into a relationship with a fictional character you need to consider an alternative to living. I kid, I kid. But seriously, wtf.

  63. failix says:

    Yes… there are people out there, with different sexualities and fantasies than yours… disgusting, isn’t it?

  64. Will_Tingle says:

    SIMONBARSINISTER @ #26

    “There is something ironic about this statement…”

    shit, really?

  65. usonia says:

    Is it wrong of me to find this completely, unforgivably daft? I mean, yes, there is a vast gulf between Japanese & American culture, but this….I dunno. Stupid stupid. “I’ve experienced so many amazing things because of her…”? Because of a pillow? With a cartoon of a pubescent waif printed on it?
    What the heck?

  66. Anonymous says:

    You know, a few people with a preference that we might think is “weird” doesn’t bother me. After all, who hasn’t occasionally fantasized about a fictional character?
    What gets me is this:
    “more than a quarter of men and women between the ages of 30 and 34 are virgins; 50 percent of men and women in Japan do not have friends of the opposite sex.”
    WHAT?!?!?! THAT is the creepy part.

  67. IWood says:

    #23 posted by Antinous / Moderator:

    Note to self: autoclave Inuyasha action figure before next use.

    1. Use?

    2. Small puddle of molten plastic.

  68. grimc says:

    @paradesign

    Further investigation into the transference of real emotions to human representations will lead to the following interesting things…Anyone know any more?

    http://www.boingboing.net/2005/10/17/real-people-who-have.html

  69. redstarr says:

    The part that disturbs me is not that the “girlfriends” are 2D cartoon characters, but that they’re cartoons of little girls. If it was cartoons of obviously adult women, it would be a lot less unsettling. Even though it’s a fantasy that’s not harming any real live children, it worries me that these men are so fixated on what would be children if they were real.

  70. Pantograph says:

    I once had an amazing date with a Barbie doll.

    Of course I was out of my head on magic mushrooms at the time…

  71. Francesco Fondi says:

    @33 Damenon you are right, but why NYT or any other newspaper would publish an article about a so called “social phenomenon” without over-semplifications?!

    I imagine the author wrote a credible article but then the editors felt it needed more “spice” and started to cut here and there to make it more interesting for the readers…

    Without semplifications, especially when talking about a culture from another country, it’s quite difficult to catch readers attention.

    For example: Telling that a character is 10 or 12 is catchier that not telling her real age (who will take time to read the wiki after all?!).

    Don’t you think that “forgetting” to clearly state that a crazy guy like him is not common among MOE fans helps to make the article scandalistic enough to get readers attention?!

    Just take a look to the over 40 comments of this post. Does anyone asked himself: is this a real phenomenon or just the classic “newpsaper invetend phenomenon” that usually is related to just few people (or just one crazy freak)?!

    I ask to BB readers who live in Tokyo and frequent Akiba if he ever saw a person walking/dating a MOE cushion like Nisan?

    Nisan was quite famous on the net a couple of years ago as the “SO RONERY” otaku. If this is a real phenomenon why there aren’t other “2D lovers” featured in the NYT article?!

    After several years, I doubt that Nisan is still in love with NEMU, but of course the POWER OF LOVE is immense and maybe they are still living together an happy life. Or maybe he finally growed up and started to be in love real persons like Angelina Jolie or Megan Fox like millions of “normal” people. Who knows?!

  72. Stefan Jones says:

    My girlfriend Dragonella the Invisible Purple Wyvern thinks that’s deeply sad.

  73. Mojave says:

    Hard to believe this is from the same country that brought us the Bataan Death March.

  74. Will_Tingle says:

    @28 – the fact the irony didn’t jump off the page and punch you in the face

    @29 – yeah, but those people don’t usually take posters of their idols out to dinner…

  75. Lisa Katayama says:

    Wait, where did some of you get the idea that WaiWai was a source? Not true! Ok, carry on with your discussions.

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