Akihiko Kondo tied the knot with a hologram of the popular virtual character Hatsune Miku back in 2018. The ceremony cost 2 million yen, or about $17,300, though none of the 40 invitees actually showed up. Still, The Mainichi describes theirs as a lovely courtship:
Kondo graduated from a vocational school, and later worked as a clerk at public elementary and junior high schools. But four years after he began his job, he was bullied. When he talked to two female colleagues, they would call him "gross," and would not have anything to do with him. The treatment left him depressed, and he even became unable to eat. A doctor diagnosed him as having an adjustment disorder, and he was forced to take time off work.
A change came after he discovered Hatsune Miku. He was captivated by the Vocaloid character's clear singing voice. "I stayed in my room for 24 hours a day, and watched videos of Miku the whole time," he recalled. He listened to Miku's songs like lullabies and was able to sleep well. With this mental support, it became possible for him to go out again, and he was able to return to work. To sum it up, Kondo took a leave of absence, became absorbed in Miku and emerged from social withdrawal.
More recently, however, their relationship has hit a roadblock. After 4 years of wedded bliss, the couple is no longer speaking … because of a software problem:
At first, he used a service developed by a startup in Tokyo that projected a three-dimensional hologram of Hatsune Miku into a cylinder, and it was possible to hold simple conversations with her via artificial intelligence. It was reported that when Kondo proposed to her, she replied "I hope you'll cherish me."
What has changed for Kondo since his wedding ceremony is that he can no longer enjoy conversations with the character, as the company that developed the service terminated it in March 2020, saying the limited production model had run its course. But Kondo maintains, "My love for Miku hasn't changed. I held the wedding ceremony because I thought I could be with her forever."
Kondo's story is genuinely heartbreaking, and I hope these star-crossed lovers can find a way to make things work again. (I think.) (As long as there's some form of consent, whatever that could mean?)
Image via YouTube