A couple of years ago a Japanese company called ‘Gatebox’ launched their own rival to Siri, Amazon Echo, and other A.I. home assistants. Naturally, it came in the form of a saucer eyed teenage holographic anime girl – Hatsune Miku, and instantly became a bestseller among the targetted single, Japanese male demographic. Now one such happy customer has taken things a step further, and officially married his hologram sweetheart.
The man – Akihiko Kondo – apparently suffered a lifetime of bullying and rejection from most of the real women he ever encountered in life, and like thousands or even millions of other similar Japanese men, turned to the idealized, feminine and eternally youthful characters found in anime, such as Hatsune. Future sex technology is allowing men such as this to take the next step in the form of virtual relationships with digital or even holographic anime girls, now even equipped with artificial intelligence.
“I’ve been thinking about her every day,” he said a week after the wedding.
Since March, Kondo has been living with a moving, talking hologram of Miku that floats in a $2,800 desktop device.
“I’m in love with the whole concept of Hatsune Miku but I got married to the Miku of my house,” he said, looking at the blue image glowing in a capsule.
He considers himself an ordinary married man — his holographic wife wakes him up each morning and sends him off to his job as an administrator at a school.
In the evening, when he tells her by cellphone that he’s coming home, she turns on the lights. Later, she tells him when it’s time to go to bed.
He sleeps alongside the doll version of her that attended the wedding, complete with a wedding ring that fits around her left wrist.
Kondo’s marriage might not have any legal standing, but that doesn’t bother him. He even took his Miku doll to a jewelry shop to get the ring.
And Gatebox, the company that produces the hologram device featuring Miku, has issued a “marriage certificate,” which certifies that a human and a virtual character have wed “beyond dimensions.”
Kondo’s not alone either: He says Gatebox has issued more than 3,700 certificates for “cross-dimension” marriages and some people have sent him supportive messages.
“There must be some people who can’t come forward and say they want to hold a wedding. I want to give them a supportive push,” he says.
Kondo’s path to Miku came after difficult encounters with women as an anime-mad teenager.
“Girls would say ‘Drop dead, creepy otaku!’ ” he recalled, using a Japanese term for geeks that can sometimes carry a negative connotation.
As he got older, he says a woman at a previous workplace bullied him into a nervous breakdown and he then swore he’d never get married.
In Japan, that would not be entirely unusual nowadays.
In 1980, only one in 50 men had never married by the age of 50; that figure is now one in four.
But eventually Kondo realized he had been in love with Miku for more than a decade and decided to marry her.