Anime and I go way back. Growing up on a healthy diet of daily Sailor Moon episodes as a kid, my infatuation with pretty superheroes with disproportionately large eyes evolved into a shamefully dorky past time in middle school and high school. I had found my place among the “anime crowd.” And like any highly addictive live-action show, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the characters of a well-crafted anime.
However, I do know how to distinguish reality from 2-D.
In this New York Times article, writer Lisa Katayama has uncovered a very peculiar relationship. Nisan is a 37-year-old Japanese man whose obsession with a particular anime character has led him to treat a pillow of said character as his girlfriend. He carries her around at all times, buys her lunch, and even talks to her as if the pillow is real:
“Nisan knows she’s not real, but that hasn’t stopped him from loving her just the same. ‘Of course she’s my girlfriend,’ he said, widening his eyes as if shocked by the question. ‘I have real feelings for her.'”
As it turns out, Nisan isn’t the only one with a 2-D complex. Apparently, 2-D love is a thriving subculture (of otaku culture – the obsession with anime, manga and video games), which may be possibly indicative of some deep-seated cultural issues between opposite sex communication. The truth is more than a little heartbreaking:
“‘Of course I want to get married,’ he said as we drove back to West Hachioji station listening to his favorite Eurobeat CD. ‘But look at me. How can someone who carries this around get married? People are probably wondering what psychiatric ward I escaped from. I would think the same thing if I saw me.’ He widened his eyes in self-ridicule, then, the next moment, his expression became somber. ‘I’m pretty conflicted inside. People say there are some otaku who don’t want to get married, but that’s not true. Some have so little confidence that they’ve just given up, but deep inside their souls, they want it just as much as anybody else.'”
Photo (top) courtesy of www.anime-wallpapers.ws; photo (bottom) by Masato Seto for The New York Times