In Japan, a new subculture has developed of men carrying on romantic relationships with pillow girlfriends. As reported in a recent New York Times article, these 2-D lovers, are a subgroup of otaku: the obsessive fanaticism around anime, hentai (a cross between anime and role playing video games), manga (Japanese comic-books,) and video games. These 2-D girlfriends usually come in the form of pillow cases featuring anime depictions of pubescent girls in erotic poses. And just like the range of pictures on the pillow cases, from innocent to pornographic, these human 2-D lovers come in a wide variety. Some merely like to sleep surrounded by several pillow girls. One man boasts as many as 150 pillow covers at home. Others are monogamous with specific characters, treating their pillow people like true girlfriends, taking them to dates and dinner. In general, these men know these pillow lovers aren't real people, however, they feel that their romantic love for these 2-D girls is tangible.
Many believe the rise of this culture is a result of the sexually repressed and highly structured Japanese culture. In Japan, more than 25% of unmarried men and women between 30-34 are virgins, while half of all Japanese men and women claim they aren't going out with anyone. Last year, one of the best selling books was a manga illustrated guidebook detailing ever step of a relationship, from meeting to marriage.
robotic love doll recently unveiled at the AVN convention.
For Honda, a 2-D relationship can be more passionate than a real one. The key is to re-train your imagination in order to connect feelings of love with 2-D characters. Some even see this reprogramming as a kind of spiritual training, teaching yourself to appreciate alternative form of happiness. And perhaps it can work, as some claim to be happier in the 2-D world, wanting only to be left alone. However, Honda only advocates this lifestyle for men like him, who have passed the point of no return as far as finding a human partner.
Honda encourages otaku enthusiasts to be proud of their preferences, and to flaunt their love in public. He believes 2-D lovers should live how they want without fearing rejection from the outside world. If only these 2-D lovers could be just as confident when trying to date, accepting repeated rejection without letting it affect their egos, then they may not need pillow girlfriends. Although, perhaps Honda more encourages his followers to flaunt their 2-D relationships as a display of defiance against the world this group feels excluded from.
In a sense, these pillow girlfriends are like coddling blankets or teddy bears for adults. And who knows. Perhaps in the case of extreme introverts, these pillows may even help some men experience things and even emotions they otherwise would not.
Read more at The New York Times.