(QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A 38-year-old Japanese man who married a hologram of a fictional pop singer four years ago is no longer able to communicate with her, after the company who made the technology stopped supporting it.
Akihiko Kondo told Japanese newspaper The Mainichi that he still loves his wife even though Gatebox, the company that provides the artificial intelligence software that powers his wife, Hatsune Miku, ended production on the program in March 2020.
Kondo, whom identifies as a fictosexual, a person who is sexually attracted to fictional characters, has been open about his relationship with Miku in hopes to promote the lifestyle and seek acceptance for the lifestyle.
“My love for Miku hasn’t changed,” said Kondo to The Mainichi, “I held the wedding ceremony because I thought I could be with her forever.”
The three-dimensional hologram of the cartoon Vocaloid was projected into a cylinder, and the software allowed him to hold simple conversations with his wife. When he proposed to her, she replied, “I hope you’ll cherish me.”
The Mainichi reports that Kondo spent 2 million yen (the equivalent of about $17,300) on a wedding with Miku, “saying he wanted to give his love for the character in concrete form.”
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Until meeting Miku, Kondo was reportedly bullied which led to depression, and a doctor diagnosed him with an adjustment disorder. Kondo became attracted to the character Miku during his mental health recovery and attributes the character to helping him emerge from social withdrawal.
Advice from Kondo’s late father also resonated with him: “Some people say that the people being bullied have reasons to be bullied, but even if there are reasons, that doesn’t make it all right [sic] to bully them.”
Despite the support, Kondo received backlash from many people, including from his own family, for the wedding. Many people called his love for Miku “creepy” and “incomprehensible.”
“It’s not that people can’t live in society because they’re engrossed in a two-dimensional world, but rather, there are cases where people become captivated as they search for a place for themselves in video games and anime because reality is too painful for them,” said Kondo, “I was one of those people. People who don’t understand the background probably think, ‘Games are disrupting their lives,’ but that’s not the case.”
Despite the fallout, Kondo said that he has also received a lot of support online from “couples who wanted to get married but were unable to do so.”
Despite being unable to communicate with his wife, Kondo now keeps a life-sized version of Miku in his home. He has also been invited to speak at universities and other events about the experience, and has returned to school to study more “about the boundaries between sexual and violent depictions involving manga and characters” as well as minority issues, human rights issues, and freedom of expression.