With artificial intelligence booming parallelly to the advancing technology, human beings have already accustomed themselves to the virtual world; completely disconnected from the reality of worldwide disturbances, pandemic, familial kinship, to one’s own intimate needs and relations.
Japan, home to sophistication and innovations, famously known for its anime and virtual reality games, has been facing a dreadful alarming decrease in the rate of marriages and new-births". Uncanny as it seems, the growing regard of two-dimensional anime girlfriends and VR games are to be blamed. Just like the fantastical love story between the human and godly world, is virtuality and reality going to be a part of modern love?
The otaku culture which was once indigenous to Japan has become a global phenomenon, gaining popularity every day. Otaku is a Japanese-derived word, referring to a person who indulges in a subculture strongly linked to anime, manga, and video games; possessing poor social skills, addicted to the world of virtuality. This word specifically has different connotations in various parts of the world. However, Japanese people see this word with a negative implication meaning a “creepy nerdy guy”; but there are plenty, outside Japan, who admits to being an otaku themselves, giving a cooler twist to this culture.
Shocking but palpably, this has taken a toll on the lifestyle of the Japanese population and their declining birth rates could be well linked to this factor. Many have lost interest in physical relationships involving sex.
“Some Japanese men choose to have digital girlfriends rather than real ones, thanks to the newest advance in technology, girlfriends in virtual reality have become a possibility”, states Anita Rani, a BBC journalist.
A popular Japanese Nintendo DS computer game called ‘Love Plus ’ allows otaku men to have two-dimensional teenage girlfriends; where the players could experience virtual dating, although without sex; with their girlfriend’s having real feelings for them. These men prefer their 2-D partners rather than a three-dimensional woman, with flesh and blood.
Just like men, female Japanese otaku does exist; they chuck sleep to play erogenous games with their virtual partners, insensible to their dwindling health. There are chances that the number of women might be larger than men – maybe the former is better at hiding it from the public. Otaku enthusiasts immersed themselves into their own fantasy worlds; hence forming opinions that virtual relationships are better than getting married.
In November 2018, Kondo Akihiko, a 35-year-old Japanese man hit the world headlines for marrying an AI–developed anime hologram, named Hatsune Miku. Although it was not legally recognized, he received a marriage certificate from its creators, Crypton Future Media based in Sapporo, Japan.
Just like Kondo, there are thousands of people across the globe who recognize themselves as contemporary ‘digisexuals‘ and they are dreaming of digital possibilities-albeit in a spiritual rather than sexual sense. It is certain that our future holds possibilities for 2-D brides and grooms.
Therefore, AI developers are jointly working to create a realistic ‘modern love’ experience. After all, love prevails.