Hi SD,

I never heard this term before, but it describes people who are in love with/marry fictional characters. In real life.

I just read how this 38-year-old from Japan, Akihiko Kondo, married a fictional, computerized synth-pop singer, famous in anime and manga. She was even featured on a Lady Gaga tour at one point. I think their wedding was conducted through a hologram. According to the NY Post article, “family did not attend” the wedding.

My opinion on this is basically “live and let live.” If they’re not hurting anyone, it isn’t my business to judge. That said, it’s definitely out of the ordinary.

What’s the Straight Dope on this? Why does it seem to mostly happen in Japan? What’s so special about Japan? Are people who do this mostly a specific age or sex? Have there been studies on people’s long-term mental/emotional health who marry fictional characters? Have these stories been used to justify slippery slope arguments against other “taboo” marriages?

I am curious also about the human participants’ justification in choosing a fictional character for a partner. Are they that unable to interact with real people? Questions abound.



Hatsune Miku?

They actually grace this with a term? That troubles me because it suggests a certain legitimacy that is totally undeserved. What we have here is an emotionally troubled person who isn’t capable of handling a relationship with a live woman. He needs emotional help for his condition, not recognition of his condition as a sexual type.

I agree.

I saw a documentary once about people who fall in love with and “marry” inanimate objects, like bridges and amusement rides.

The falling in love part, while weird, doesn’t bother me. Live and let live. But the marrying? Who decides who gets to marry the bridge, or the fictional character? Can a fictional character marry two different people? And don’t even get me started on consent! Sure, you might love a bridge and want to marry it, but how do we know the bridge wants to marry you?

As usual, William Gibson forsaw this: this is precisely the plot of his 1996 novel Idoru. But he was using it to comment on the intersection of technology and culture, especially in regard to virtual reality.

I suppose this goes to my self esteem issues.

I have fallen in love with fictional characters, but they all turned down my propositions.

On the assumption that this will likely be moved out of FQ… a semi-factual (uncontroversial, I think) prediction is that as virtual reality improves, this will seem a lot less strange. It will become common to interact with other real humans in virtual reality, including highly realistic intimate encounters with sensory feedback. And since AIs will soon be hard to distinguish from real humans, a VR-mediated relationship with an AI will be similar to a (common) VR-mediated relationship with a human.

It’s been reported that more and more Japanese women are choosing to remain single, limiting options for males seeking partners.

Elsewhere, the drive for couples to have boy rather than girl children creates a gender gap unfavorable to amorous males.

“Fictosexuals”, arise! You have nothing to lose but your self-respect.

Jumbo is a 2020 French film about a woman who falls in love with a carnival ride. (I’d like to see the movie, but last I check it was largely unavailable.)

Object sexuality is the term used to describe it.

I’ll let Mr. Herman field that one:

Yes, apparently that’s a problem - especially in India and China.

India has banned ultrasound being used for sex determination. (In North America, there are apparently two types of people who use ultrasound for sex selection - recent immigrants and people looking for a complete set - “one of each”.)

I read about a problem in China where men are getting “mail-order” brides from Vietnam because of the disparity. The bride will show up and marry them for a hefty sum, then a few months later disappear - possibly back to Vietnam to rinse and repeat.

IMHO this problem will likely sort itself out over time. The problem in India, for example, is related to the need for the bride to provide a dowry. I’m assuming in a generation or so market forces will invert this issue.

= = = =

But back to the OP, I wonder if this is related to people who have problems having an adult relationship with other people - perhaps the same reason some people instead of children, have pets. (“fur babies”). A relationship where no adjustment or accommodation is necessary is much more fulfilling to some who are incapable of doing that.

Well, that just raises further questions! How did he know the fruit salad was female?

I mean, marrying a bridge is one thing, but gay marrying a bridge? How do you know if a bridge is gay?

Also something something, advice from a colossal pervert, Bishop of Bath and Wells, something.

So many things wrong with this, I’m not sure where to start. But here’s one: the inability to establish a romantic relationship is very different from not having children, which can be by legitimate choice or from unfortunate circumstances. Lots of people have pets that they treat like family after their children have grown and left. And so on.

There seem to be more men in Japan who haven’t learned to socialize with real women, but I’m not going to pretend I know why. I suspect that this:

is part of the same phenomenon, where more women are not interested in the “normal” roles for women and so choose to opt out of romantic relationships.

The extreme is the hikikomori.

In Japan, young asocial men withdraw from society and fixate on the inanimate and imaginary. In the US, young asocial men become incels with deeply embedded grudges and moronic conspiracy theories against what they believe they can’t have. I prefer the Japanese approach. At least hikikomori are not actively harmful.

Not wanting a romantic relationship isn’t a legitimate choice?

It is not limited to hikikomori. There are lots of otherwise (relatively) normal men who are out in the world, earning a living and so on, who still don’t know how to socialize with women nor how to get into a romantic relationship with them. These are the ones who are probably more cognate with US incels than hikikomori.

Yes, or course it is, and I did not mean to imply otherwise. Statistically, however, I think to actually make that choice freely is rarer than to make the choice not to have children, and especially compared to the number of men who want to have romantic relationships but aren’t able to do so.

Nip/Tuck covered this back in 2009. “And he really loves my decor…”

Who gives consent on behalf of the the fictional character or inanimate object- the creator, or the suitor’s imagination?

Do the creators and/or owners of this fictional character approve of this hijacking of their creation?

What, exactly, could they do if they did? Sounds like fanfic, taken to the extreme.