Is this truly “only in Japan” or does Western media love stories about “weird” Japanese men? Funny how these weird men are always cast as dysfunctional straights.
So here’s the latest story in the Wall Street Journal: a resort town suffering from the collapse of rural Japan and the terrible economy promotes itself as a destination for LovePlus+ dating gamers. This story produces the sensationalist title, “Only in Japan, Real Men Go to a Hotel with their Virtual Girlfriends,” the sad subtitle, “Dating Game Simulation a Last Resort for Holiday Town and Its Lonely Guests,” and the innuendo rich description of a town seeking to “attract single men– and their hand-held devices.”
The game is at once demanding of its users’ time, and also regressive. Men in their 20s and 30s enact a high school romance. The summer fun at the seaside resort ends in late August when the virtual girlfriends must go back to school.
I’ve reported other geek love stories, like the dakimakura or huggable pillow girlfriends. It seems foreigners enjoy hearing about how dysfunctional Japanese men can be. Perhaps I also get an added chuckle out of the spectacle of improbable hetero desire. But I also agree with the many critics of this news genre that this is hardly representative of Japanese masculinity.
Most people interested in Japan and otaku know Danny Choo, professional British geek blogger and friendly pervert. He has a bizarre photo spread on “dakimakura,” huggable body pillows. And shows there many uses as breakfast companion, driving companion, Wii competitor, and toilet seat warmer. Very strange and very NSFW!
“When I die, I want to be buried with her in my arms.” So says Nisan about his love Nemutan: a photo print of a X-rated video game character decorating a large pillow. They go on normal dates, including car-camping, karaoke, restaurant dinners, and photo booths.
It’s a little creepy that Nemutan is about 10 or 12, and that her otaku human lover is 37 and has adopted the name “nisan,” which Nemutan calls her older brother.
The New York Times Sunday Magazine author Lisa Katayama, blogger at Tokyo Mango, cites three potential explanations for this extreme moe behavior: the high number of Japanese virgins (25% of men and women between the ages of 30 and 34; a movement led by Honda Toru against “romantic capitalism” whereby love is seen to have been commercialized that looks and money have replaced pure feeling; and one Japanese behavioral economist who compares 2D love to “becoming a Buddha.”
The article fails to explore what ladies who have given up on 3D love are doing for their fantasy and fulfillment. Maybe they are busy reading Boys Love, and fantasizing about female-created man-on-man love. Ahhh, Japan. Ever so frustrated, imaginative and perverse 😉
One of the 1970s’ brightest lights is no longer with us. This image on a small throw pillow is one of the clearest memories I have of my adolescent bedroom. The husband had the same image on a poster on his wall in Tokyo. The globe was momentarily united by this one piece bathing suit, the amazing mane which still seems to inspire Japanese men’s hair, and that blinding smile. Her death is another reminder of the importance of the HPV vaccine.