“Pure love is completely gone in the real world. As long as you train your imagination, a 2-D relationship is much more passionate than a 3-D one.”

With that said, I’m going to touch on a rather interesting subject that’s been creating a decent amount of attention: the phenomenon of anime body pillows. Also known as dakimakura, they are basically pillows with covers of anime characters. A overwhelming majority of these pillows have covers of cute anime girls. There have been instances of people even dating these pillows and treating them as if they were real girlfriends/boyfriends. From a Korean man who married his pillow girlfriend to a Japanese otaku who wants to die with his pillow girlfriend in his arms, you have to wonder if the concept of love is dying & whether we should treat those who love fictional objects a great deal of respect.

It has been argued that the idea of pure love is flawed. We got sex scandals, high divorce rates, and forced marriages happening all around us. Some otaku believe that the idea of romance is commercialized to the point that it’s mostly about “good looks and money”. That’s why they find comfort in 2-D pillows. Pillows aren’t judgmental and won’t yell back at you. So, how does an inanimate object directly influence one’s mind to be attracted to it?

A study conducted by Harvard University suggests that loneliness and a coping mechanism for unpredictability are the reasons for “object love”. The study indicates if an object is strongly related to a person’s beliefs and soul (i.e. anime girl -> otaku), the chances of that object being humanized by that person are very high. People lack any social connections with other live beings due to the idea that certain individuals might not resonate with what they believe in. This creates a feeling of loneliness since there’s no common ground to share. Regarding the “coping mechanism” reason, it’s basically saying that people tend to put names/characteristics on objects to exert some kind of control on their environment. You humanize something to make yourself feel better. A “body pillow” example would be if you saw a pillow of a female you like, you decide to name her “Tiffany” to develop a sense of comfort and dominance.

I think it’s fine for the 2-D lovers to do whatever they want for the most part. The only thing that concerns me is if they start to dehumanize real people because of their love for 2-D objects. If you grow too attached to objects, then you might start to become insensitive to real people and treat them as if they were objects. You can argue that 2-D lovers are functioning & not really hurting anyone. But, if something bad happens to their “lover” and it’s because of human parties, then all hell might break loose. You never know, we could see a story with a headline that goes, “MAN MASSACRES PUNKS FOR DESTROYING PILLOW GIRLFRIEND”.

It will be hard to change an otaku’s way of thinking, given certain circumstances. The only thing you can stress to them is to not let their interests completely interfere with reality. If they’re able to live in society peacefully & normally, just leave them alone. To cure any potential destructive behavior, a possible solution would be to have to highlight the positivity of specific human relationships in the 3-D world. One example would be to highlight a male 2-D lover who manages to have meaningful friendships with real non-judgmental girls and how they made him a better person, while still staying true to himself, as a result.

A funny story I should tell you is about the time I went to China last year. I was browsing some anime stores and I happen to see a Miku Hatsune (Vocaloid) body pillow. This saleslady started talking to me, saying “Hey, pretty boy. I know you will want it.” I told her, “It’s ok. I don’t want it.” I wondered if I really looked like a lonely otaku to her. What was she trying to infer? I do admit that I had an intent of wanting to buy something, but a body pillow? What do you guys think? I like to know your thoughts.

Overall, I think certain 2-D girls are hot, but my brain isn’t wired to treat them as human. Would you say that I’m lucky and fortunate to feel that way? I don’t know the answer, but I do believe that love comes in many shapes & forms. So, give 2-D lovers (& object lovers, in general) a break. It is unusual, but think of it this way: they’re living the way they want to live & happily, with no regrets.

I hope you like the first entry I wrote for Ani-Culture. Feel free to comment on what the future holds for body pillows.  I currently write a blog called “Manga Therapy”, which focuses on psychology and manga. This entry is also up on my blog as well. You can visit it at http://www.mangatherapy.com.

See you guys soon!

– Tony

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