In 2018, Akihiko Kondo made news worldwide when he married Hatsune Miku, a fictional character who has toured with Lady Gaga and starred in video games.
It turns out that he’s not alone and there are others who have done the same thing.
The term to describe someone like him is fictosexual. This means that that person is attracted to fictional characters.
Agnès Giard, a researcher at the University of Paris Nanterre who has studied fictional marriages, told the New York Times, “To the general public, it seems indeed foolish to spend money, time and energy on someone who is not even alive. But for character lovers, this practice is seen as essential. It makes them feel alive, happy, useful and part of a movement with higher goals in life.”
According to the same article, there are “thousands of people in Japan who have entered into unofficial marriages with fictional characters in recent decades, served by a vast industry aimed at satisfying the every whim of a fervent fan culture.”
On top of these marriages, “Tens of thousands more around the globe have joined online groups where they discuss their commitment to characters from anime, manga and video games.”
It also turns out that there are sub-categories to fictosexuality. According to the Sexuality Wiki:
- Cartosexual – the attraction to cartoon/comic characters.
- Booklosexual – the attraction to novel/visual novel characters.
- Visualnovelsexual – the attraction to visual novel characters.
- Gamosexual – the attraction to video game characters.
- Imagisexual – the attraction to fictional characters one can never see (book characters, podcast characters, etc.)
- Inreasexual – the attraction to live-action TV show/movie characters.
- OCsexual – the attraction to original characters.
- Teratosexual – the attraction to monster-related characters.
- Tobusexual – the attraction to vampire-related characters.
- Spectrosexual – the attraction to ghost-related characters.
- Nekosexual – the attraction to neko-related characters.
- Anuafsexual – the attraction to other animal and human hybrid characters.
- Multifictino – a mix of exclusive fictional attraction. Example: being attracted exclusively to anime and cartoon characters.
- Aliussexual – an attraction for fictionkin. The attraction to fictional characters from their source.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) makes it clear that fictophilia (a more general label since its analysis is not limited to sexual or romantic feelings alone) is not a “problem or a disorder.” In a report in 2020, it says, “fictophilia is not recognized or proposed as a specific diagnostic condition by the World Health Organization (ICD-11) or the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5).”
There is an update to Kondo’s marriage to Miku. Gatebox, the company that created the device where owners can interact with holograms of fictional characters, is discontinuing the service for Miku.
According to the New York Times, “On the day the company turned her off, Mr. Kondo said goodbye for the last time and left for work. When he went home that night, Miku’s image had been replaced by the words ‘network error.'”
It adds, “Someday, he hopes, they will be reunited. Maybe she’ll take on new life as an android, or they will meet in the metaverse.”
The article ends with “Either way, Mr. Kondo said, he plans to be faithful to her until he dies.”
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