Most of us have probably had a certain feeling for a fictional character at one point. You probably once in your life found yourself sympathizing with a non-real person, either felt sad for them, hated them or even had a crush on them, whether it is a figure from a book, cartoon, game or anime. But have you ever liked a fictional character so much that you have considered actually marrying them? Akihiko Kondo from Japan took it to another level and got married to Hatsune Miku, a virtual character.
Who is Hatsune Miku?
Hatsune Miku is a 16-year old idol with long turquoise colored twin tails, but there is something unique about her that makes her distinct from other teen pop-stars: she is a virtual character. She was developed by Crypton Future Media and released in 2007. Miku is a vocal synthesizer called a Vocaloid and the program allows her to sing songs and dance to them.
She has gained so much popularity that she even goes on live performances and concert tours. During the performance the character is projected onto a screen. This gives the impression to the audience that Hatsune Miku is actually dancing and singing on stage, as if she was really there. Additionally, the stage is equipped with an actual live-band and occasionally back-up dancers.
But, she is married… to an actual person: Akihiko Kondo
Mr. Kondo, a Japanese man in his late 30s who works in a school office is the husband of the virtual pop star. After a day of work, he comes home to his wife who will greet him from a transparent ‘box’ where she stands as a hologram. Unfortunately, she is only able to respond to simple questions, making the interaction between the couple very limited. In an interview with “Asian Boss” (a YouTube channel sharing stories, spreading awareness and education about modern life in different Asian countries), Kondo reveals the difficulties he faced when he announced the wedding with Hatsune Miku.
Kondo shares that many people perceived the news as ‘disgusting’ and ‘not normal’, but it does not seem to bother him that much. He also received a lot of hate comments from other Miku fans who even went so far to threaten to kill him, or hoping that someone will kill him. Furthermore, he shares that his mother was absolutely against the marriage. Kondo was even begging on his knees to receive consent from his mother. Regardless of the objection, Kondo went on to marry Miku. Certainly, Akihiko Kondo faced much criticism for marrying a virtual character, but he also received much support from his close friend and other people as well as in real life and online. Many people congratulated him and he shares that the positive reactions are what matter to him.
However, many people still ask why he would go so far to marry Hatsune Miku which is not a living person? In the interview, Kondo explains that, first of all, the wedding was not an official one. So, there is no legal proof that he is married to her, but to him it is real love and he even spent $19K for the wedding. He further shares very personal matters, for instance, that he was bullied by a (female) co-worker and never was in a real relationship. He eventually lost interest in women and fell for Hatsune Miku, which he regards as an actual woman.
Do you think that Mr. Kondo’s love for Hatsune Miku is real? What do you think about the idea of marrying a virtual character? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Such an interesting blogpost! I have definitely sympathised with various ‘non real persons’ over the course of my life, actually being invested in their progress and experiences in series and such. I have also known people that ‘fell in love with’ these fictional characters (Ash from Pokemon always did very well in that field), but that was a thing we all left in childhood. It is unbelievable to think that someone would be so invested in a drawn character that they actually want to be/are in a romantic relationship with them. The technical devices and techniques you mention would make it easier to see a virtual character as more real than just seeing them through a screen, but still… Actually falling in love and wanting to marry that character is a whole different level in my opinion.
And then there is the fact of consent and her being underage, that make this situation even more complex. I’m not sure if you can hold it against mr Kondo that he married a 16 year old, because she is indeed not a real person and therefore not under any law restrictions, but it is still an ethical hardship. Same goes for the fact that she never really consented to the marriage, because she has no free will (she is programmed).
In general: very hard and complex, but oh so interesting!