Virtually Love: Japanese Man Marries State-of-the-Art Hologram
Will “cross-dimension” relationships become common in the future?
While there were 40-some guests at a recent Tokyo wedding ceremony, none of the groom's relatives were in attendance.
On the bride’s side, this was also true. But it wasn’t because her family didn’t approve of the marriage. Hatsune Miku is, in fact, software that manifests itself through a hologram.
A celebration of digital affection
The groom, Akihiko Kondo, went all out on the ceremony, spending close to $17,600 or 2 million yen.
According to Tech2, Kondo said of his bride:
I'm in love with the whole concept of Hatsune Miku but I got married to the Miku of my house.
What he means is that Hatsune Miku is a commercially available Vocaloid: a piece of software that can mimic a flesh-and-blood singer. Its mascot is an anime-styled young woman with striking aquamarine hair.
It’s the visual representation of this mascot that graces Kondo’s $2,800 hologram projector.
While Kondo considers this particular hologram to be the Miku he married, her digital presence extends throughout his residence. Using smart home technology, her programming allows her to wake Kondo in the morning and turn the lights on when he returns from his job as a school administrator.
For times when Kondo needs a more physical version of his bride, he uses a small plush doll as a surrogate. It’s this doll that he takes with him on excursions, and that also wears the gold wedding band he brought.
A new form of relationship
Kondo’s path to a virtual marriage began with started seeking an alternative to traditional relationships. Speaking further to Tech2, he explained he swore off ever tying the knot after suffering a mental breakdown caused by abusive female coworkers.
Shortly after, however, Kondo realized he could still marry the woman he’d been attracted to for more than ten years: the Hatsune Miku Vocaloid.
It would be far too easy, and totally unfair, to dismiss Kondo’s relationship as Otaku-obsessiveness and his marriage was a “strange story of the week” kind of thing.
But Kondo’s love life is not a rare case, especially in Japan where isolation and loneliness have become common for a great many people.
Last year, for instance, we reported on an event where male gamers lined up to marry one of three characters from the LovelyxCation dating sim.
Similarly, DS Dolls—the maker of highly advanced gynoids in China—has acknowledged that although many customers are only looking for physical release with one a synthetic woman, a significant number are motivated to buy one as a form of companionship.
As a DS Dolls representative said:
The reason for the popularity of sex dolls, in all the countries, is the same: To cure loneliness.
A growing movement?
Gatebox, the manufactures of the Hatsune Miku software, have not only acknowledged Kondo’s relationship but issued him a marriage certificate.
Saying that their love is “beyond dimensions” this certificate reflects much of Kondo’s own sentiment—as well as the other 3,700 similar certificates the company has also issued to those desiring to marry Hatsune Miku.
Kondo, again speaking to Tech 2, added that those trying to force him into a relationship with a human woman, such as his mother who refused to attend his marriage ceremony, insult his choice of sexuality.
Poignantly, he explained:
It's simply not right, it's as if you were trying to talk a gay man into dating a woman, or a lesbian into a relationship with a man.
The idea of a “cross-dimension” relationship is certainly intriguing. It thoughtfully expands on the idea of loving, and even marrying, an artificial creation and encompasses every manifestation of it: software to hologrammatic projections and even proxies like Kondo’s Hatsune Miku doll.
The same could also be said of those who love and care for characters in books and films. Their manifestations being not just on the page or on screens but also in physical representations that can be touched or held.
Similarly, many with biological lovers carry pictures of their partners on their phones or cuddle with pillows or even dolls that have a sentimental attachment.
As technology continues to develop, these kinds of relationships will no doubt continue and even expand—even perhaps becoming common.
Kondo’s marriage is a perfect reflection that relationships—no matter their form—are about finding and celebrating joy. And if that means creating a new structure then so be it.
As Kondo said:
It won't necessarily make you happy to be bound to the ‘template' of happiness in which a man and woman marry and bear children. Diversity in society has been long called for.
A call for diversity
Finally, this 35-year-old school administrator who has married a holographic representation of a piece of software said what needs to be said in any discussion of consensual affection.
I believe we must consider all kinds of love and all kinds of happiness.