True love can take many forms. In this case, it has taken the form of a Korean man falling in love with, and eventually marrying, a large pillow with a picture of an anime girl on it. What is happening to the sanctity of marriage?
Lee Jin-gyu fell for his ‘dakimakura’ – a kind of large, huggable pillow from Japan, often with a picture of a popular anime character printed on the side. The name means “hugging pillow”; they are similar in shape to body pillows in the Western world.
Some Dakimakura are imprinted with a picture, often a young woman in the anime style. Sometimes anime or bisho-jo game magazines give dakimakura covers away as promotional materials. Some of these printed dakimakura can be considered love pillows.
Dakimakura is designed to be extremely huggable. So addictive is the comfort provided that many older men and women still use them. There has also been a boom among otaku (a Japanese term that roughly translates to somewhere between ‘obsessive’ and ‘nerd’) buying slightly risque pillows. These body-size dakimakura are adorned with life-sized images of IDORU and sexy anime girls. They usually cost over $200, but they’re probably still cheaper than a girlfriend.
In Lee’s case, his beloved pillow has an image of Fate Testarossa, from the ‘magical girl’ anime series Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. For months, Lee has been taking the pillow out to eat, going to amusement parks and, you know, fluffing it.
The 28-year-old otaku married the pillow in a special ceremony in March this year, after fitting it out with a wedding dress for the service in front of a local priest. The nuptials were held in a special ceremony presided over by a bona fide priest. Presumably, the marriage was consummated afterward on a bed with some of the bride’s friends and family members looking on.
'He is completely obsessed with this pillow and takes it everywhere,' said one friend.
'They go out to the park or the funfair where it will go on all the rides with him. Then when he goes out to eat he takes it with him and it gets its own seat and its own meal,' they added.
The pillow marriage isn't the first time someone has married an anime-inspired object - it comes after a Japanese otaku married his virtual girlfriend Nene Anegasaki, a character who only exists in the Nintendo DS game Love Plus, in November 2009.
While the South Korean man's marriage to his anime pillow is cause for chuckles, I suppose there are worse things that could happen. We live in a society of high divorce rates, sex scandals, and marriages of expedience. It's so easy to become cynical about marriage when we see formerly upstanding figures like Tiger Woods fall from grace, celebrities marry in 24-hour Vegas weddings, and countless politicians such as Bill Clinton and Mark Sanford being caught with their Pants On The Ground. At least this man isn't hurting anyone by marrying his anime pillow.
In any case, hopefully this man has found marital bliss with his two-dimensional anime pillow.
Anime body pillows have become an underground trend, especially in Japan, where men and young boys form relationships with them.
An online petition, with over 500 signatures, calls on the Japanese government to officially recognize people's right to marry two-dimensional characters.