Wedding ceremony of Akihiko Kondo and virtual character Hatsune Miku | REUTERS
With nearly 40 wedding guests looking on and filming the special moment, Akihiko Kondo lifted up the veil on his bride and kissed her. The only catch? Kondo’s bride is Hatsune Miku, a virtual reality star developed by a Japanese music technology firm.
Together, Kondo, 35, and Hatsune Miku, represented by a stuffed doll, declared they were ‘married’ in the $18,000 ceremony in Tokyo.
A week after the ‘marriage’, Kondo came home from work at a middle school in the suburbs and was greeted by the holographic projection of the love of his life who literally lights up and welcomes him home.
The hologram of Hatsune Miku recognizes Kondo’s face and voice with her embedded camera and microphone and can respond with simple phrases and songs.
The fact that she is not a physical person has not stopped Kondo from finding happiness in this arrangement.
“I believe the concept of happiness and love is different for each person. I believe there is something like a template for happiness — where a real man and woman gets married and have a child together, but I do not think such a template can be applied to everyone to make them happy,” Kondo, told Reuters as he fiddled with silver marriage rings worn by him and a stuffed doll of Hatsune Miku.
Hatsune Miku’s general appearance is that of a 16-year old anime pop star with two large pigtails in blue. She was designed as a computer-generated singing software, based on a voice-synthesizing program developed by Crypton Future Media.
From a young age, Kondo was convinced he would never marry and would stay single all his life. Ten years ago, he said an episode of workplace bullying by a female superior sealed his fate and convinced him to remain a singleton.
Since deciding Hatsune Miku was ‘the one’, he said he has remained faithful and devoted his life to the virtual pop star, who has thousands of fans domestically and internationally.
But his wedding ceremony on November 4 was not universally understood, he said.
His parents, who allowed him to go ahead with the ceremony, did not attend and although Kondo received encouragements and support from many friends and other fans of Hatsune Miku through Twitter, not everyone sent him congratulatory messages.
Kondo said some accused him of being a creepy ‘otaku’, which loosely refers to ‘geeks who live an anti-social life’. Others accused him of contributing to the decline in Japan’s population, while some even accused him of stealing their pop star.
But Kondo is not discouraged. He said his wedding ceremony will serve to encourage other people to have the courage to pursue their happiness even if only available in the virtual world.
“I think it was nice to have this wedding ceremony in terms of encouraging such people (who are pursuing diverse types of marriage),” Kondo said.
In 2017, Japanese tech developer Gatebox, which developed the holographic devices, began issuing ‘marriage registration forms’ for users of their favorite virtual characters. Gatebox said in a press release on their website that over 3,700 of these unofficial ‘marriage certificates’ had been issued.
Both Gatebox and Crypton Future Media declined to be interviewed by Reuters on the subject of Kondo’s wedding. — Reuters