Gender role confusion in Japan and what, exactly, is "otaku"?
Not to judge (or stereotype), but there is some strange love going down in the nation of Japan. Per a great piece in the New York Times magazine, some Japanese guys (and, like, one girl) have decided that love and sex and romance with real, live people is not worth the effort. I heard that (kidding).
Essentially, these young men (and, like, one woman) are an offshoot of the "otaku" subculture and really love cartoons (even if it's not cold). While "otaku" denotes a group of people who are obsessed with anime, comics and video game characters, the "moe" branch takes their love a little more seriously. Like humping inanimate objects seriously. Sure, who among us hasn't, at one time or another, gotten frisky with a pillow? But the "moe"-mosexuals take it a step farther.
They treat body pillows covered in character-based pillowcases like girlfriends (and, like, one boyfriend). They bring the cases (often covered with pubescent girls) to restaurants, on vacation and, sometimes, to work. The pillows are pretty solid companions: they're compliant, are not known to argue and generally don't judge. Judging from the NY Times article (and common sense), many of these dudes (and, like, one chick) stick with the stuffed dates out of a fear rejection and while many of them dig the idea of a flesh and blood partner, they'd prefer not to give up their Linus Van Pelt-ian security (which they think will be too weird for any real life ladies, and, like, one real life fellow).
It is not easy being a young person in the land of the rising sun. In addition to blurred lines of reality regarding fictional characters some young folks have taken themselves out of the game altogether. These recluses (called "Hikikomori") choose to keep themselves indoors and have virtually no contact with the outside world. Not an easy way to get a date. Justifiably concerned parents often go to the extreme of hiring someone to lure these youngsters out of their lairs (like the movie Failure To Launch!). Read: Lonely Japanese Turn To Dolls For Companionship, Intercourse
Per a well-known social commentator, many young Japanese men are totally lost in life and resort to becoming "herbivores" in the eyes of the samurai culture. Evidently, as Japan leaves it's chauvinistic (some may say misogynistic) ways, there is some confusion, crossed signals and Three's Company-esque misunderstandings regarding gender roles. Perhaps the shrinking and aging Japanese population can be attributed to this male alienation. Maybe all the flashing lights lower sperm counts. Read: Welcome to Japan’s 'Don't Divorce Me Club'
Not surprisingly, all of the footage for the show MXC was taken almost 20 years ago. Back when Japanese men were men, Japanese women were women and they idea of an inanimate (or robotic) girlfriend was just a gleam in some nerd's eye.