Nijikon is the attraction for two-dimensional (2D) fictional characters. Fans identified as nijikon are attracted solely to fictional characters rather than real-life people. They prefer the qualities of fictional characters, whether it’s visual, physical, or emotional. Their desire for real humans has receded due to varying factors. A nijikon may have anxiety, a traumatic past or weak social skills. The 2D characters they love may be from manga, light novels, anime, movies or video games. Their fondness for fictional characters is related to 2D on paper or screen and anime figurines. Having a relationship with fictional characters is more convenient for fans like this, as they can have their ideal relationship according to their preferences. Fans who like Japanese 2D characters but dissociate themselves from nijikon are called Nijigen Otaku (Niji Ota).
EtymologyNijikon (二次コン) is an abbreviation of the longer wasei-eigo: nijigen konpurekkusu (二次元コンプレックス). It combines nijigen (二次元) or “two-dimensional,” and complex (コンプレックス) or “fixation towards certain subjects”.
A Brief HistoryFictiophilia is the attraction for fictional characters. The attraction ranges from endearment to sexual. It is also like attraction with real people minus the physical traits. Fictiophilia is also part of paraphilia or irregular sexual patterns. Some consider fictiophilia to be a disorder because attraction for the unreal is not natural for humans. There are many cases where fans “marry” their favorite characters through traditional ceremonies. Most of them happened in Asia. Young men reject the idea of marrying real women due to various factors. Social pressure, toxic office cultures, low-income jobs, higher expectations from women, and difficulty raising family cause men to retreat to fantasy relationships. In 2009, Sal 9000 married Anegasaki Nene from the game Love Plus. Unlike traditional marriage ceremonies, the wedding ceremony was akin to performance art. Fans sent live comments during the live streaming of the wedding. In 2010, Lee Jin-gyu married a dakimakura (抱き枕) or anime body pillow of Fate Testarossa from Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. According to his friends, Lee carried his dakimakura around in public places while treating it as an actual girlfriend. In 2018, Akihiko Kondo married Hatsune Miku in a traditional ceremony. His reason for marrying a virtual character was that he was having difficulties with real-life women. Only Miku was “by his side” at the lowest point of his life. His parents and relatives never attended his wedding. The hologram company Gatebox even sponsored the ceremony. He received both positive and negative messages online after the wedding. Despite getting married to Miku, Kondo has been attempting to practice socializing again.
Modern UsagePeople have different kinds of fetishes or paraphilias. It is unusual for ordinary people to be attracted to non-living objects. Some people from the West actually marry inanimate objects like towers or train stations. Nijikon is one of those cases. When viewed from another perspective, marrying 2D characters is similar to worshipping deities. Nijikon rejects human flesh and instead pursues fictional beings. In Japanese culture, there is a belief that inanimate objects have spirits. This reflects the Japanese practice of Shinto and Zen Buddhism. The two major religions in Japan have ingrained themselves into the consciousness of modern society. Marrying fictional characters at first glance looks harmless, but it also shows the underlying problems in Japanese society. Some Japanese men escape the troubles of establishing relationships, as today’s environment makes it difficult to have one. If this continues, the economy and birth rate may collapse even further. Addressing the problems of today’s men is the key to resolving their loss of interest in real-life relationships. References: complex, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/complex, Retrieved 15 March 2021 wakana, Nijikon (Complex 2 Dimension), Fanpop, https://www.fanpop.com/clubs/anime/articles/123063/title/nijikon-complex-2-dimension, Retrieved 15 March 2021. Unknown, Nijikon, Chinpudesu, http://chinpudesu-senpai.blogspot.com/2016/05/nijikon.html, 16 May 2016, Retrieved 15 March 2021.
- David MARX, Otaku and Zen Buddhism?, Néojaponisme, https://neojaponisme.com/2009/09/18/1685/, 18 September 2009, Retrieved 15 March 2021.