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On Love, Reality and Fiction

In an age where we are continually redefining our sexual identity, genders and relationships with one another an interesting notion for love of the fictional has arisen over the past decades. The flag bearers for this relationship have long since been the otaku fandom. A sub-culture which enables any particular individual to outwardly exclaim their affection for fictional characters has provided a space in which one can essentially ‘practice’ their love for what is considered fictional or ‘unreal’. While this notion may seem absurd to many, it has been prevalent enough to attract serious academic attention. And why would it not? The questions this issue engenders provide us with a significant opportunity to re-examine our relationship with media in the 21st century. Furthermore, the issue forces us to take a look at how we internalize fiction and the impact it has on the perception of our daily lives.

In order to enable a discussion on this issue, we need to rethink a number of ideas, including our relationships with both fiction and media. Firstly, what kind of impact does fiction have on our psyche and imagination? Can fiction colour our perceptions of reality? And if so, what are the implications for the idea of a division between what is real and fictive, if we all perceive the world through different perceptions, or in other words, our personal fictions? There are also the examples provided to us by the practice and belief in collective fictions (i.e. religions) which also provide important questions. What significance does it mean to act upon one’s personal fiction and practice it in the realm of reality? What if this practice is wide spread and collectively acted upon? Are fiction and reality not only existing within one realm, but also being accepted as such? Furthermore, what role does the media have to play in all of this, especially in regards to anime and manga? Both mediums have a long documented history of actively constructing characters in order in order to engender an emotional response from the viewer. The best example of this would be the moé phenomenon which has been prevalent in both mediums in the past decade. Can ‘real’ emotions which originate from a fictional space be considered any less valid? And if not, does this not confirm a possibility of affection for a characters within a fictional realm?

  • I appreciate that you decided to write your content summary like a research abstract. If I may though, and this is based on the advice I got from the administrators, I suggest you revise your second paragraph so it focuses on "what the article is about" versus "what the article is going to say." – ZeroReq011 7 years ago
  • Other than that advice and my complaint about the lack of Oxford comments, great article on otaku sexuality and the relationship between love, reality, and the fictional in general. – ZeroReq011 7 years ago
  • Very interesting insights, I haven't seen these sorts of topics engaged with in relation to anime and mange before! – IsabelleMilton 7 years ago
  • Although I can agree with the argument that these feelings of love are real, I can not give these types of relationships legitimacy. The reason for this has nothing to do with prejudice. All relationships are based on mutual consent. I cannot force someone to marry me. I could not declare us in a relationship without the others consent. Since a fictional character cannot grant this consent, I don't believe these relationships should be legitimately recognized. If these relationships were considered legitimate, then we would also have to agree that all relationships based on internal realities should be recognized publicly. What if I decided I was in love with an actor or a rockstar? In my mind, I played out a relationship and then decided we are married. But this person does actually exist in real life... soo? On the otherhand, if we are able to create computer programs that can interact with people whether visually or through robotic means, and the program is programmed to give consent to the relationship... then I think that's when you could reopen this discussion. – Tatijana 7 years ago

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