This article originally appeared on VICE News.
A booming subculture of young Japanese men are obsessed with anime — to the point of craving actual intimacy. And now, Japanese company Vinclu has created a machine that can help bring their fantasies at least partway to life, in the form of a dedicated virtual companion.
The Gatebox is a voice-powered virtual assistant, similar to Amazon's Echo, but the machine has an added feature; anime character, Azuma Hikari, who is projected inside of a glass tube. Hikari hooks into your home network — she can wake you up, turn your lights on when you come home, and even send you text messages throughout the day.
The holographic female assistant is being marketed to single men living alone in Japan. The Gatebox was designed specifically for otaku, or socially insecure people with obsessive interests, usually in comic books or anime. VICE News' Dexter Thomas went to Tokyo to meet Japan's virtual wife.
This segment originally aired April 26, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.