Dispatches from the Geek Market
Getting in Bed With the Customer
So, to celebrate the Japanese release of Dead or Alive Online next month, Microsoft is rolling out a special edition Xbox set with an extra-special bonus -- a dakimakura, or "hugging pillow," that features a life-size, front-and-back print of teenage character Kasumi in a skimpy bikini.
These character-print dakimakura came into existence in the late '90s as a way for animé fans to get up close and personal with their cartoon sweethearts. "They were originally very popular among fans of doujinshi (manga fanzines)," said Kunio Muto, a technology reporter for the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, "but over the past couple of years they have secured a spot in the otaku (obsessed fan) market."
Hugging pillows are printed with life-size artwork of popular animé characters, and are basically life-size teddy bears for adult males, but otaku's relationships with their dakimakura can get a little more personal. "Searching Google Images with the term dakimakura is enough to understand the people who buy these items," said Muto.
"I guess they're supposed to be used ... as pillows to hug, of course ... and for other obscene purposes that I would rather not mention"