Akihiko Kondo first turned to Hatsune Miku for comfort in 2008 after experiencing bullying at his job. The character is based on a computer-synthesised pop singer who has toured with Lady Gaga and starred in video games, and together the pair began making songs together, with Kondo buying a stuffed doll of the character online.
It wasn't until 2017 that their relationship really blossomed, though, with the help of a machine called Gatebox which allowed users to interact with fictional characters represented by a small hologram.
The device cost $1,300, but Kondo decided to make the investment. After spending 10 years with Miku by his side, Kondo decided to pop the question, to which the hologram responded: "Please treat me well."
Unfortunately not many of Kondo's co-workers and family agreed to come to the wedding in 2018, but strangers and online friends brought the guest list up to 39.
The doting husband has gained thousands of followers on Instagram by sharing insights into his life with Miku, but things took an unexpected turn during the pandemic when Gatebox announced it was discontinuing its service for Miku.
Kondo was forced to say goodbye to the hologram version of Miku, and when he returned home from work that night her image had been replaced by the words 'network error'.
Though Miku can no longer respond to her husband, Kondo still finds love and solace in his wife through the assortment of Miku dolls he has now collated.
According to The New York Times, the 38-year-old acknowledged people think his relationship might be strange or harmful, and stressed that while he knows Miku isn't real, his feelings for her are.
"When we’re together, she makes me smile,” he commented. “In that sense, she’s real.”
Kondo considers himself to be part of a group of people who identify as 'fictosexuals' and wants to make clear to the world that people like him exist. In deciding to publicise his relationship with Miku, he was invited to join a symposium at Kyoto University to speak about his life with the fictional character.
Though the hologram version of his wife no longer exists, Kondo remains hopeful he and Miku will be reunited in some form in the future and plans to continue his dedication to his wife, remaining faithful to her for the rest of his life.