Stepford Wives 2020: The ‘Wife of the Future’ Designed for Japan’s Lonely Men


She’s always there, always listening, ready to cater to her husband’s every whim. Meet Azuma Hikari, Japan’s digital “wife of the future,” according to her inventor, Minori Takechi, who believes his AI construct can go some way toward solving Japan’s problem with loneliness.

 Hikari lives in a bubble—like, an actual bubble, or a little transparent cylinder at any rate—in a skimpy outfit, lending a sympathetic ear to her man’s troubles, responding to commands, and flirting (“bath time—do not peep!”). Age: 20. Height: 158 centimeters. Specialty: fried eggs. Dislike: insects. So, less like Siri, more like Offred.

Takechi set out to create a partner who “brings greater satisfaction than human interaction.” Best of all, Hikari is bashful, so her owner “doesn’t have to communicate with her all the time,” Takechi says with a shy grin, in the second video in our Love Disrupted series. He is selling his prototype for $2,700 and reports 300 pre-orders, mainly from men in their 20s and 30s.

Hikari is just one example of the multi-million-dollar virtual love industry that has sprung up in a country where over 70 percent of unmarried men between 18 and 34, and 60 percent of women, have no relationship with a member of the opposite sex (the one that appears to count in this industry). Elsewhere in the space, a VR game for women features a wealthy, contemptuous young man who looks like he made it to callbacks for American Psycho. He bought you at auction, if that’s what you’re into.

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