A proper anime character huggy pillow seems to have become a critical component of the full fetish and fantasy regalia of a well-rounded otaku, but there are certain things you just can’t do with such a 2-D crush. Sure, anime girl pillows will let you squeeze them and passionately insert your sweet nothings into their non-existent eardrums, but no matter how fervently romantic you become, you can’t expect any sort of pillow talk from your pillow.
Unless, that is, you’re curled up beneath the sheets with the Ita-Supo, the first talking huggy pillow that responds to your touch with verbal responses, including angry outbursts if you get too grabby.
Developer Koichi Uchimura used to be a researcher at Kyushu Institute of Technology. While we’re not sure what precise field of academia he was involved with at the Fukuoka Prefecture university, his current mission in life is developing new technologies with which to “support people’s otaku life.”
No stranger to the allures of anime huggy pillows, or dakimakura, as they’re called in Japanese, Uchimura nonetheless was feeling unfulfilled. “When we’d sleep in the same bed, I’d start to think, ‘I wish she could talk,’ so I wanted to make that a reality.” The result was Rina Makuraba, whose family name is a pun on makura, the Japanese word for pillow.
The Ita-Supo isn’t as rudimentary as a button-activated speaker inside a pillowcase, though. As Uchimura explains in the product’s introductory video, “If you don’t rub her, she won’t make any sounds. You have to rub her.”
▼ The inventor is happy to demonstrate his technique.
You can probably already see where this is going: straight to the breasts, which in this instance are accompanied by Rina meowing like a pleased kitty cat…
…followed by an excursion in Crotchland, which elicits a breathy, “No, not there,” but capped with a telltale heart mark to show she’s being coquettishly consensual.
“For otaku, this is the dakimakura of their dreams,” asserts Uchimura. But while that claim might make you imagine that Rina will let you do whatever you want with her, that’s actually not how the system works.
As shown in the video, the sensor responds differently to different kinds of stroking. Mash your palm over Rina’s chest, and she’ll get upset, saying, “Hey, that hurts!” and “Hey, hands off!” Uchimura even alludes to a cumulative effect, where a continual lack of gentleness will put Rina in such a bad mood she’ll stop talking to you altogether.
On the other hand, a smoother, more measured groping will instead produce a string of increasingly positive reactions.
▼ “What’s gonna happen if I start to love you even more than I already do?”
Otaku who’re worried about a limited phrase set ruining the mood by making it feel like they’re making out with a 1994 Sega Genesis sports game announcer will be pleased to know that the Ita-Supo comes preloaded with over 500 speech patterns. Uchimura says that expansions are also planned, which can be downloaded to your smartphone, then transferred into the pillow.
Despite proudly referring to Rina as his wife in the video, Uchimura seems to have no qualms about sharing, or even selling, his anime spouse, and his campaign on Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake has already raised 302,000 yen (US $2,560) of the 500,000 yen it’s seeking. 20,000 yen will get you your very own touch-responsive dakimakura, featuring either Rina or alternate Ita-Supo stars Shion Kamitsuki and Shiho Natsuki.
▼ Shion and Shiho’s family names aren’t as pun-tastic as Rina’s, but they do both contain the kanji character for “moon,” keeping with the nocturnal image of pillows (and bedtop hanky-panky).
If you’re feeling like your bed is both too lonely and too quiet, you can throw some cash at Uchimura right here. Who knows, if the response is positive enough, maybe for his next project he’ll equip that giant six-meter (19.7-foot) anime dakimakura we saw last month with a megaphone.