Even as the world of otaku becomes an increasingly co-ed one, many of Japan’s obsessive fans of anime, video games, and other forms of pop culture struggle in finding a romantic partner. That’s where Aeullura, a matchmaking company specializing in konkatsu (marriage-minded dating) events for otaku, comes in.
But conventional speed-dating can be intimidating for even ordinarily outgoing individuals, let alone otaku who might very well spend more of their free time watching fictional characters than interacting with other people. Add in the pressure of a ticking clock, and some might not feel confident in their ability to walk up to an attractive stranger, make a good impression, and then find out more about them.
That’s why Aeullura is flipping that sequence of events for its upcoming otaku matchmaking party by giving the speed daters access to a wealth of information about one another, and even letting them communicate online, before putting them all in the same room together.
The event is scheduled for next month, in time to help those looking for a date on Christmas Eve (considered the most romantic night of the year in Japan). Appropriately, it’s being called the Dempa Darake (“Heavy Digital”) Konkatsu Party.
Aeullura is recruiting 50 men and 50 women for the gathering. When registering, you’ll be asked to create a profile which will be visible by the other participants even before the party. Requested information includes your annual income, level of education/school graduated from, and occupation. The organizers would also like to know whether you smoke, drink, or have been married before. And perhaps most important of all in some participants’ minds, you’re asked to list the titles of the anime, video games, or other otaku-oriented works that you’re a fan of.
Prior to the event, participants are encouraged to sift through the profiles of other participants using their smartphone, and the system allows for searching by specified parameters. Should you find someone you like, you can send them a message saying that you’re interested in getting to know them better at the party.
▼ Concept photos of the party. We’re guessing the anime illustration with the earmuffs is a visualization of subsequent Christmas Eve date after hitting it off, and not an unspoken warning that the party space will not be heated.
Additionally, you can create and store a list of likely prospects for your personal use, making it easy to pull up their profile for a quick review of who’s who just before the start of the event. There’s also an online bulletin board set up for the party participants, so that they can become better acquainted before meeting face-to-face for the first time.
Aeullura points out that all this allows party participants to start laying the groundwork for a romantic connection before the big day. While some people might find such an extended campaign wearisome, many will no doubt appreciate the ability it gives them to take things a bit more slowly and let attraction bloom in a more natural manner, which is a definite positive.
It’s a little harder to see the benefit, though, in reminding participants that they can also use Aeullura’s online system to post reviews of people they’ve talked to during the event…while it’s still going on!
▼ The review screen
Granted, the system only allows you to rate your impression of your fellow singles as “very good,” “pretty good,” or “normal,” but diplomatic choice of vocabulary aside, those still break down as rating someone as a 1, 2, or 3. Unless you’ve got an incredibly thick skin, the prospect of being branded with the lowest possible ranking, which can then be viewed by the other 98 people you’re still at the party with, seems like it would cause plenty of stress, awkwardness, and discomfort.
▼ Come to think of it, the guy on the Dempa Darake Konkatsu Party website does look pretty tense.
Still, the rest of Aeullura’s unique ideas present some strong upsides. If you’re an otaku who’s looking for love, the Dempa Darake Konkatsu Party will be held in Tokyo’s Akihabara on November 21. Admission is 8,000 yen (US$67) for men, and a mere 2,000 yen for women. Reservations can be made through Aeullura’s website here.