The Times article [www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/magazine/26FOB-2DLove-t.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all] is about Japanese "2-D lovers," a subset of obsessive anime fandom who carry on what at least feels to them like real relationships with representations of anime characters, often, ickily, prepubescent girls. The article never says what, exactly, people like the profiled "Nisan" ("big brother") do with a stuffed pillowcase printed with the image of a 10-year-old in a bikini, besides carrying it around and ordering it a bowl of soup and calling it their girlfriend.
Japan is, of course, kind of a special case. According to the Times article, "more than a quarter of men and women between the ages of 30 and 34 are virgins; 50 percent of men and women in Japan do not have friends of the opposite sex." I'm hanging onto the hope that the fact that the same cannot be said of North Americans will provide us at least partial immunity to the spread of a similar craze here. But I think we can trust a certain subset of geek-hipsters to at least claim to have adopted it.
See Andrea's other column at carnalnation.com.