I have had the occasional face-to-face comment, away from the computers, suggesting that I think of anime and Vocaloid characters as real people, by the manner in which I refer to them. It is an interesting line of thought, this apparent anthropomorphism of these unreal people.
In fact, if you read what I write carefully, you'll realise that I never go that far, and it is the reader's imagination that I do. I refer to characteristics, and not to someone real, for one thing.
Of course, if we all (or most anyway, I strongly suspect) look at our own lives, we find that there is a huge amount of relating to characters, whether human television parts such as those in the soaps such as EastEnders, Hollyoaks or Coronation Street, or invisible ones such as in The Archers on the radio.
That's the first stage. Beyond those come cartoon characters such as Homer Simpson, Cartman or Brian the Dog. There are also puppet characters (mostly for children) such as Basil Brush – but don't forget Topo Gigio or other forms of animation such as Rastamouse.
We can easily relate to these characters, and indeed they are written for and produced in such a way that we will. The same applies to many (perhaps most) anime characters, even here in the west, and to the Vocaloid and similar performing characters (e.g. UTAU) – and there is nothing wrong with that.
Indeed, the pure love shown for the likes of Yuki Nagato and Miku Hatsune is remarkable: it could have turned out to be a cultish minority expressing somewhat offbeat feelings – perhaps even unhealthy and unnatural obsessions – and yet if one were to go through the contributions to Facebook, YouTube and similar on-line resources one would find an almost certainly surprisingly large number of genuine, heartfelt feelings for these two and others too.
In both genres, wonderful very human feelings are growing and, one could say, multiplying all the time, showing just how much the world in general has needed these kinds of characters to admire, relate to, identify with and even to love. The likes of Facebook and YouTube can show barely the tip of what seems to have grown into a huge iceberg, and much of the world is, I feel confident, becoming a broadly better place as a result.
That's a good thing, so let's just accept it and perhaps even join in ourselves!