Lost in communication: The relationship between hikikomori and virtual reality in Japanese anime
- Virtual reality,
- Mamoru Hosoda
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Copyright (c) 2023 Mariapaola Della Chiara
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Nowadays virtual reality has gained extreme popularity among adolescents around the world, thanks to the possibility they offer to create a new life for their users. Especially for teenagers affected by the hikikomori syndrome, who experience struggles in establishing communication with others, virtual reality has become a tool to forsake their “adverse” reality, shaping fictitious safe environments and creating relationships with similar-minded users. This issue of virtual reality has been depicted in recent Japanese animation, whose country is mostly affected by this issue. I will show mainly two approaches to the phenomenon: the one given in the anime series Sword Art Online (2012), in which virtual reality is perceived as the only place where true communication can happen; the second is the interpretation given by director Hosoda Mamoru in his animated features Summer Wars (2009) and Belle (2021), where virtual reality is a tool to support real life’s difficulties.