“So here we are.” The samurai was robed in black, his dark hair tumbling over one side of his face, partially concealing the eye patch. He looked around the small chapel. “I’ve never been to a wedding like this... I mean...” he clarifies awkwardly. “This is the first time I’ve been married.”
Well, frankly I had some questions too. We were standing in a white wood chapel with light pouring in through the stained glass window panes. Before us was the alter while behind us, tall white doors stood closed to whatever was outside. There was no one else around. Not even an officiating minister.
Clearly, we had eloped. Looking down at my ridiculously tight waistline, this didn’t seem to be a shotgun situation. Perhaps our families disapproved of my marriage to a warlord who had died in 1636. Alternatively, this entire wedding was as planned as my decision to roll into Akiharbara that morning.
“VR Wedding” is a short virtual reality experience at the Sega VR Area in Tokyo’s Akihabara. The game uses the Vive VR headset with two handheld controllers that let you open and close your hand. (Incidentally, this doesn’t let you drop your bouquet: like it or not, you’re getting married). The soundtrack is in Japanese but rather to my surprise, English subtitles were available. There’s no really “game” component to the entertainment; the most control you have is to answer a couple of your betrothed’s questions with suitably demure cuteness.
“Are you nervous?” the samurai inquired.
The options were “A little” and “No”. I moved my head so the central dot lay over the latter option. My new husband may have founded Sendai but I’d won 168 PokemonGO gym battles. Totally similar.
The game allows you to select one of three choices for your anime husband, all of which are characters in games by the Japanese developer, Voltage. Eligible batchelor #1 is Yamato Kougami, a high school physics teacher. Our second choice was Prince Henry Spencer, who allegedly has an IQ of 200. And the lucky single who recieved my 800 yen was Date Masamune, who was a genuine 16th century samurai before being reborn in pixelated form for the game “Tenkadoitsu Koi no Ran Love Ballad”.
In front of the game was a board describing the personalities of each of the prospective grooms. In all honesty, the options were not promising for matrimonial bliss. At least not if you were under the controversial notion that marriages should be carefully considered affairs involving an equal partnership.
Our physics teacher, Kougami, is apparently “always bossy” but “his love for his wife is more than others”. Personally, I feel that’s a rather low bar for marriage, but the profession was the true deal breaker: I didn’t pay hard cash for a VR experience that might plausibly happen.
Prince Henry “treats you like a pet” but will "show you his real self as you become more familiar to him". The prospect of being a caged hamster aside, this perhaps does account for the lack of guests at the wedding: I had clearly met my prospective groom in the chapel itself.
Finally, Masamune gives the first impression of being “quiet and unfriendly” but he “loves the one once he falls in love.” While a somewhat circular statement, I couldn’t avoid noticing the future tense. Normally, one would wish the love part to occur before the wedding, but given the choices this would have to do.
The samurai and I moved down the aisle. Even though I didn’t actually move my feet, the 3D environment sliding around me gave a strong feeling of motion. Apparently, we didn’t need no vicar: my husband was going to marry us himself. He made a vague declaration of love. I responded by promising to never leave him. It sounded a bit like a threat.
Rings were exchanged and my new husband completes the ceremony with “one final thing to do”, a necessary formality which apparently means a kiss. This future of this marriage does not get more promising. I wonder how many players pucker their lips at this point to the amusement of the attendants, at least one of whom was standing at the booth entrance, possibly for exactly this reason.
Then the scene goes dark and opens again on a sunset beach. My husband puts his arm around me and says many things that are possibly sweet but I forget to read as I’m examining the palm trees.
For a rather pricy extra 700 yen, you can receive a “marriage certificate” with a photograph where your head is photoshopped onto the picture of you and your new beau. I declined and I will not be justifying that.