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New frontier in otaku tech smashes crowdfunding goal, set to ship soon.

It’s been about a year since Japanese technology developer Koichi Uchimura launched a crowdfunding project for his vision of the ultimate interior item for lonely otaku: an anime girl huggy pillow that murmurs and moans when you paw at it. Some no doubt hoped his pitch was an elaborate practical joke, while others waited expectantly for a possible end to their lonely, sleepless nights, and in the end it’s the second camp that’s getting its wish.

Uchimura was seeking 500,000 yen (US$4,460) to give the development of the Itaspo huggy pillow project a rolling start, and it looks like he vastly underestimated the demand for such a product. In the end, he amassed a war chest of over 3.7 million yen, and on April 1, the Itaspo is officially going on sale.

In case you missed the initial announcement, here’s a video demonstrating what users can expect from their soft, technologically enhanced bedmate.

▼ “Hey ❤ That tiiickles.”

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In contrast to ordinary huggy pillows, which in their silence appear to be in either a wordless cloud of anticipation or roofied-like comatose state, Itaspo offers vocal feedback triggered by the manner in which the sensor, placed inside the pillowcase, is touched.

▼ Original Itaspo girl Rina Makuraba (left) and her older sister Yuka (right)

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▼ And the sensor that brings them to aural life, which works in tandem with your Smartphone

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The Itaspo website touts that “Depending on how you stroke them, your relationship with them may improve.” That conditional “may” is no accident, either. While a soft touch will produce approving or playful comments, if you’re too rough or aggressive, the pillow will give you a less pleasant earful.

▼ “I like it when you pet me.”

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▼ “Geez, can’t you be any gentler!?”

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The effects are supposedly cumulative over time, so you could make the argument that in a way, the Itaspo is sort of a training tool that teaches unattached otaku that, once with a real girl, they should be aware of and considerate of her feelings and mood regarding physical contact. On the other end of the spectrum, users can go into full fantasizing mode should they get tired of the roughly 500 phrases pre-loaded into the sensor, or of the planned four official voice actresses for the project.

Users have the option of uploading audio clips of their choosing to their Itaspo, which provides an easy way for them to drop in the gasps and moans of their favorite voice actress or porn star without the manufacturer having to go to the trouble and expense of officially licensing them. This also means that it would be a simple task to give your Itaspo a male voice, if you happen to have a huggy pillow cover that features a hot guy instead of a cute girl.

▼ Or, if you have very peculiar fetishes, you could load it up with the cries of seagulls or the exhaust note of an F1 race car.

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Preorders have already started, and the Itaspo sensor can be purchased by itself here for 14,800 yen (US&130). It also comes bundled with a Rina or Yuka pillowcase (here and here) for 19,800 yen. You’ll also have to procure a pillow to put the case around, since none of the packages include one.

Oh, and while the idea of a robot pillow girlfriend seems like a prime example of something you’d find “only in Japan,” the fact that Itaspo has set up an English website for the product suggests that it wasn’t just Japanese otaku that contributed to the project, nor that Uchimura expects to be purchasing it.

Source: Itaspo official website via IT Media
Featured image: Itaspo Shop (1, 2) (edited by RocketNews24)
Top image: Itaspo official website
Insert images: YouTube/オーヴァードライヴ, Itaspo Shop (1, 2, 3)