ToraCon Offers Marriage Consulting for Anime Fans in Akihabara
posted on by Eric Stimson
For various, oft-debated reasons, young Japanese struggle to form romantic relationships or even successfully mingle with each other socially. For fans of subcultures like anime, manga and video games, finding a loving partner can be doubly difficult. That's why ToraCon, a marriage consulting office aimed at these fans, is opening this weekend, and in the most appropriate place — Akihabara, the nerve center of Japan's anime fandom.
ToraCon ("Tiger Marriage") is part of IBJ, or the Japan Marriage Counselors' Federation. This gives it access to a database of about 58,000 singles to match with other lonely hearts. Its staff can search the database and find great matches for its clients and arrange meetings. This is standard stuff for marriage consulting, but ToraCon goes further with an exam for its clients to gauge just how geeky they are and filter out posers. It will host singles' parties for anime fans. It will match singles by what hobbies they share. And its counselors are available to contact by phone or e-mail for advice; they'll even run date simulations to prepare nervous clients for the real thing.
Clients can choose from various plans. The 0-yen plan puts you on the party mailing list (though you have to pay to attend the parties) and allows other clients to contact you. The My Pace plan makes you eligible to use the system, receive counseling, and get matched with singles; it's 98,000 yen ($867) up front and 10,000 yen ($88) monthly. The Anime Fan Support plan includes face-to-face counseling and introductions to other singles for 150,000 yen ($1,327) up front and 15,000 yen ($133) monthly. The Full Support plan increases the number of matches, interviews, introductions, and applications and even waives the fee for three parties a year; it costs 230,000 yen ($2,034) up front and 15,000 yen monthly. If you end up getting married (and 90% of IBJ members do within three months), clients must pay an additional exit fee (100,000 to 200,000 yen/$884 to $1,769). ToraCon is available for everyone, as long as they're 20 years or older and can provide proof of being single. Men are expected to have a stable job.
"We're in an era where many kinds of lifestyle choices, ways of being, and values are accepted, and I was able to meet someone who understood my hobbies [Aria and Girls und Panzer]. There's no need to treat your hobbies and reasons for living as a minus!" - ToraCon adviser Shōjirō Nomura
The website Otaren once matched anime fans for lower fees. The website Otakuma, on the other hand, once matched anime fans with an interest in forming friendships with each other. We'll have to see whether ToraCon will have more longevity.