When Getting Married Means Goodbye Fan Club and No More Sexy Pillows

For years, Japanese voice actress Rie Tanaka hasn't been afraid of fan service: she's cosplayed characters, she's released hug pillows, and she even had her own trading cards.

Those days, it seems, are long over. Rie Tanaka just got married.

Earlier this week, 33 year-old Tanaka revealed on her official blog that she tied the knot with 51 year-old voice actor Koichi Yamadera, who voiced Togusa in Ghost in the Shell, Vincent in Catherine, and Cheese in Anpanman. The once divorced Yamadera is one of Japan's most famous voice actors and impressionists. He's also the newly minted Mr. Rie Tanaka.

In Japan, when female celebrities get married, they tend to change their image. It can be subtle or radical. For example, if a woman built a career on being a bikini model, she might stop doing pin-up modeling entirely, and instead model in magazines aimed at married women. Once celebs have children, they often appear on TV either talking about raising their kids, making cute bento lunches, or promoting books that teach how to do either of those (raise kids or make cute lunches).

Some married female celebrities decide to leave the entertainment business entirely, choosing to raise kids, instead. Now no everyone follows these rules (Aya Sugimoto, for example, certainly does not), and these rules are slightly different for married celebs who are in their teens and early twenties.

This isn't necessarily forced (though, I guess you could argue that societal pressure are forced). And some people find more happiness raising a family or in marriage life than in the entertainment business. That's fine. There does, however, seem to be an expectation that wedded female celebrities at the very least "act married", whether that is toning down some of their sexy behavior, behaving more "adult", or simply appearing to throw themselves into married life.

Even if Tanaka and her husband aren't thinking about this (and, honestly, I doubt they are), the notion of "Yamato nadeshiko" (大和撫子) still lingers in the Japanese zeitgeist. This idealization of Japanese woman casts women as modest, graceful, and tidy. So dressing up as Morrigan, posing with machine guns, or sticking your face on a hug pillow—while interesting—don't exactly fit with the Yamato nadeshiko construct.

What's more, so much of geek culture in Japan is dominant by women who hide their own boyfriends or romantic lives in order to appeal to the male masses. This is why teenage idols (of both sexes, for that matter) don't flaunt their lovers. Their careers are built on fantasy.

That's why it wasn't exactly surprising that soon after Tanaka's marriage announcement, her fan club ran a notice, stating that it was closing down. While Rie Tanaka will continue to blog and most likely continue to do voice work for anime and video games, just don't hold your breath for that new hug pillow.


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(Top photo: アルファルファモザイク)