Over a four day period last fall, a Japanese tech firm used a free Senki Zessho Symphogear iOS app to poll male anime fans, asking them what kind of females they liked: 2D, 2.5D, or 3D.
2D ladies refers to drawn females, while 2.5D refers to 3D computer generated characters, figures, or even voice actresses, by default somewhat, as they bring the 2D into the 3D world. And 3D females refers to, as the results pointed out, "real women."
Out of the 500 male otaku who gave valid responses, 23 percent of those polled said they liked 2D women, while 9.6 percent said they like 2.5D females. Nearly 66 percent (65.8 percent, to be exact) said they liked 3D women. Yes, that means that over thirty percent (32.6 percent, to be exact) did not select "real women".
Yucasee Media reports that for those who like 2D women, there were answers like, "I've never dated a real woman", "No 3D woman will be my companion", "I don't like actual humans", and "Because they don't age and get old."
Replies for those who like 2.5D women included, "They exist at the intersection of reality and fantasy", "I really like the character's voice actress", and "3D is unnecessary".
And those who like real women stated things like, "There's a difference in the feeling when liking a female in an anime and a real woman", "Together, you can experience the same things at the same time in the real world", "I liked 2D and 2.5D women, but for a partner, I like 3D" and "2D and 2.5D are the ideal and thus appealing, but emotionally, it's better to have a close physical relationship."
There were also replies like, "I like them all", "I don't really make the distinction", and "I don't really have a preference".
Um... I kind of feel like, why is this even a question? Are we comparing actual people to characters? Really?
Online in Japan, people are, of course, making wry comments like, "Wow, sixty percent of otaku like real women?" and "hug pillows are the best!"
Five hundred replies is quite a look, and I don't remember ever reading such a large number of otaku being polled on this topic. Some of the replies could be humor (trolling?), so don't put too much stock in these numbers. However, I do think there is an element of people feeling rejected by real women and perhaps taking refuge in a safer fantasy world. Anime characters and virtual idols cannot turn you down. They cannot hurt your feelings. For a number of geeks, that security is attractive.