FREDERICKSBURG, VA — Over the past few months, 29-year-old anime fan Sheldon Casey has been standing his ground. A self-described “super otaku”, his love for anime, manga, and all things Japanese culture is rivaled by few. The basement room of his parents’ house where he lives is stacked to the ceiling with anime merchandise: figures, books, and yes, dakimakura — the popular and sometimes controversial body pillows featuring anime characters.
One dakimakura, however, has elicited a response much more emphatic than the dismissive stares Casey usually receives: a dakimakura cover depicting Kokonoe Rin from Kodomo no Jikan. Casey states that his parents and friends have all urged him to throw the pillow away.
“It smells terrible; he just has it sitting there and it’s really lewd and makes me uncomfortable,” a friend who chose to remain anonymous tells Anime Maru. “You can see this stain on it… dude she’s 10 years old.”
Casey acknowledges the concerns of his friends and family, but responds that the contentious pillow holds sentimental value to him.
“In all honestly I don’t even like the show anymore. It was back in one of my phases,” Casey said. “But it’s the first body pillow ever I bought. It’s part of my otaku heritage.”
Casey states that his parents have threatened to kick him out of the basement if he does not dispose of the fetid pillow, but he believes he is being treated unfairly. Casey claims that he no longer uses the dakimakura and only displays it — and this display, however crass, is an exercise of his freedom of speech.
“Every time someone new comes into my room, I have to explain this thing to them. They typically don’t come back, but that’s a price I pay I guess,” Casey told Anime Maru. “But at the end of the day it’s my stuff and it reminds me of who I am.”
Before leaving, our correspondent asked if this pillow cover has alternate art on the other side.
“Oh trust me, you don’t want to see both sides of this dakimakura,” said Casey.