NOTW classic (August 2009): Lonely Japanese men (and a few women) with rich imaginations have created a thriving subculture ("otaku") in which they have all-consuming relationships with figurines based on popular anime characters. "The less extreme," reported a New York Times writer in July, obsessively collect the dolls. The hardcore otaku "actually believes that a lumpy pillow with a drawing of a [teenage character] is his girlfriend," and takes her out in public on romantic dates. "She has really changed my life," said "Nisan," 37, referring to his gal, Nemutan. Otaku dolls are not to be confused with the life-size, anatomically correct dolls other lonely men use for sex. One forlorn "2-D" (so named for preferring relationships with two-dimensionals) said he'd like to marry a real, 3-D woman, but "How can someone who carries this [doll] around get married?"