Harajuku girls: the avatar app

Colour your Harajuku hair to match your sushi-flavoured apartment from your phone

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Lunchtime with a friend

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time in a Japanese avatar app called LINE Play. Like other second life games out there such as The Sims or Animal Crossing, you can create a character, customise it, and dress it in fantasy outfits. However, whereas in Second Life one is more likely to be an odd-looking creature at a rave, LINE Play avatars are cute, pint-sized humans and games animals with the Harajuku girl tendency to go shopping, freely borrow from other cultures and arrange all their pop-culture loot into a single-person apartment. The LINE Play overlords seem to have thought of every theme, accessory, furniture piece and foodstuff I’ve always wanted, that Barbie never had. From building Japanese hot springs in the backyard to matching my PLAY Day Bunny Mask with Dream Float Curl Two-Tone Hair, the sweet closet items and interior playground options never end. And like the Otaku fangirl that I have the tendency to be, the compulsion to keep perfecting my kawaii life on my smartphone leads to one objective: the acquisition of LINE Play’s game currency: GEMS. I will now walk you through some typical scenes, activities and outfit changes in the life of my avatar.

From my house, I can teleport from one stranger’s house to another in search of tasks that will earn me gems. When I get hungry (this is indicated by a thought bubble), I eat the delicious food that’s often sitting around in people’s houses.

Whenever I water a host’s thirsty plants and clean their grimy home appliances, I earn gems which can be saved up to buy new items later.

Sometimes after all my hard work, I’m required to get clean. So I take a bath at my host’s house. I get gems for that, too. (That’s BOM from 2NE1, by the way)

Or if I’m sleepy, I take a nap...

...and then watch my friend Michelle Ceja’s entire anime collection.

Some people decorate their houses conceptually, creating sushi restaurants...

...and some own convenience stores. (Here I am, in the ramen cup aisle at Lawson’s Station.)

Some people have costumes and furniture that match thematically and color-coordinate:

...and others have a wild mish-mash of toys and furniture that leave hardly any room for walking around.

Some of my friends are “officially” famous....

...some are weird old men...

..and one is my brother in real life.

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