2018, Sexuality  -   15 Comments
Ratings: 8.92/10 from 124 users.

There's a strange phenomenon afoot in Japan. Blanketed by loneliness and threatened by shifting gender roles, many men are forgoing traditional relationships in favor of silicone sex dolls. This may seem like a folly, but it's actually a cultural epidemic that could cost the country dearly. "Substitutes" outlines the consequences of this crisis through a series of intensely fascinating personality portraits.

The country's low birth rate reflects a lack of interest in human to human sexual contact. If this trend continues, it is estimated that the population in Japan could decrease by as much as 1/3 over the next three decades.

The film profiles several subjects who shed light on the psychological and societal motivations behind this curious lifestyle choice.

A sex doll vendor struggles to keep pace with increasing customer demand. Each doll is designed with as much realistic detail as possible, though the lifeless eyes and fixed features betray the appearance of a death mask. Regardless, his customers are confident that these creations can fill a void in their personal lives.

Another subject of the film - a 62-year old married man - carries on a relationship with his own inanimate doll, and speaks of the refreshing lack of complications such an arrangement entails. He sits beside her at a bar and orders her a drink, transports her by wheelchair to view a sunset over Mount Fuji, and carries on intimate conversations as though they are the only two people in the world.

Another retired man shows off the closet of dainty dresses he keeps for his trio of silicone companions. They provide him with a much needed reprieve from feelings of grief and isolation following the death of his wife.

These anecdotes aren't limited to the male population. The percentage of females who are interested in forming marriages and families is also dropping. Some own their own dolls and use them as a form of comfort therapy.

"Substitutes" does not impose its own moral judgement; it merely allows its subjects to speak for themselves. The viewer can determine whether this trend is a harmless band-aid on the agonies and emptiness of solitary life or a path to inevitable extinction.

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15 Comments / User Reviews

  1. greg

    older and fatter women already get instantly bitter/jealous/hate filled, if they see an older guy with younger thinner girl, women surely will try to pass laws to 'protect' these young looking thin robots from all the 'horrible' abusive men they can no longer date/marry , and just think of all the money and drama and divorce settlements the women will miss out on...
    on the bright side kids wont be held hostage by women and used as tools to torture and threaten ex husbands as much. that may put a lot of court employees and shrinks out of work, stealing kids from fathers thru restraining orders and such has become big business...forced anger management classes may disappear putting them out of business too.
    eventually maybe women will grow less manipulative,greedy and evil in order to get a good man to trust them in a marriage again. that may lead to a decline in divorce and more happy stable homes. who knows maybe karens will become extinct!

    1. John

      Damn, Dude. get a grip on your insecurities.

    2. Amanda

      Just say you’re an incel and get it over with

  2. John Rapp

    It is very telling that most of these dolls look like 12 year olds.

  3. Anand

    Just madness, It is not a Japs way!!!1

  4. olarilolé

    why do the dolls look like children? or is it me?

  5. Gary Steven Bate

    Japan has some serious society issues. This is just one aspect. What is socially acceptable in Japan is not anywhere else, it breeds segregation loneliness and it's really a sort of mass mental illness. The population rate is declining, that's how Darwinism works.

  6. Just joshing

    I need one. At least it won't tell me it got a head ache.

  7. Michele

    It's not my cup of tea, but it's probably harmless

  8. Sachin

    What's wrong with this people..
    Nonsense fellows...

  9. Mondo

    Of course most everyone thinks it's about sex only. Think about it: How much of what we have is virtual? People are substituting the real thing with the fake left and right, be it food, sex, or anything else. Prostitution is replaced by substitution, people selling out is replaced by selling out our personhood.

  10. Yo

    But if this doll could walk, talk, and think like a real person and was basically an android than would it be so crazy? In 40 years many androids will be walking around to where you cant tell if its real or not.

  11. scubahalo

    We should have dropped a lot more nukes.

  12. FAHA

    Another symptom of a sick world !

  13. Ajay

    Just watched Substitutes... I feel that it is much more than a need for companionship... but a passive aggressive sickness. Most of these middle aged men had dolls that were little girls. I could have done with a psychiatrist view of this phenomenon.