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 that are 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. (The otaku dolls are not to be confused with the life-size, anatomically-correct dolls that other lonely men use for sex.) One forlorn "2-D" (so named for preferring relationships with two-dimensionals) said he would like to marry a real, 3-D woman, "(b)ut look at me. How can someone who carries this (doll) around get married?"