These Expensive Headphones Come With Controversial Waifus

These Expensive Headphones Come With Controversial Waifus

In almost every niche online community, there are two types of people: those who like porn related to their obscure interests and those who don’t.

With headphone enthusiasts, especially those who appreciate high-performance Chinese-made or “chi-fi” in-ear monitors (IEMs), the war is less carnal, as the languid anime girls decorating the art of the box are presented more as muses than obvious sexual fodder. But, despite everything, it continues.

Although IEM girls are generally not explicit, they are sexualized, or at least romanticized, by the people who buy them. Headphone fans sometimes refer to these anime girls – which are, usually, original artwork made exclusively for a particular IEM, and not existing anime franchise characters modified for marketing – as “mascots”. But, more frequently, they speak of it in terms of “waifu,” the manga-devout shorthand for “attractive, vaguely Asian woman”.

What apparently makes the IEM girls “waifu” is the fact that they look like children. They’re often slender, with ethereal baby faces or actual puffy schoolgirl uniforms, as in the case of Moondrop’s $360. Blessing 2 Twilighta collaboration with a popular headphone reviewer Crinacle. Sometimes they only decorate the IEM box, like the snowy-haired girl watching from Tanchjim. $40 OLAand sometimes they seem meant to personify the soul of a product, like Moondrop’s infamous Instagram post of a girl with ripped stockings covered in…er, yogurt?

“Poured yogurt on the headphone,” says a translation of post now deletedimplying that the blushing girl is actually a Moondrop helmet, covered in yogurt.

Do they want people to fuck headphones? Fans I’ve spoken to don’t seem to think it’s that deep.

Don’t think too much about anime girls

” I did not know [anime girls on IEM box art] was a “trend” until I heard [the company] moon drop and how people in the West thought it was unusual,” headphone fan M tells me on the Reddit chat. “I live in Asia, so animated artwork isn’t really that rare or unusual. I think it gives products and brands a sense of personality.

Or, if that’s not a personality, then at least a bit of sweet, memorable sex appeal that you wouldn’t normally associate with tech, like the way a beer buzz helps get you excited to sit down. on your sofa and eating bugles.

“[IEM anime girls help] attract more consumers,” says Jeremiah, another helmet fan on Reddit. And “sometimes it makes the EMP more recognizable. For example, if you see a ponytailed girl with glasses, you instantly know it’s the Blessing 2 Dusk.

But even those who appreciate IEM girls have their limits. “As someone who loves watching anime, I appreciate the trend if the box art is tastefully done,” u/nopunterino tells me. “But sometimes I think manufacturers can go too far.”

“I could [not even be able to order an] IEM I’m interested in the fear that my roommate or parent will open my box and see a bunny girl in an inappropriate position,” Jeremiah says.

Both referenced SeeAudio’s collaboration with an audiophile reviewer Z ReviewsTHE $100– which has two girls wearing bunny ears on the box, their mouths hanging open as they smash remarkably spherical breasts together in a hug – as an example of a brand taking its anime girls “too far”.

“And we can never forget the Moondrop ‘yogurt’ incident,” says u/nopunterino.

Most people I spoke to were jaded about IEM Girls (and they are IEM Girls – in-ear headphones made in China are mass appeal itemsnot nerd bait like IEMs, and their design is extremely clinical). But it’s clear that some audiophiles have a bigger allegiance to them than they’d like to admit, and they’re especially willing to defend companies that go “overboard.”

I need to analyze anime girls

Going through the several passionate “why is this happening?” chatting on r/headset for a few minutes will lead you to proofs. Those who are confused by all the childish breasts and mouths seem afraid that their opinion will be unpopular before they even voice it, wondering as delicately as a deer dodges a hunter, “At the risk of being burned at the stake, what’s up with the ‘waifu’ girls on so many products?” Or, more recently and to the point, “What’s wrong with IEMs and anime girls?”

“Why? Where did this start?” u/brubby3179, who started this latest thread, begged users. “I’ve never seen this with ears.”

“I’m newer to the hi-fi headphone scene, so I only started noticing this in early 2021 when I started watching headphone reviews on YouTube,” u/brubby3179 tells me , about two weeks after his thread inspired nearly 200 contentious comments — so much contention, that r/headphones moderators locked the comments. “Some interesting comments in this thread, and even more interesting is how vehemently some of these guys are defending the waifus box.”

Aside from some vague theories about crossovers between headphone enthusiasts, anime fans, and tech workers with money to burn, no one could provide a concrete answer to “why” the girls of IEM anime were ubiquitous. Moondrop, the company most frequently cited as popularizing them, also did not respond in time for publication.

But, despite the vagueness of the “why”, the defenders are certain that they would like to keep the girls around.

“Seems harmless fun to me,” one user said. “It doesn’t make me want the product, but it’s not meant to interest me. It seems strange to ask about this. Hmm. IEM Tony Soprano doesn’t want people asking questions. Suspicious.

“Why the hate!!!!?? Leave me my waifu. I need the waifu yogurt! another user wrote repeatedly, getting more frantic each time. “I need the waifu moondrop yogurt? ‘please make me buy 10 pieces. Lol.”

Lol. Personally, I like some IEM girls, including Moondrop’s box art for the $20 Chu, a stoic figure with ashy bangs and crystal clear eyes. These less obscene designs resemble patron saints or zodiac signs for techies, offering an eerily mystical way to imagine your headphones. Personifying them gives them a heart, and I think it could encourage the preservation and care of things that are good for the environment, your wallet, and your satisfaction.

Even so, I wish that beautiful IEM art wasn’t limited to girls, or more ‘waifus’ to be literally objectified and discarded. Although many fans suggest that “Asian culture” makes their waifu different from local misogyny, IEM sex art is much like the racy memorabilia you find rusting at gas stations across the United States.

Like in the shape of a breast salt shakers or Florida keychains, many of which are documented by feminist artist Portia Munson in his silently overwhelming drawingsIEM girls encourage men to think of women as pocket ornaments, just something to keep around the house.

“These objects appear at first to be a humorous and mildly shocking anomaly, showing the commodification of women’s bodies into tchotchkes,” explains Munson’s website, “but, accumulated together, the sheer quantity evokes deeper issues surrounding vision. of society on women as accessories”.

I’d like to see IEM girls more clearly valued for who advocates say they are, their collection and artistry, being part of a more vibrant box art practice that expands to include men anime, or landscapes, or fantasy creatures, or literally anything else. I’m sick of feeling like women are used to sell tech, but they’re not welcome.


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