So hey, anime is pretty damn popular.
Sarcasm aside, the medium has cemented itself firmly in popular culture throughout the years. Thanks to the talents of several animators and producers – and the beautiful smuggling job that was Toonami – we have a behemoth of an industry that ain’t dying anytime soon.
But, where there is popularity, there is a cringy misuse by outside forces. Much like the cornucopia of weird flash games where Elsa gets pregnant, there are plenty of anime oddities from a third party attempting to leech off that popularity. Whether it’s PSA’s or merchandising, anime has been mishandled in some truly wacky fashions. These are my top four favorites in no particular order because, quite frankly, these are too bizarre to be buried on the internet.
By the way, since I normally try to keep this as family-friendly as possible, small mature themes warning here.
Condoms (Sailor Moon)
Because really, when you wanna promote protection against sexually transmitted infections and diseases, what better mascot than the fourteen-year-old soldier of justice?
So, to be clear, warning to promote safe sex is never a bad thing. That was the idea behind this odd creation in the first place, according to an article from Japantimes.com. In order to raise awareness of STDs, Japan was going to distribute condoms, wrapped in heart-shaped plastic Sailor Moon plastered on the cover. The Japanese Health Ministry even planned to distribute leaflets and posters alongside these peppy rubbers that feature such slogans as “I will punish you if you don’t get tested!”
I cannot tell how they expected this to work. Their intentions were certainly not bad but their choice in mascot reeks of exploitation. Next time, it might behoove them to pick someone older and not associated with childhood innocence for their sexual education programs.
Selling Cars (Sailor Moon and Miku Hatsune)
They just can’t seem to leave my childhood alone, can they?
It’s no secret that popular cartoons are used to push products. Even the West isn’t innocent in using favorite cartoon characters to push adult products. The idea is to appeal to them when they’re older through nostalgia, I think. Or maybe Winston thought the parents would take a shine to their kids watching Fred and Barn use mom and dad’s smoke sticks, who knows?
“Hey kids, look, cool people smoking!”
But I’d have thought we were past that kind of scummy marketing – I was wrong. There’s been a recent campaign for the Ford Fusion that popped up around the time Viz was kind enough to rescue and resurrect the sailor-suited-soldier of justice. Now girls like me are expected to see our childhood hero dream of Ford Fusions because… reasons.
But oh, my fellow Otaku, don’t worry if Miss Tsukino was never your taste. Toyota has you covered with none other than Miku Hatsune, peddling product like a true American Celebrity.
There’s something really underhanded about using characters like these two for pushing expensive cars. It feels like the dealers are trying to tap a niche vein or reach the Otaku crowd. Either way, the cringe is real.
- Horrible Eva Merchandising
Speaking of cringe, you all remember Neon Genesis Evangelion, right? That mega-popular anime that spawned two movies that went from zero to crazy in a nanosecond? The show that slowly descended into madness and bad writing when the director had a breakdown midway through?
You know what it was missing? Brand deals.
“Suffering from emotional breakdowns and itchy red eyes? Try Asuka’s eyedrops!”
So, front and center, I was never a fan of Eva. But I don’t think a fan could forsee a show like this producing campy tie-in products on the side. After all, when you’re watching a man hallucinate about strangling the clone of his dead mother, or a giant head bleeding from the eyes, you’re not exactly inspired to buy.
But several brands jumped on the popularity of the Eva Train and never looked back. Schick made razors using Shinji’s insane jerkwad of a father; they have a giant blow-up doll of Rei you can climb up and slide down. Because what sounds more fun than scaling a giant clone of Shinji’s mother and then sliding down her leg?
And, my personal favorite, a body musk inspired off of Shinji himself. Because when I think mainly musks, I think of the shame, failure, and insanity Shinji Ikari.
“Ladies, please! No seriously, I’m just a kid! T_T”
TURN YOURSELF ANIME!
Our last entry is more of a group entry. If you ever browsed an app store on an iPad, Droid, or other such devices, likely you have been assaulted by free anime apps. These companies are looking for those clicks after all, and nothing is more profitable than animated women in skin-tight skirts and long hair.
And so they make cheap-to-produce apps that run ridiculously and bombard you with ads. But oh do they make some pretty enticing promises. They promise to turn you into an anime character, no drawing required, only for it to be a picture app that you put stickers on. Or, if they’re feeling especially frisky, they’ll promise a virtual waifu that you can love and cuddle, and it turns out to be a simple dress-up game for a Miku Hatsune clone.
Don’t get too excited; she just stares at you all day
This is some heavy swindling, especially when it asks you for a little money upfront. By presenting generic anime, these developers are hoping to trick anime newbies and those who are truly desperate. It really is a despicable misuse of anime as a whole, and something to keep in mind when browsing for your next time-waster.
Do you know any misuses of anime? Feel free to comment about it or anything else below! Feel free to like and follow for more content just like this.