Japans anime, manga, and videogame fanatics known as otaku are slowly making their way into mainstream society. Their enthusiasm for animated characters can now be seen on show cars known as Itasha throughout Japan. NTD Tokyo reporter Liliana Yap has more. The latest trend in otaku culture, or anime-fan culture, is decorating cars, motorcycles, and bicycles with paint, decals and even dolls related to Japanese animation.
Ita-G Festa is the first large scale itasha car gathering since the itasha boom a few years ago.
Itasha literally means painful cars in Japanese, referring to the pain felt when otaku leave the comfort of their fantasy world to join the rest of society in their sha or car. The name is also a pun for Italian cars.
Itasha owners simply enjoy creatively putting on decals of their favorite anime characters on their ride.
[Shunsuke MIA Sato, Lucky Star Itasha Club]: The character on my car is from anime, I just put the vinyl decal on. But the pink vinyl stripe, I designed it myself and created this form. It seems too ordinary if I only have a character decal, I wanted to make my own itasha, so I made it like this.
Itasha cars are regularly seen on the streets of Akihabara, the popular Tokyo district famous for anime and electronics.
[Tomohisa Shimizu, Ita-G Festival Organizer]: When I first saw itasha, I was so surprised. We decided to organize this event so more people could see the Itasha culture. The customization is whats most appealing. We hope more people become interested and try it.
Tomohisa says itasha culture is spreading to other Asian countries like Taiwan. When it becomes popular in the U.S. and Europe he hopes Japan will be known as the originator.