Crack Is Cheaper". Despite this, there are some otaku who end up with money left over after sinking everything they possibly can into their obsession. For a small and truly devoted subset of these, there is only one option left: The term itasha refers to any car which has been modified with vinyls, stickers, or other decorations relating to anime or games - most often featuring female characters and a heavily Moe aesthetic. Literally translated as "Painful car", this is a pun based on the fact that "ita" can also stand for "Italian", thus evoking an image of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. The pain in question is referring to either the car being a self-acknowledging eyesore, or the painful embarassment which the owner is expected to undergo when explaining to his (it's almost always "his") family and friends exactly what the hell he was thinking. There is an unknown number of these cars currently at large, mostly in Japan; probably the most famous is the Nanoha fan-car pictured above, nicknamed Opanchu-go. As per Sturgeon's Law, these run the gamut from beautiful works of art to incredibly tacky rustbuckets with anime stickers slapped on willy-nilly. Surprisingly, even expensive cars such as the Mercedes-Benz SLK have been known to receive the itasha treatment, although (this being Japan) Japanese sports cars like the Impreza or Skyline tend to be more popular. An itasha magazine, Itasha Graphics, began publication in May 2008, documenting itasha from all over Japan and providing coverage of itasha meets and interviews with owners. This is what happens when an itasha is entered into Japan's Super GT series.◊ And they're not◊ the only ones either.◊ A Sub-Trope of Pimped-Out Car (otaku-style). Compare Nose Art, which involves similar (but much less geeky) paintjobs on planes and other vehicles.
- The Transforming Mecha of the team in Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger, named Machine Itasshar, is an itasha car that transforms into a robot called Itasshar Robo.
- Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation takes this trope to extreme (and literal — they're on airplanes) heights with The iDOLM@STER-themed paintjobs. Of course, when you're flying a fighter jet that can blow anything else out of the sky, no one will question your manliness.
- The Forza Motorsport racing video game series (from the second game onwards) has won some popularity among itasha fans due to its robust car-painting system; it is quite possible that more Forza itasha exist than real-life itasha.
- The Playstation Vita release of Ridge Racer had palette swaps of the available cars based on the characters of The iDOLM@STER, just like Ace Combat 6.
- Unfortunately, they were only released in Japan.
- The WOTA from AKB0048 pilot mechs with 00-themed paintjobs.
- Carmageddon: TDR 2000 has The Mecha, a tuned up Ford Ka driven by an Animesque girl, a rather oddball in the series. Apart from the distinctive anime girl vinyl, its also decked with wheel blades and a pumping bumper blade designed to cut up pedestrians.
Real Life examples
- The vanning subculture provides plenty of examples of itasha. It also provides some of the most badass promotional/advertising graphics for bands and musicians, as the Hard Rock / Heavy Metal scene and Visual Kei have a fairly large representation among the people also drawn to vanning and its related mechanical work, owing to the presence of a lot of active or retired bosozoku and yankii. At pretty much any vanning meet, there will be at least one van that's either tricked out as a fan tribute, or that's used by a band itself.
- The Pikachu Volkswagen Beetle and Lugia Chrysler PT Cruiser promoting Pokémon Gold and Silver, circa 1999-2000.
- The Super GT cars mentioned above. Despite the looks, the main itasha car (GSR & Team Ukyo's Hatsune Miku-themed car) that raced in Super GT is actually a two-time and is the defending champion in the GT300 class.