Raising Heart Excelion, Drive Ignition!
There is an unfortunate amount of truth in the slogan "Anime: 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.◊
of Pimped-Out Car
(otaku-style). Compare Nose Art
, which involves similar (but much less geeky) paintjobs on planes and other vehicles.
- 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 champion in the GT300 class.
- Anime conventions such as Anime Expo in Los Angeles and Anime Central in Chicago have a small but dedicated group of attendees who show off their itashas at photoshoots.