What is Itasha?
Cars adorned with anime related characters are a common sight in Japan, especially on weekends in Akihabara, Tokyo. These vehicles are known as Itasha cars.
Itasha literally translated to ”painful car”. It is a Japanese word to describe cars that have had anime related decals put on them.
The word emerged from a self-deprecatory joke for the owners because it’s painful to look at and no doubt to their wallet as well.
On April 28-29th, “Niconico Chokaigi 2018” which is an annual convention was held by Niconico; Japan’s largest social video website. Its concept is to recreate the Japanese Internet culture in real life. This event offers a wide variety of contents, such as Game, Anime, Vocaloid, Dance, Cosplay and so on. Itasha is one of the popular contents of Chokaigi.
“Itasha Tengoku” was the part of the venue where the Itasha cars gathered from all around the country and displayed at the same time. Visitors can see the unique cars freely, taking photos and enjoy communication with the owners. Itasha Tengoku which is translated as Itasha Heaven is a group of Itasha enthusiasts in Japan. They are constantly giving information about Itasha in their magazine and on their social media. Also, they are offering some Itahsha related events in various places.
Chokaigi is the place where people have same interests get together in real life and enjoy face-to-face communication. So if you have a vehicle you would like to show off, why don’t you come and register to showcase your car at next year’s Chokaigi!
Cosplayers Collaborate to Showcase Itasha
Some of the Itasha cars were even accompanied with their own cosplayers to highlight the atmosphere.
Here’s a Snow Miku Itasha with a Snow Miku cosplayer.
Here’s a Little Busters! Itasha with a Kudryavka Noumi cosplayer.
Art beyond the hobby; Hatsune Miku 3D Itasha
At the beginning of Itasha culture, it was just decorating cars with character plushies and stickers. As the fad has exploded in the last few years, keen enthusiasts have started to fork out a pile to decorate their entire cars with 2D character decals.
Interview with the 3D Itasha producer; Kokonotsu
Although cars entirely wrapped with 2D anime characters have quite a lot of impact, Kokonotsu; one of the Itasha owners that I met at Chokaigi, he has created something beyond our imagination.
– I’ve seen your 3D Itasah car before on the Internet, which looks like
Madoka Kaname from the popular anime series “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, bursting out from the back of the car. It was a hot topic on the Internet for a while.
That was really amazing but this time, you made another 3D Itasha with Hatsune Miku. Is there anything that you are particular about or anything you have changed from the last time?
They may look similar 3D Itasha but they are totally different from each other.
Madoka is fixed outside of the car but Miku is fixed inside the car, encompassed by glasses.
I like to travel, so I always take into account things that are important when I travel across Japan. Unlike figures that you display inside of the house, my 3D Itasha has to withstand a lot of things such as, vibration during running, carwash, driving under the intensive hot weather and what not. So it is not just an ornament. I think it is more practical than you imagine.
– How long does it take to finish making one 3D Itasah from scratch?
Madoka takes about 9 months, Miku takes about 1 year and a half.
– Are you taking any requests for 3D Itasah production?
Well, it takes a lot of time and energy and of course, it’s really expensive.
So I’m not taking any requests so far. I’m just doing it for myself.
– Lastly, do you have any message for overseas Itasha fans!
Sometimes I see Itasha cars overseas on twitter. It makes me happy to see them. Not only their cars but also the owners are likely to be interesting people, so I want to make friends with them!
Akari Kudou; she is an artist wearing Hatsune Miku costume, was painting beside the car.
It was an amazing collaboration with both Itasha and cosplay!
I’ve visited some Itasha related events several times but it was my first time to see a 3D Itasha in real life. It was definitely beyond my imagination. An amazing piece of art that worth seeing and taking photos.
Thousands of anime fans around the world want to decorate their cars with images of their favorite anime characters, but it is not as common as it is in Japan.
I hope Itasha culture will be more acknowledged by people around the world in the future.
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