It’s not an entirely new tactic for Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to use anime imageryin their recruiting materials. Over the last few years the organization has used original anime-style mascots and special ita-helicopters to help drum up enthusiasm for enlisting.
The JSDF has even joined hands with established anime franchises for cross-promotional campaigns. From 2015 to 2016, the Ministry of Defense distributed posters featuring the cast of anime TV series "Gate."
"Gate" was a pretty appropriate choice. Despite its fantasy trappings, the series looks at political/military scenarios that could unfold if a gateway to another dimension (one filled with monsters and magic) were discovered on Japanese soil, and what the JSDF’s role would be in such a situation. The series of novels "Gate" is based on is also penned by a former JSDF member, Takumi Yanai.
For 2017, though, the ministry is teaming up with another franchise: "The Irregular at Magic High School." Series protagonist Tatsuya Shiba is seen striking a dramatic pose, flanked with text that reads “Protect the present. Protect the future. Self-Defense Forces now recruiting.”
But whereas "Gate" attempts to show the JSDF in its actual capacity and role (albeit applied to a fantastical environment), "The Irregular at Magic High School" has a much less grounded-in-reality setting. The story takes place following a third world war, from which a United States of North America, reborn Soviet Union, and East Asian Alliance emerge, with Japan maintaining a precarious independence thanks to the portion of its population that can wield powerful magic spells.
As the title implies, Takumi is a high school student at the story’s beginning, making him too young to enlist in the JSDF. He’s also established as having become a child soldier at the age of 13, and though that event is portrayed as something he did to protect his loved ones and homeland, it’s still a major violation of JSDF regulations, as well as internationally accepted standards of military conduct, for someone so young to be on the battlefield.
To top it off, Takumi is shown as emotionally distant and racks up a rather high body count, utilizing methods such as his innate ability to decompose matter. In light of all that, he really starts to feel like an odd decision for the JSDF’s literal poster boy.
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