SDF hopes to attract recruits with cutesy smartphone game


Japan's military has released a smartphone game featuring cutesy characters who dodge household objects, marking the latest effort to polish the force's image and lure new recruits.

The game, launched last week, calls on cartoonish figures in military uniforms to protect a home while the owners are away, including crawling on the floor and piloting a jet fighter to avoid flying objects including apples.

Called Jieitai Collection, the game can be played for free on iPhones and Android devices with new missions to be launched on the application every month until June.

Pacifist Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) launched four promotional videos for the game on YouTube with the tagline "Be an SDF official and protect your home!" "We want people in a wide age group to learn about what SDF officials do," a defense ministry spokesman said.

The game is part of efforts to soften the image of the 230,000-strong force, which saw the number of applicants for positions fall 10% in 2014 from a year earlier.

The new game has not been without social media critics, however, who have said it is too tough to play.

The cute and cuddly approach is in sharp contrast with a video game released by the Chinese military in 2013 which let players fight enemy forces in islands disputed with Japan - echoing a real diplomatic spat that has marred relations between the Asian powers.

In another image-bolstering effort, the SDF earlier this month put officers on the runway as models at Tokyo Boys Collection, a fashion event dedicated to supporting victims of Japan's earthquake-tsunami disaster in 2011.

In 2013, the maritime forces launched an online campaign inviting the public to vote for their favorite personnel via smartphones.

The military is also involved with a magazine that features female models posing in military uniforms.

© (c) 2015 AFP

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I often have to roll my eyes about the tendency in Japan to dumb 'complex' things down with juvenile manga characters and cutesy teenage girls doing duck lips, double-handed waves and elementary school girl voices. A brochure for an adult audience explaining taxes, opening bank accounts and life insurance isn't complete without one of these silly manga characters there to simplify explanations and soften the blow. Somehow, this doesn't come across as patronizing.

Now, the SDF has taken the Barney & Friends approach a step further and is even making the notion of national self defense and combat cute and juvenile. This doesn't say much for their target audience. (clickable link to the SDF promo

10 ( +14 / -4 )

And every man that enlists recieves a box of cookies and a boquette of flowers their first day at training.

What ever happened to being tough and in shape and dedicated to protecting one's country?

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Because forget any remnant of political knowledge or patriotism, of course!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

God help Japan if the only people signing up are doing so because they played that lame game and thought it'd be 'cool' or 'fun' to join up for real.

What a waste of money! Not only is it bad, it's worse than amateurish! The voice over is lacklustre, the graphic overlapping the game with reality is lame and game looks terrible too!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It's interesting to compare recruitment commercials from the world. US is the typical cool super-hero-Hollywood-special-effects. Scandinavians use dark, realistic, almost boring commercials. Japan as expected "cute", I bet if they could, they'd draw bullets and bombs with fiery angry eyes munching soldiers like pacman swallowing the ghosts.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The game is part of efforts to soften the image of the 230,000-strong force

Really? They want it even softer?!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Fits right in with last years AKB48 "cutie" Haruka Shimazaka's promo CM for the self defense force. The slogan was "You & Peace" I think.

War is so soft & cuddly.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Not going to happen. Here, men are busy becoming women and women are too busy shopping.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

In a way, this shows how even the littlest things that people do or don't do for their country eventually comes around. Case in point, the uproar that comes up from time to time about Japanese teachers not standing up, or requiring their students, for the playing of the National anthem. When these stories show up here on JT from time to time, we get the usual "Right winger" and "nationalist fanatics" who want to bring Japan back to the days of WW2.

But what it does is not instill a sense of pride in the nations youth, those who will have to be able to defend Japan from future agressors. If there is not a national movement to at least have pride in your nation, and not just for the team in whatever sport that is going against either Japan or China, then you will loose a sense of National pride that would make young men and women want to serve.

Not saying that they are going to become seasoned battle vets from conflicts around the globe, but if they don't see it as their obligation to want to at least serve their country, and to help preserve what is supposed the "Uniquely Japan" that we gaijin will never be able to have, then maybe it's time a few of them stepped up to the plate to make sure that if someone does decide to do harm to Japan, or some natural disaster comes up, that there are enough of them around to help preserve what is Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I looked at the spot, and though the concept was unique, it still comes off as a bit childish. But as others have said, one tends to see a lot of childlike cartoon figures in many things here in Japan that deal with adult subjects. I remember watching old cigarette commericals with Fred Flintsone and Barney selling cigarettes back in the day in the USA, but even though they were cartoon characters, they were acting in an adult manner.

I guess it would be too offensive to some to just leave the shots of the SDF in real life and speak to the duty of Japanese to protect their homeland, but I guess that will make too many people upset.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Like Prince Pickles and Parsley-chan? what kind of milksops are they likely to recruit using this tactic? JSDF etc not likely to be much use if China gets any more aggressive.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The game is part of efforts to soften the image of the 230,000-strong force, which saw the number of applicants for positions fall 10% in 2014 from a year earlier

Could this have anything to do with a certain prime minister who wants to redefine the function of the SDF? I don't think any type of cartoon is going to make people ignore that there is now the real possibility that actual fighting might become part of the job.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

US Army gains recruits through Call of Duty, Transformers, and the SDF uses... female models and smartphone games. Not sure if I should laugh or cry...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have seen that horror on YouTube. Not cool. Not cute. Not sure how it is to work.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This whole thing is so lame, and sad. I know my family members who have served or are serving my home country would be appalled if something like this was used in the USA.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

An evil Chinese plot to filter the SDF intake feed for selection of herbivores.

Phase II [year 8]: Invasion of Senkakus.

Searching "Jieitai Collection" on google images only confirms this suspicion.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is not likely to help recruitment. With Abe's administration rushing toward a more aggressive military, Taro-average knows that joining the SDF could likely mean real combat. It's no longer just a regular job. I'd argue that this kind of (sadly, typical in Japan) childish game is likely to be of interest to exactly the kind of people who won't be prepared to join if it means actual combat.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

SDF hopes to attract recruits with cutesy smartphone game

Cue giant face palm

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This promotion sounds a bit misleading.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just downloading this game to see what it's like. ^_^

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Had a little go and it's just a platform game... I don't see anything sinister about it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What happened to Japan?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Not going to happen. Here, men are busy becoming women and women are too busy shopping.

Fortunately, I would say. But they will be forced to change because of the US pivot to Asia.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Had a little go and it's just a platform game... I don't see anything sinister about it.

You don't have the urge to enlist after playing it? Hmmm...I wonder what impact it will have on the intended audience.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

After watching this game, I have come to realize the psychological effects it may have on someone. Dodging those foods is an adrenaline boost, and to think you can actually get into one of those things (plane) and do the same is an appealing challenge.

You don't have to be tough and brawny for that. Skills are essential too. I guess the game is appealing to the skills side of its target group.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here is a link to a promotional spot for the Jietai Collection smartphone apps (50"): <>

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sure, why not, I mean it's not like the SDF actually does any kind of combat or hasn't for the past 70 some years.

When I was an English teacher I worked near a SDF base and some students were members and they told me all the time how easy it is. One guy was a tank driver and the biggest thing he does is a SDF Show once a year and he fires practice rounds at a target. That was it. Another guy just did target practice with his rifle and rode around on one of those old charlie bikes delivering letters back and forth between his superiors.

What else can a SDF game show? Not them taking down International terrorists thats for sure.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

And if you pee in the toilet sitting down, you might even make it as an officer.

DON'T WALK, skip to your nearest recruitment office.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

How so? Please clarify?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Really? What a bunch of sissies. Like I've been saying all along. Boy Scouts. More reason the US Marines & their bases on Okinawa MUST stay!

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

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