Recently, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces have been using anime-style artwork, and in some cases preexisting anime characters, for their recruiting posters. In a way, it makes sense. Many of the most popular anime follow their main characters as they train themselves and/or utilize high-spec technology to protect the people and lands they love, which more-or-less aligns with the intended mission of the JSDF.
For example, in 2014 the JSDF recruiters in Ibaraki Prefecture debuted I☆P’s (pronounced “Ai Peace,” meaning “love and peace” in Japanese). The trio of cute anime-style girls consists of Hibari, Nobara, and Koume, who represent the air, maritime, and ground branches of the Self-Defense Forces.
▼ The characters’ names are also references to Ibaraki’s prefectural bird (hibari/lark), flower (bara/rose), and tree (ume/plum).
The I☆P’s girls have gotten annual art updates since their debut, but for 2019, the Ibaraki JSDF recruiters have decided to try a new tactic: handsome anime boys.
The three boys, who are currently unnamed, were drawn by illustrator Erikon, who also produced the 2018 I☆P’s poster. As with their female counterparts, each represents a different branch of the organization, with the fiery redhead symbolizing the Ground Self-Defense Forces, the stoic young man in white the Maritime SDF, and the flyboy with sky blue hair the Air SDF.
The JSDF Ibaraki Provincial Cooperation Office says it asked Erikon to design a trio with the aesthetics of popular shonen manga (boys’ comics) or mobile games, and indeed the characters look like they could change out of their JSDF uniforms and into sports ones and become the stars of a youth athletics anime, maybe as a volleyball or three-on-three basketball team.
Fans of I☆P’s don’t need to worry, though. While it’s not known whether or not the girls will be getting a new poster commissioned in 2019, the Ibaraki JSDF has said that they’re not retiring the female spokescharacters, and that they’ll be working alongside the boys from here on out.
Source: JSDF Ibaraki Provincial Cooperation Office via Hachima Kiko
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