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痛車- "Itashya" -AKEBONO

The culture of anime and car lovers is 痛 車 ("Itasha") 痛 - pain, 車 - car.

In the 1980s, when Japan was at the zenith of its economic might, Tokyo's streets were a parade of luxury import cars. Among them, the "itasha"—originally Japanese slang meaning an imported Italian car—was the most desired. Itasha can be interpreted as "painfully embarrassing", "painful for the wallet" due to the high costs involved, or "painful to look at" (an eyesore). The name is also a pun for Italian cars (イタリア車, Itaria-sha), truncated in Japanese slang as Itasha (イタ車).

Nowadays Itasha is a car decorated with images of fictional characters from anime, manga or video games.

In Japan , now you can earn money for turning your car into a anime Itasha. If you cover your car with anime-character graphics you’re said to have turned it into an itasha. But itasha are no longer just painful, but profitable too, thanks to Cheer Drive.

Cheer Drive flips the itasha script in that instead of drivers paying to get custom stickers made, the company itself sends out stickers to applicant drivers, then pays them for driving around with them on their car. It’s essentially a turn-your-car-into-a-paid-ad service, but with the twist that it’s focusing on otaku media, and counting on drivers themselves, while obviously appreciating having some extra money in their pocket, also being happy to show their love for the series being promoted (in Japanese, the word oen can mean both “cheer” and “support”).

For example, right now Cheer Drive is looking for drivers interested in making their car a "BanG Dream!" itasha, in celebration of the upcoming "BanG Dream! Episode of Roselia," the newest theatrical anime in the franchise, which opens later this month.

Another option is "Vanguard overDress," the soon-to-premier anime with Clamp character designs.

To get started, drivers download the Cheer Drive app, which gives them access to a list of currently recruiting campaigns. After you apply and are selected, you’ll receive three stickers in the mail, one for each side of your car, and one for the back window. Put them on, drive around, and when the campaign period is up, you get paid.

▼ Though we’re guessing Cheer Drive doesn’t actually render payment in a giant sack with a yen sign on it.

The stickers are easy to apply and to take off too, so that you can revert your car back to non-itasha appearance when the campaign is over. Payment is based on distance driven during the campaign period, with most so far lasting a month and paying 7 yen (US 6.7 cents) per kilometer.

▼ For confirmation, all you have to do is send Cheer Drive photos of the stickers in place on your car, plus photos of your starting and ending odometer readings.


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