So, I don’t know if you are privy to the existence of these products, but there is a limited run of dakimakura, or body pillows, based on the amazing slice-of-life workplace comedy about making anime, Shirobako, being made. Four of the show’s excellent women characters (Aoi Miyamori, Ema Yasuhara, Erika Yano, and Rinko Ogasawara) are each being featured on their own dakimakura, with each character’s pillow having a production run of only 100 each, for a total of 400. That is all things told a small number being made. So what’s the big deal if there is so little of them being made in the first place? Because they look like this (and while looking at these following pictures, do remember that these are officially licensed products):
(Warning the following images are probably not safe for work)
Now before I can continue, let me just say that I am in no way, shape, or form a prude, nor do I hate titillating fanservice (I mean my most hyped show for the Summer season is going to have copious amounts of the stuff after all), however I do dislike it when characters are twisted into titillating fanservice outside of their series, more so when it is in official products.
What I mean is, let’s just use the currently airing series Food Wars! and Punchline as examples. Say they release official products of these two shows and they are heavily focused on fanservice. That I’m totally fine with, because well both series make it readily clear that titillation is part and parcel with them (I mean the main character in Punchline makes humanity extinct every time he gets a boner for crying out loud) and thus they are staying in spirit with the show and the characters. What I’m not fine with is when the same thing is done with a series that has almost no titillation in the series itself ultimately for no other reason than to use the time honored philosophy of “sex sells” to make money off of otaku (and in this case I mean the Japanese otaku, not the outside of Japan otaku, and there is a difference between the two, folks).
So going back to these Shirobako dakimakura, the main reason these products in particular are really chapping my ass right now is because all four of these women are phenomenal, well thought out characters, and on top of that are seriously hard working people who should be marketed and represented in a respectful way. But instead what we have here are some products that depict them in various states of undress (though Ema suffers from this the most) and most of them in a submissive manner (I mean seriously, what the hell is up with all of their facial expressions, and why is Rinko waving her ass in the air?). These pillows are utterly disrespectful towards these wonderful characters and completely undermine the work that was put into making them great characters when the merchandise throws all of that out the window to only focus on the fact that they just happen to be attractive young women that can be exploited just like every other attractive young woman in anime. And frankly there is more things wrong with that than I can ever hope to put into words.