Controversy on Pretty All Friends official “big cushion covers”, “Taisho Roman style” outfits

On August 3rd 2018, the official Prichan twitter RTed how there’s swimsuit dakimakura among the Pretty All Friends(PAF) official goods to be sold by Icrea at C94 (August 10-12 2018). It created a controversy among the Pretty Series fans. This is natural as the fan community is pretty massive now after PriPara and Kinpri’s successes, and includes people from different countries (mostly Japan and South Korea) so obviously everyone has different opinions and sensibilities. There’s people saying the dakimakuras are bad because they’re sexualizing underage characters from children oriented anime, and making hashtags protesting about it.

On August 3-4, the Japanese tags for PriPara and Pretty Series were trending.  The Korean tags for “dakimakura” , “children anime” and “pripara” were trending too. There’s also a currently trending tag with thousands of tweets used by people to protest against the goods: #プリティーシリーズ_女の子キャラクター_性商品化_もいい加減にしろ, meaning “Stop making official goods sexualizing the Pretty Series girls characters”
And a korean equivalent: #프리티_시리즈_여아캐릭터_성상품화_작작해라

I’m not making this post to repost some of the tweets in those tags, and write/translate things like
“look how low the Pretty Series franchise has fallen”
“wow Japan is so cool and redpilled, they NEVER PUT POLITICS IN ANIME, those Koreans complaining about the swimsuit dakis are just dumb SJW!!”
and get views like the crap Yaraon already did. (I’ll explain later why I mention Korea. Not linking the yaraon post on purpose to not give them views. And I hope ANN won’t write a post on this issue with yaraon as only source, because unlike what they said it’s not only Korean fans that are displeased about it)
I’m not interested either in trying to figure out if there’s a consensus, or counting the heads on each multiple sides of the argument. Rather, I wanna try to talk about the incident as a whole and explain what led to this. And in case it a becomes an even bigger controversy, it would be good to have a post for future reference to know what happened.

Also, I’m not going to voice my own opinion much. Which is that basically I don’t think the dakis are a good thing, but I don’t agree with 100% the arguments against it I’ve seen. Explaining my opinion would require me to write about things personal and I don’t feel like it nowadays. Usually, I always voice my opinion because I don’t believe 100% objectivity is a good thing. (Like how most people saying they’re apolitical or don’t care about politics and don’t want to see politics in cultural works pretty much means they voluntarily support the wrong politics by not caring, and has never been forced to care because they’re rich or white or never experienced stuff like racism)

First of all, while Pretty Rhythm, PriPara and now Prichan has only very few instances of sexual fanservice in their anime series, there’s always been official goods that can be seen as sexualizing the characters:

  • There was a poster of Mion Aira and Rizumu in swimsuits in Animedia August 2011.

  • There’s the Aira swimsuit illustration by Watanabe Akio in the Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream Official Calendar, which was also used as a poster in Megami September 2011.
  • The Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection guidebook which released in 2014 has another Watanabae Akio swimsuit poster with MARs and Kaname.

  • The cover of the Pretty Rhythm Visual Book has Aira, Mia and Naru in swimsuits too.(I still haven’t translated anything from this, so much stuff to do, time goes too fast…)

  • You also have the transparent plastic printed coord cards, with the characters in underwear. That way you can check how the coord looks on the character before using it in the game.  There was also the “Prism Coord Seal Gum” which is basically the same thing, to play dress up, which had all the DMF Prizmmy girls in underwear. (If you remember, the arcade plastic coords cards are part of why some people managed to guess Leona was a boy before it was revealed in the PriPara anime. He’s the only one with an absolutely flat chest. Thanks Maidforge for the picture.)

All of the above is pretty tame, and doesn’t have the sexual connotation of dakis either, but what I mean to say is it’s not the first time it’s happening. The illustrations on the PAF daki themselves are pretty tame too compared to the usual on dakimakuras. There’s no dubious white fluids, they’re not straight up spreading their legs, etc. The girls’ swimsuits and poses are pretty tame too. By today’s western standards anyway.

It’s also worth nothing they already did official dakimakuras of the girls, using previously published “normal” key visuals, not swimsuits or more raunchier things. There was one with Bell and Naru with their 7th coords. Can’t find the pics sadly.

Anyway, all of this brings us to the first point I wanna make. Whether one thinks it’s a bad thing or not, objectifying and/or sexualizing characters regardless of their age or gender has always been a big part of the anime industry. So it’s not gonna stop anytime soon. Hence why magazines like Megami exist, and why it also includes raunchy posters of characters from series who don’t have sexual fanservice in the first place.
(One could argue the objectification greatly increased starting early 2000. It’s kinda like the idol boom, which is also linked to the increase. What I call the idol boom: idols have always been big in Japan but since 98 with Morning Musume and then mid-2000 with AKB48 the quantity of idol-related media has greatly increased, including the birth of tons of idol themed franchises, including children aiming ones like Pretty Series and Aikatsu)

There’s also many Kinpri goods which sexualize the characters. And of course the movie preorder tickets with the boys naked. Though this is actually a special case, as they purposely did that to shock people and create controversy, and try and remove Kinpri’s pre-release handicap, which was that not many people and anime fans knew about Pretty Rhythm in the first place. I explain that in the Pretty Rhythm history thing, which should come soon.( I’ve been saying it’s coming for so long, if not for the French version I already released, it would seem like I’m advertising a scam)
And again, Kinpri itself is a special example because right from the start it was explained to be aimed towards adults and everyone in general.

Next, on Pretty All Friends itself. It’s supposed to be a 10th year anniversary project to celebrate the Pretty Rhythm arcade game born in 2010, which marked the start of what is officialy called now “Pretty Series franchise”.

The thing is they still haven’t revealed what kind of project PAF is, and the only thing they’re using it for so far is to easily merchandise goods and collabs with the past main characters. While I don’t believe it’s the case, it’s possible the dakis were made on purpose to spark controversy, like the Kinpri naked tickets. One thing important to note is that almost all the goods so far were aimed toward adult women. They want to merchandise things to girls who became women after playing Pretty Rhythm 8 years ago/ after watching PriPara 4 years ago. While some kids in Japan do put on makeup too, all the PAF goods were clearly aimed at adult women, with stuff like the cosmetics, perfume etc.

This is something clearly reflected in the official description of Pretty All Friends, which has the sentence “The main characters are closer to adults now”.  This is reflected in the PAF official visuals, as all the girls are taller compared to their respective anime versions.

So in the end, while surprising, these dakimakura are the logical continuation of the goods they’re releasing. This is the first time they release PAF goods primarily aimed toward adult men. There might be more to come later. Though I highly doubt they’ll ever make anything sexier for the girls than those dakimakuras. If there’s more goods like that later, it’ll be at the same level.

I’ve been going through reactions of the yakuza I know too:
(Prism Yakuza= Japanese fans who are fan of all of Pretty Series, and who follow the Pretty Series since the start of PriPara, and hence watched at least Rainbow Live. Their opinions are always very pertinent so when I do posts like these I always post some of their tweets.)

Most seem to think the same as me, pointing out all of the things I talked about above. As in they think its weird and are pretty surprised, but that it can be thought of as logical(logical/=good thing) if you think about all the stuff I explained.

For example how Hugtto is also getting that kind of daki. Some of been countering this argument though with how swimsuits were banned after something happened in 2009 purikyua, until the 2015 season. Something like that. (I’m too lazy to write the full story. I guess people reading this already knows anyway.)

Interestingly I also saw at least one person who seems okay with the sexualizing aspect, as they themselves sometimes make pron fanart or doujins of Pretty Series characters, but seems to be against the daki because it’s sexualization by official goods.

Overall, even those who are unhappy about it may be planning to buy it, seeing how long we waited for Pretty Rhythm to get more goods. Or at the very least taking the news in a nice way overall or with jokes.

Like with this tweet above, joking on what if on release date, the PAF swimsuit daki actually all have pictures of the girls in fisher gear on boats instead. Referencing how the PP S2 ED2 Marilyn Monroe pinup inspired Sophie shot got censored. A lot of yakuza jokingly said they’d actually rather buy this than the swimsuits, and I agree.

Seeing this joke, another fan drew this, which made me laugh a lot. I’d definitely buy this.

Some said the dakis only feels official in name as it’s not like one of the chara designers did it.

A lot are voicing opinions on what kind of daki they could have made instead too. Like using the same illustration as the poster from the Rainbow Live Guidebook. Or how It’d be nice if they released dakis of characters like Kyouko, Ethni or Momo.

Multiple people said they should release a daki of Director instead. It would definitely sell too. It’s very interesting to note how he’s the one who gets the most cheers during events including seiyuu, as fans always want to thank him and the staff for all the risks they took to make Kinpri possible.

A lot also said how the goods decision making related staff are definitely looking at the fandom reactions on Twitter and reading tweets, so you should tweet right now what kind of goods or things you want to happen in the Pretty Series Franchise, they will definitely see it and maybe consider it.

Another funny comic: Shougo reacting to the Yui dakis. Ends up buying them all. Then when Yui brags on how hers sold out, he tells her they just didn’t make up much in the first place since she sucks so much.

As for more general opinions

There’s a lot of people on all sides from what I can see. People happy about it. People unhappy about it. People who don’t care.

I don’t want to generalize, but basically, it seems most of the people unhappy and protesting about the dakimakuras are people who only like PriPara/Prichan and aren’t part of the Kinpri/PrettyRhythm fandom.
(lol those 2 dudes on /ai/ gonna say I hate PP again).

Though to be honest it’s simple statistics, seeing the overwhelmingly number of PriPara only fans compared to Pretty Rhythm/Kinpri fans who also like PP.

It seems the controversy is getting big enough to attract non fans too. I’ve seen accounts that have only been made a few hours ago tweet about it. There’s multiple possibilities: either trolls, bots, or people who aren’t fans protesting about it, or people who are fans but didn’t use Twitter until now, and decided to protest.

The situation is very similar to when the naked preorder tickets for Kinpri were announced, with how around hundred of fans said that it’s not Pretty Rhythm and sexualizing the characters is bad. Back then, Pretty Rhythm wasn’t as popular as now, and PriPara had just started so the scale is different. In fact, some of the people complaining about the dakis are countering the “no one complains when it’s Kinpri/boys” argument saying they did complain at that time, and  already didn’t like the sexualization in Kinpri either.

There’s a lot of Korean fans saying it’s a huge issue that you shouldn’t downplay it as “the swimsuits are cute anyway”, or “it’ll only be sold at comiket anyway and not in korea”, “it’s just how objectification has always been in Japan anyway”. They’re saying that this kind of thing participates in objectification of women, that it’ll be a bad influence for little girls in Japan and Korea, and that Korean fans think about Japanese kids too hence why they protest. I actually really agree with the objectification is bad thing, but I really think there’s other things they should worry about first rather than these dakis.

I don’t read korean but it seems there’s a joint action planned/that was already done, to send complaints to TakaraTomy and Icrea and cancel the dakis.

There was also a petition on Change.org which got around 2k signs. I don’t think there’s any chance of it getting cancelled, Comiket is only a few days away, they’ll loose money if they don’t release it. The staff obviously knew there would be some controversy to some extent and yet they still decided to do these goods. So I don’t think they’ll cancel or change the illustrations. They definitely thought about people complaining because “the girls are underage” too. I think they did the daki anyway because the PAF version of the girls are supposed to be older.

There’s also a lot of Japanese tweets, some from people who may not even be actual Pretty Series fans, that are saying stuff like how it’s only Koreans unhappy about it and that it’s Koreans tweeting with the Japanese tag. Obviously judging things like this is hard, and I’m not a Social Media analyst, but I don’t think this is true at all. A lot of fans, both Japanese and Koreans, are unhappy about it. Saying it’s a very serious issue and that the Pretty Series franchise shouldn’t sexualize children characters. Or stuff like how if parents see these dakimakuras, they’ll think it’s lewd and forbid their kids from consuming Pretty Series related things. (The staff is aware of this, hence they’ll only release it at Comiket and irregular events, and not Prism Stone shops, so I don’t think this kind of argument is valid) Or how this will be bad influence to the little girls, as these are characters they admire and are influenced from, so if they see that they’ll think you need to get in swimsuits and appeal to men. Or that idols can’t sell without showing their bodies. These kinds of arguments are close to why I think the dakis are bad, but still different from it. (I think even if this kind of arguments are right, if anime characters are such a big influence on your kids, then you’re doing it wrong in the first place. And the best thing to do is to explain to them why it’s wrong in the first place, instead of simply wishing for the wrong content to disappear, because it won’t.)

One thing I don’t get, as sadly I don’t read Korean, is how there’s tons of Koreans fans getting shocked by older things as well. While I said at the start Pretty Series have few instances of sexual fanservice, there are a few things up to this point that should have caused such controversy long ago. You’ve got some lyrics or scenes that can be even worse than those dakis depending of your interpretation. I guess it’s because they’re only discovering these things now, because a lot of things in the Korean versions are censored: Yamada san in AD and DMF having a shirt over his torso. Hiro having his towel covering more in that famous episode 39 bath scene. Leona being made into a girl. Etc. As for the Marilyn Monroe pinup inspired poses of PPs2 ED2, I’m guessing the EDs are different or skipped in the Korean versions.

It’s sad because sometimes some extremely “normal” things get censored in the Korean version too, like Sophie kissing Laala and Mireille on the cheek in PPs2. (thanks Lunawing for the pic)

Going to the extreme, you also have pretty racist Japanese tweets saying stuff like “it’s just Korean feminists throwing a fit again”

That one racist tweet I saw mentioned “again” because this incident would be what I call the 3rd incident of the kind: Where the general reaction of Korean fans is much more negative than the general reaction of japanese fans (again, a lot of JP fans are against the daki too). I already wrote about the first two cases on this blog and my Twitter but here’s a recap:

The 1st case was 2 months after PRIDE the HERO released, in mid September 2017. It seems a certain problem was getting out of hand in the Pretty Series fanbase, mostly in the Korean fanbase: some fans were extremely vocal, trying to impose on others fans the idea that Kouji and Ito aren’t dating, and that the canon couple is Kouji and Hiro. That’s typically the kind of people I call “delusional”. Director tweeted about the issue. He said that he strongly disapproves of people who deny the FACT that Kouji and Ito are dating, trying to impose their own interpretation of the events on other fans. But needless to say, you’re free to do whatever you want in fan works. A lot of delusional fans were very angry about it and even tweeted him insults and threats. I don’t think it’s 100% related, but having to deal with this kind of stupid harassment might be among the reasons why he closed his Twitter account a few months later, at the end of 2017.
The sad truth about this incident is that no one is really at fault, besides whoever decides to censor the anime’s korean versions so much. Like I said above, a lot of things get censored in the Pretty Series anime in Korea. In the Korean dub of Rainbow Live, the Ito Kouji scenes were censored, and the story was rewritten as if they aren’t dating by the end.  I only discovered this with this incident in September. So some of the “delusional” fans surely weren’t that delusional, and genuinely thought they got tricked when they saw Kinpri2 and see that Kouji and Ito are indeed a couple.

The second incident was after the June 10th Rose Party 2018 event. During it, the seiyuu played a game were they separated into two groups, and they needed to brainstorm random ideas to make up fictional Kinpri related stories. During the game, one of the ideas that got out was a story with Leo, Louis and Yukisama as girls in Shin’s life. Everyone had a good time, but it became a huge deal among Korean fans. I didn’t read about this as much as the 1st incident, but basically it seems a lot of fans were unhappy about the genderbender, and were angry how they specifically used the characters that are very feminine in the first place instead of keeping them as boys. And the whole scenario was basically Shin being surrounded by these girls like in a galge, and the joke wasn’t well received at all with Korean fans.  Unlike the 1st incident, I haven’t read all the story yet, and none of the staff talked about it, and Director isn’t on Twitter anymore. So I’m not sure if I understand everything and whether I agree with the Korean fans or not. You can find here a summary of the event also talking about this incident. It was written by a korean fan living in japan (that same fan is also strongly against the daki and tweeted many things similar to what I reported above)
Again, this incident wasn’t really anyone’s fault. seeing the popularity in Korea, the companies behind Pretty Series are very wary of the sensibilities of Korean fans at this point. No one could predict a random non canon thing the seiyuu did for fun would turn out into such a big controversy. And it’s ironic when you consider the incident wouldn’t have happened if they had randomly decided to stream the night session instead of the day session. As the seiyuu played the same game but used different ideas.

Anyway, all of this is really interesting. I’m not sure there’s ever been a franchise linking Japanese and Koreans fans this much. Strictly speaking, there’s stuff like FGO that are much bigger, but I mean something more culturally deep. DMF has tons of Koreans characters after all. I think TakaraTomy, SynSophia, Tatsunoko and Dong Woo tries their best to please all the fans so this kind of controversy don’t happen. I don’t know who approved the dakis, but they definitely expected some controversy, but I wonder if they expected that much. It seems they still have a way to go to properly understand Korean fans. Some Japanese fans too need to learn how to coexist, all the racist people need to be purged too so there’s less weird comments. I think the Japanese Pretty Series fandom is one of the best I’ve ever seen.  At this rate, if similar incidents happen, it might turn out bad, which would be a real shame. Though I’m not worrying for the yakuza and people who watch Pretty Rhythm /Kinpri after seeing PriPara/Prichan. Since PriPara and later Kinpri released, I’ve never seen any yakuza acting like an elitist and rejecting those who got into the franchise with Kinpri or PriPara.

Anyway for now we need to wait and see what will happen, if nothing at all. Maybe BPO will really replace the swimsuits on the daki with fisher gear.

I think this tweet by Emu’s san summarizes the situation best and I couldn’t agree more: “If only they told us what Pretty All Friends actually is, along with an awesome trailer, everyone would be so hyped no one would care about what kind of goods they’re releasing”
If they weren’t only thinking about making money with PAF with tons of goods, including questionable ones like those dakis, and instead actually made something bigger out of it, all of this wouldn’t happen. Like, imagine if PAF was a Dream Match like anime with Prism Show Battles and Idol Battles among all the characters in the franchise, such as Mion vs Bell, Faruru vs White Girl, Mia vs Alexander. And they’d release a tie up action game where you could reenact these battles. I think Virtual On like gameplay would be nice. Or something totally new, to completely include the skating, Prism Shows, idol and streaming elements of all the series.

Note: I say daki, everyone says daki, but mind the fact it’s actually covers. 10k yen for a cover, which is pretty expensive. You still need to buy the actual cushion separately. Or use it as something else than a daki, for example hanging it like a poster.

Edit on August 8th 2018

A seemingly bigger controversy started on August 8th.

On August 1st, Dash Store announced following the Rainbow Live collabs goods focusing on Happy Rain then Bell Rose, they’re planning a third Pretty Series goods collab. This time not with Rainbow Live but with Pretty All Friends, lasting from September 15th to October 11th 2018. Similar to the time with Bell Rose, they teased the collab with a new visual using silhouettes, saying they’ll give out more info and reveal a silhouette every Wednesday till the collab starts. While it’s silhouetted, you can clearly recognize Mion Aira Rizumu, Mia, Naru, Laala and Yui, they seem to be wearing maid café like outfits.

On August 8th, the first reveal happened. The three silhouettes at the front are MARs. The costumes actually aren’t maid costumes, but “taisho roman stylized tea ceremony uniforms”.

This is turning out to be very problematic for some Korean fans, and there’s now more than 200 tweets replying to the Dash Store tweet announcement, saying the costumes are a bad thing. There’s also multiple hahstags about it.
#プリティーオールフレンズ_大正ロマン_修正しろ  “Change the taisho roman style Pretty All Friends goods”
#プリティーオールフレンズ_大正時代の美化を_やめてください  “Stop the glorification of Taisho era with the Pretty All Friends goods”
#プリティーオールフレンズ_戰爭美化_フィードバックしろ
“Tell the Pretty All Friends staff to stop (imperial japan) wars’ glorification”

Note: I’m not a specialist in japanese and korean history, so while I spent some time googling, there might be errors in what follows.

Taisho Era lasted from 1912 to 1926. It followed the Meiji Era, which was when Japan fully opened up to western countries. So during that period, clothing accepted as formal attire for men and women was a big mix of japanese culture and european cultures like Great Britain. Women at the time in Japan faced a lot of unfair rules and oppressions (technically still the case in Japan or France), with ideas like “running or sports shouldn’t be done by women”. But at the same time, because of the mix of clothes cultures, gender roles in clothes and clothing rules for women became a bit more relaxed during that era. For example women were allowed to wear some types of traditional wear/kimono that they weren’t allowed to before. And some of these era’s outfits, like the ones the characters wear in the manga I linked above wear, are very cute. Because of that, in Japan there’s a “Taisho Roman style”  that has been developed, outfits similar to westernojapanese outfits of the era. And when it comes to making random alternative outfits or goods for anime/game characters,  “Taisho Roman style” outfits are a very popular choice among Japanese companies.

Japan annexed Korea in 1910, and Korea stayed under Japan until the end of WW2 in 1945. We all know about the atrocities that have been committed by Japan during WW2 in China, Korea etc, but I’m not sure of what happened during Taisho Era and during WW1. Judging by the fact that Japan was handling Korea like a colony, I’d guess it was like European colonies in Africa, Asia and America.  As in there must have been many evil deeds, like land and resources stealing, killings, rapes, and promising the people of those countries citizenship of the mainland but basically treating them like subhumans.

(all of the following isn’t necessarily from this tweet, I mixed various impressions I saw) Koreans fans say that using these kind of outfits is a form of softening up the crimes of  japan at the time.  Some Koreans fans also dislike the term “taisho roman” itself because they think it means to glorify the era. (In my opinion, it’s just a case of Japanese using English words differently. There’s probably racist people in Japan who use the term to say “it was so nice when we were colonizing Koreans”  but it doesn’t mean the term itself means that. ) And lastly they think that using outfits from that era means that people who don’t bother to read history will only see the beautiful side of the era and won’t realize it was a horrific era for Korean people. This goes back to the first point but slightly different I guess. (Also, this may be a bit racist of me to say that, I’m not trying to tone down the issue,  and it’s a slightly different discussion than this controversy, but: some people in the world, and definitely some Japanese people, are so oblivious about some historical things and the world, you’d better not worry about it or it’ll just make you depressed.Like,  despite the huge role France had in it, black people slavery isn’t taught in French public school either. If I bothered thinking about all the stupid white people who don’t even know about it and are racist it’ll just be a waste of time.)

These points seems to be the reasons behind the controversy.

For now, Dash Store only revealed the MARs visuals, and haven’t said anything about what kind of goods they’ll sell yet. There’s a big chance it’ll be like the two previous collabs: badges, a t-shirt with the key visual, etc. And two raffles if you buy above a certain amount:
one chance to get a character cardboard print they used for decoration of the shop
one chance to participate to a sign and handshake event with a seiyuu that they should announce later (it was Serizawa Yuu for Happy Rain, Goto Saori for Bell Rose)

It’s possible the other characters besides MARs aren’t even wearing “Taisho Roman style” costumes.

It’s not the first time nor the last time a Japanese anime/game franchise does “taisho roman style” costumes like that, but I’m not sure if controversy about it happens often.  For example, there’s the same kind of “taisho roman style” outfits in the Love Live mobage, and yet LL is still extremely popular in Korea. And quickly googling, I haven’t found that controversy happened (Maybe controversy did happen but I don’t know about it as I’m not part of the LL fanbase.)

However, after googling, I found out the Ensemble Stars mobage did have a taisho era controversy at the start of July 2018. Back then the mobage announced they’re doing an event called “moon theater something” (the point is they didn’t use the words “taisho era” or “taisho roman”).  On key visual and later cards released, some characters were wearing uniforms similar to Japanese army of the era.(the guys in black at the right)

In my opinion, this is a different case than the PAF dash store goods. Because the Ensemble Stars characters are wearing outfits that are similar to Japanese army officials who used to rule Korea. They’re not simply wearing outfits that Japanese citizens and non Japanese people in Japan used to wear during the era. I think it’s an important difference. It’s like someone cosplaying a nazi, and someone cosplaying a german citizen durin ww2 era. You wouldn’t think the later is necessarily idealizing nazis.
In the end, the company of Ensemble Star issued a statement, saying that the outfits have no relations with military outfits of the taisho era. And that the uniforms are based on the event’s theme of theater and moon blablabla. But they didn’t apologize. I don’t think their defense is solid, as the outfits are undoubtedly similar than those taisho era army uniform. However, I think I tend to lean on the side that as long as the outfits aren’t 100% identical, and as long as the company didn’t have ill thoughts, it could be fine. But I’m not saying people upset at it are wrong either. Maybe I don’t feel offended enough because I’m not Korean. But yeah anyway the PAF Dash Store goods are much less worse than this.

Another thing. I’m not a Kabuki specialist, I only went to Kabuki theater once in my life. However, seeing how old and “conservative” of an art it is, revisionism or racist Kabuki pieces probably exist. Kabuki always used to be about centuries old stories to avoid censorship by the shogun etc. But in these past 50-40 years there’s probably pieces like that which emerged.  “Probably” as I tried to google, but didn’t find anything. Anyway, a character like Yukisama is really popular in the Korean fanbase of Kinpri. Most Kinpri Korean fans cosplayers I follow on twitter cosplay Yukisama very often too. It seems a lot of Koreans fans seem to be angry because taisho roman is something deeply engrained in Japanese culture, and seem to reject Japanese culture generally. And yet I’ve never seen cases of Korean fans complaining about Yukisama being a character based on a traditional Japanese cultural art or controversy about it. (Again, I don’t read Korean so maybe I just missed it)

Sega released a Sakura Taisen mobage in 2018, but only in Korea. This means there’s a big enough Sakura Taisen fanbase in Korea. Even though Sakura Taisen takes place in Taisho era, that the main character Oogami Ichiro is part of the Japanese imperial navy, and is the leader of a team under the Japanese emperor.  Unless I’m missing some crucial piece of information, this means Taisho Era itself is an offending subject, but not that much either. At least less so than WW2 era Japan. And at the very least, it means that not everyone in Korea thinks that Taisho Era related things are necessarily offensive.

Though I guess Sakura Taisen is a very peculiar example, because the Taisho Era in its universe doesn’t cover the same time period as in IRL and with its mechas and demons is obviously overfictional. Plus while one could interpret Sakura Taisen as glorifying imperialist Japan and taisho era, it also criticizes Japan of the era, with stuff like the Japanese army being bad guys, etc.

For the daki case, while I don’t agree at all with some of the arguments, I still think the dakis are bad for other personal reasons. For this Taisho Roman incident, I’m not sure the outfits are a bad thing. I’m wondering if it’s not a consequence of the still ongoing daki controversy. I’m not saying that Koreans shouldn’t be offended. However it seems that since the daki controversy, all the Pretty Series Korean fans right now are scrutinizing the Japanese official announcements tweets, especially anything in relation with “Pretty All Friends” and it’s official hashtag “prettyall”, and that some of them just found a new reason to lash out at the franchise. Plus during the previous 2 Dash Store collabs, pretty much only yakuza and the people who watched RL after seeing Kinpri, PriPara and Prichan cared about it. Basically it’s like the Lost Plus One events with Tsubota Fumi, Director and Kato Daisuke. Only old Japanese fans like the yakuza care about stuff like that. (Just in case, “it’s ok if no ones sees it” isn’t the point I’m trying to make here, I’m just pointing out the fact that usually most Korean fans and even most Japanese fans didn’t care much about the Dash Store collabs)

Another very important point: This is just my opinion as someone nor Japanese or Korean but obviously TakaraTomy had no ill intent with these costumes. Some could argue that even if TakaraTomy itself has no ill intention, the costumes are bad because of the current successive Japanese governments who make light of the atrocities Japan did and don’t apologize for it, the yasukuni shrine visits etc. it’s true that Japan governments unlike Germany or America for example doesn’t reflect on WW2 or past wars, and doesn’t face its responsibility. Because of that, the war crimes they did aren’t taught at school, and in turn you don’t have a lot of Japanese people caring about them or questioning the government about it. So even if the governments don’t wanna talk about it, you don’t have public debate about it like you have now about the war in Iraq for example in EU countries or USA.

I think the “it’s bad because the country doesn’t reflect and doesn’t apologize” argument should be used case by case instead of generalized. Before attacking the PAF Dash Store goods, there’s many other things that should be addressed to instead. That’s also because of this reasoning that I don’t agree with the people saying Kancolle is trivializing Japan’s warship and crimes, even if I don’t play it and don’t care about the franchise at all.

I’m not trusting TakaraTomy because I’m a huge Pretty Series fan. There’s much more objective reasons. In the first place, Pretty Series is a franchise heavily ingrained in both Japan and South Korea. The anime adaptations are made by Tatsunoko and Dong Woo, which is a South Korean animation studio. If any of the top brass at TakaraTomy were racist against Koreans or didn’t care about offending them, Pretty Series wouldn’t exist the way it does right now. And needless to say, an anime like Dear My Future, which is about Japanese people and Korean people becoming friends with each other, wouldn’t exist either. (And in all of DMF there’s never been a racist or stereotypical representation of its Korean characters.)

As someone who regularly checks most of the anime and game staff on social media for more than 5 years, I can guarantee at 99% that none of them are racist against Koreans either. In fact, when Pretty Rhythm first ended in 2014, Director tweeted lots of info on the series. When speaking on DMF in particular, he criticized the Japanese government a lot, for always putting oil on fire regarding Korean and WW2 history matters instead of trying to reconcile the countries. And he said how he regrets he can’t do anything to change things besides making anime like DMF. I’m saying this because as shown recently with the MMO Junkie anime director , or the crappy isekai author, saying racist things especially against Koreans isn’t something anime industry people are above of. And because of how tolerated some of these ideas can be in Japan, they aren’t ashamed of saying stuff like that on public social media, so it can be easily found.

One of the top brass in the Pretty Series franchise is Producer Ohba Shin. For example, he’s among the producers who decided that the 4th season of PriPara would be named Idol Time PriPara and that it would include a new character named Yui. He’s the one who did the first ever prototype sketch of Yui, which has her together with an untransformed Laala. He’s the one who does the ideas and prototype sketches for most(maybe all) of the toys. He’s among the people who decided on the initial concepts of DMF and RL too, so obviously he can’t be racist against Koreans.

But needless to say, these people I mention above aren’t the ones responsible for the goods, especially derivative goods handled by other companies like most PAF goods so far. Pretty Series top brass like producer Shin Ohba must definitely initially approve these kinds of goods, but then I don’t know how much decision power or how much they follow the decision process down the road. It is true that whoever decided on these “Taisho Roman” style goods, whether they are racist against Koreans or not, should have realized in the first place that this would be a bad move right after the daki controversy which angered not only Japanese fans but many Koreans fans too. Then again, these costumes are probably something that were decided long ago, they probably planned the 3 Dash Store collabs from the start. And the people in the production pipeline of the dash store goods collab, and the people in the production pipeline  for Icrea’s dakis, are definitely different people too. The Dash Store staff probably didn’t even know about the daki controversy.

It seems there’s a Korean fan who called Dong Woo about the Taisho Roman outfits. From what I can get using google translate, Dong Woo answered that PAF isn’t an anime (yet?), that the goods are 100% handled by the Japanese, and are Japan only so they don’t have any say in it.

In my opinion, these costumes are much less problematic and offending than the FGO event thing some weeks ago for example.

Some Koreans fans are also pointing out that August 15th is the anniversary of when Korea was liberated from Japan rule. Assuming the other characters are wearing Taisho Roman style clothes too, this means Dash Store will reveal “taisho roman” goods on August 15th, as it’s next Wednesday. I don’t think it’s something done on purpose and is an unfortunate coincidence. While I think the FGO WW2 event thing deserves much more condemnation,even so I don’t think Type Moon announced the event on June 6 on purpose. (June 6 is Korea’s Memorial Day).

Going back to my own opinion, I think even if you make/wear outfits that are slightly similar to historically bad things (in this case, Japanese imperial uniform, Nazism), as long as they’re not 100% identical and that you don’t agree with the ideas, it might be okay. And I think that among those historically bad things, there’s different levels of acceptance. For example, nazi symbols like the swastika should be condemned regardless if the person had racist ideas or not. (but even then it’s complicated and not a good example of what I mean, because it looks the same as that one Buddhist symbol, which is also a kanji. I remember discovering it Bleach, with how it’s used to write Bankai).  Another example which I think falls into that is blackface. Hence why I was unhappy with the Gaki no Tsukai 2017 thing and disagreed with the “lol you’re easily offended, freedom of speech, japan has different rules, etc” arguments.
But I think there’s things that don’t fall in that “auto condemn category”,  as long as the people who do it don’t actually share the ideas the outfits/symbol is associated with historically.
For example you’ve got the FFF squad in Bakatest, who hunts students of the F class that get goods grades or try to get girlfriends. Being black, I could have any reason to be revolted by that, but I’m not because while Inoue Kenji inspired himself from KKK, obviously he’s not saying that KKK’s ideology is a good thing. I don’t think Bakatest using KKK as a joke is a “trivialization” of the KKK, just like I don’t think Kancolle or the PAF Dash Store goods “Taisho Roman” outfits are a “trivialization” of Japan’s crimes either. And I think it’s at the same “level” as Japan not apologizing, as the KKK actually still exist today and didn’t apologize either. Tons of towns/street names, rich families, businesses and overall stuff consequences of slavery and/or colonization still exist in today france as well and didn’t apologize either. So while I’m not Korean I think I have the “right” to talk about these kind of things.
I do realize not everyone share my opinion.  As an exemple, I think this kind of thing is the main reason why Yousei Teikoku never did a live in France. Despite being in activity for over 20 years. Despite hitting jackpot and getting ultra poplar worldwide after they did the Mirai Nikki songs, thanks to the show’s exploding popularity with twist filled story, charismatic characters like Yuno, and how it was airing during the popularization of social medias, & official anime simultaneous streams. Yousei Teikoku’s backstory, terms, or some of their costumes are obviously at least 1% third reich inspired. They often use German too. But it doesn’t mean that they actually agree with those ideologies. They often make fun of their group’s antics too. But I’m sure some people in France would think of them as offensive. Over the years, there’s been much more unknown Japanese singers and groups getting invited at cons in France, and yet no one ever brought over Yousei Teikoku. I think con organizers fear a possible controversy if they invite them. And it’s definitely not because Yousei Teikoku members dislike traveling, as they already went to USA. Or maybe Yui sama just really hate French people.

It will be important to check popularity indicators of the overall franchise in south korea, to see how much of an impact these two controversies will have. There’s some Koreans fans I follow too which are very unhappy about it. I want to become friends with them and talk with them about it to get a better idea. I think it’s be a real shame if the franchise ends up permanently damaged because of this after all the efforts it did, especially for Pretty Rhythm/Kinpri.

In conclusion. While I do think these costumes can be interpreted in a bad way, I don’t think it’s a really huge bad thing and extremely disrespectful against Koreans. But again, I’m not Korean so maybe I just can’t understand how bad this is.  And I’m not saying that their actions are meaningless, but  in the first place as long as the Japanese government don’t change, and Japan doesn’t face its respectability and teach its atrocities at school, whether there’s “Taisho Roman” or not won’t change anything inthe grand scale of things.
Also, while I think it’s a less condemnable thing than the dakis, I think there’s a much higher chance that TakaraTomy does something about the costumes than for the dakis. At best TakaraTomy/Dash Store will apologize(though I think Japanese companies don’t apologize). Then if they don’t apologize, they might issue a statement saying they didn’t mean to offend Korean fans, but at the same time without apologizing. Then they might keep the outfits but stop using the term “taisho roman tea ceremony uniforms” as taisho era isn’t even the first thing you think about when seeing these costumes anyway. They can just say they’re “maid kimonos tea ceremony uniforms. “

It’s ironic all of this happened on DMF’s main character Ageha’s Mia’s bday  which was recently revealed to be August 8th(which is also the same as DJ Coo, and DJ Koo too)

“If the Prizmmy girls were wearing the Taisho Roman PAF Dash Store outfits,  Puretty would say it’s cute and ask if they could wear it too. Mia and Prizmmy would be happy and say they’d like to wear Korean traditional outfits too.”

Edit on August 9th 2018

Icrea and Saico issued a statement saying they will sell the PAF cushion cover by web order only and won’t sell it at C94 anymore. Orders will be accepted starting August 10th at 1000 JP time.

Edit on August 10th

They also didn’t publish anything on August 15th, they’ll probably reveal more info on the goods on August 22th.

Edit on August 29th:

Dash Store published new tweets about the PAF collab on August 29th. They apologized for the long delay without news. The collab main visual changed to Laala and Naru Pretty All Friends coord swap. There will be a tapestry with the same illustration, and PriPara keyholders and badges using illustrations from PriPuz. They said more info will come later. They haven’t said if the goods with the teashop uniforms goods are actually canceled or not.
I thought they just removed the term “taisho roman” and would keep the goods themselves, I think it would have been the best choice. But now it’s possible they canceled the manufacture of the goods with the teashop uniforms coords except for coords swaps which were also planned, and are covering what’s missing with the PriPara goods.
It would be a real shame if the teashop uniform goods are really canceled as it was one of the first times we’d get goods with MARs.

Edit on September 5th: 

It seems the Teashop costume goods are definitely canceled, a real shame. See this thread

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Edit on September 15th: Yeah the collab started and they didn’t sell anything related to the initial reveal nor used the illustration. A real shame. MARs lost one good occasion for getting new goods. We’ll also never see the rest of the characters wearing the teashop uniforms. Some fanartists drew them wearing it to imagine how it would’ve looked like.

Also if you look at the protest tags, some of the people who manage the newly made accounts spamming the tag, also use fanart now. Some are pretty good too actually.
I found this one with Naru using Pure Pure Arrow to shoot the big cushion cover, which is really ironic: Again, regardless of whether you think the covers are bad or not, it’s weird all these people complaining about it and who stopped watching Pretty Series after being revolted by the covers, supposedly kept watching until now despite all the stuff that happened in the past.(tons of the sexy coords or dances like Bell’s Edel Rose S Team coord, the lyrics etc)
Hyakku Percent Pure Pure Arrow is one of the Prism Jumps that has a sexual imagery in it. It’s like with Wakana and Otoha during Kakumei no Rosette Nebula, or Hiro during Jounetsu Neppu Starlight Kiss or one of Rizumu’s jump I forgot. They all make a face and/or moan as if they’re having an orgasm. In the CG team interview in the PRASS guidebook, which I still haven’t translated, they talk about that kind of sexual aspect in Prism Jumps too.

Edit on October 10th:

On October 6th, people who had pre-ordered the big cushion cover online, after it was switched to online sale only, received a letter telling them the product has been canceled. The letter says in summary:
“The covers were canceled because Tatsunoko, the rights holder who gave the permission to our company to sell the goods, took back its permission. (It seems it was Tatsunoko for these goods, but the original rights holder of Pretty Series is Takara Tomy). At first, Tatsunoko gave us the authorization to make the products. But a bit after the products’ announcement, Tatsunoko decided the products do not match the image of Pretty All Friends, and decided to cancel them. This is the reason they gave us. Our company tried to negotiate until the last second but we weren’t able to avoid the goods’ cancelation. Please contact Tatsunoko for further inquiries.”
And it included a form to fill and send back, to tell the company what kind of reimbursement method you prefer.

I saw a tweet about how the form wasn’t very clear with some of the reimbursement conditions, and they had to call the company to ask a few details.

I saw a lot of Japanese fans sad about it. Some saying they hate Koreans blablabla, which is a really stupid reaction. Btw, I forgot if I said it in all the post above, but one of the main reasons why a lot of Korean fans complained about it, is because PriPara is still airing there right now. So even assuming my argument saying the characters in PAF are adults anyway is 100% true, for them, Laala is a kid.

I’m not sad myself about the cancelation, but it hurts to see some of the Prism Yakuza I know who were sad about it, including one of my best online friends like Sakucchi. I forgot if I mentioned it already, but most Prism Yakuza are women, so it’s not only “creepy male otaku” who are sad about it either.

Some made some really funny jokes about it as always. As I previously said, a lot said they’d actually buy a Sophie fisherman outfit cover. Someone drew it this time. “Ethically correct Sophie cover”. Made me laugh. The second pic references the scarf she wore in s1 that later got changed in the disc release, probably because some people could think it looked like the bastard who would kill hostages held by Infinite Stratos.

Saying they should make a cover for Akaii Meganee instead.

There was a really funny fanart depicting Mireille and others in depression after seeing the cancelation announcement because they wanted the Laala one, but I can’t find it back sadly.

Another funny joke I saw, said if they canceled them because a lot of fans asked them to, then they should make a Non Sugar spinoff anime, because a lot of fans are asking for it too.

There’s also this tweet that went viral that retells how the complaint filled to BPO made the staff change Sophie’s outfit in PP s2 ED. Seeing how much RT this got, I guess even in Japan there are tons of people who still didn’t know about it. It says “Everyone talks how stupid the Kizuna Ai thing is, but remember something just as dumb happened in PriPara”. It references how there’s a lawyer called 太田啓子 that basically picked up the wrong battle and priorities: on twitter, she criticized NHK and Kizunai Ai, basically saying NHK shouldn’t feature Kizuna Ai because she’s objectification of women and a bad thing. (I won’t bother explaining why this is a very stupid thing to say.)

Anyway, while I wasn’t very supportive of the covers myself, it really sucks that they ended up canceling them, ceding to the extremely stupid arguments of the people opposing the covers. Most arguments like “this isn’t goods for kids. Don’t make it so kids can buy it, etc.” were already made irrelevant when then switched to online-only sale too.

They definitely changed their mind because of the complaints, but there are many fans who didn’t see a problem with the covers either. And tons of people who complained just made bot accounts and spammed Icrea and the related companies. There are even people who complained about it who aren’t even Pretty Series fans and believed it was Pretty Cure related goods.

But well whatever. The case is over now. The protest hashtag, especially the Korean one saying “don’t beautify taisho era” will probably keep getting spammed though, because the people against it basically converged the protest against all mobages, etc, who did a “taisho roman” thing. So the auto-tweets complaining about other franchises doing “taisho roman” keep including #PrettyAll tag even if the teashop outfits got canceled.

I’ll be sad for a while about the teashop goods. I’m even starting to wonder if their cancellation might be the reason why we didn’t get a new Pretty All Friends text episode in a while. They usually release once per month, but the last one was on July 27th. It was about the Puchi Rascal collab. Maybe the next one was supposed to be about the Dash Store collab and the teashop outfits, but since they got canceled, the story got canceled as well. This is pure speculation, but my guess is that Director is writing these text episodes. At least, I’m 100% convinced he’s the one deciding the plot. It’s possible he already wrote the next episode, which was a story with the Teashop Collab, but they decided to not release it after it got canceled. And now since he’s busy with SSS, he didn’t get the time to write/think up something else.

The Pretty Series history article explaining things like its relation with Oshamajo, Love Live, Aikatsu, and explaining the KING OF PRISM spin-offs is finished now. You can read it here.

2 thoughts on “Controversy on Pretty All Friends official “big cushion covers”, “Taisho Roman style” outfits

  1. Really interesting read!
    I’m a big Pretty Rhythm and PriPara fan, and I’m one of the people that were kind of uncomfortable about the dakis unafortunately (since I’m a girl who’s around the same age as the charas and a fan of PR). I did see a lot of controversy in the English fandom when that one PriPara ED that had to be censored came out too. Can’t talk about the taisho roman outfits since I’m not Korean
    I think the girls being in swimsuits definitely isn’t sexualization by itself, but I think there’s a big difference between that one Aira poster where she has this weird pink blush around the body and has accentuated curves + the dakis with skimpy clothes and poses and other pics where they are in swimsuits with normal expressions, if that makes sense? I am aware that there are other issues that are more important, but I’m also glad that people are speaking up about it idk. I’ve seen a 13-14 year old defending them and while I don’t agree I could understand that they found the PR girls attractive since they’re around 14 too, but they fact that they’re selling them at Comiket is pretty telling already so I’m kind of ??? at people defending it
    Of course, it would be kind of hypocritical of me to criticise the sexualization of the dakis while ignoring the sexualization of the boys in King of prism… I guess one could argue that at least Kinpri is targeted towards teenage girls that watched RL when they were young, or that the fanservice is so over the top that it isn’t meant to be taken seriously, or that the characters don’t look 15 (I’ve seen some people that thought Shin was older)…It doesn’t make it better of course, even though I really like the Kinpri movies and find them really fun. I just wanted to point it out to not only point at the dakis, as much as people are finding issue with it they’re still going to sell them. But as I said before, I’m just glad people are speaking up about it. In the end I still love the PR series and even though I don’t agree with some of the decisions the series makes I’m trying to take a neutral stance on these controversies, I don’t really agree with people who just want to boycott the whole series and such but if someone is an outsider to the series I guess I could understand.
    This ended up being way too long oops but to summarize thanks for your insight, it’s cool that you showed different stances on the issue and did your research to form your opinion, mostly agree with you

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