In the past, there was a tradition in the US military to paint pin-ups on aircrafts. Today, that tradition lives on in Japan. But there's an important difference: They're not cheesecake pin-ups. They're anime girls, and they're not only on aircrafts, but also recruitment posters. [Image: Aki Setsura]
One Cobra chopper from the 4th Anti Tank Helicopter Unit was covered with "Kisarazu Akane" (above). The 1st lieutenant is an "image character" for a unit on the base — an anime girl mascot, if you will, with missiles. Over the years, there have been other image characters.
Japan Self-Defense Forces (Kisarazu base) pic.twitter.com/Zm1IEXoyTK
— MASUDA-DO MUSEUM (@masudado003) August 4, 2016
On 2ch, the reaction to this has varied, with some wondering if it's OK to entrust these folks with Japan's defence. Others pointed out that these anime girls are similar to the aircraft pin-ups of yore in that they're not entirely serious.
[Image: Aki Setsura]
In recent years, however, that sort of saucy nose art has been deemed offensive in the West. That doesn't seem to be much of a concern in Japan: At the Kisarazu event, there was an Akane cosplayer on hand and even a sheet that listed the character's vital statistics. Her bust-waist-hip measurements were listed as a "national secret".
This anime girl-style painting on a military vehicles is a thing, but it doesn't seem to be widespread in Japan yet — nothing like the pin-ups on American aircraft during WWII were.
How can you tell that this is a Japanese military helicopter? Not a US or British helicopter.
Hmm maybe the Anime? pic.twitter.com/6pRR28jNmx
— Invent Anything (@inventanything) March 12, 2015
Anime girls, however, are used in official recruitment posters for the Japanese military.
In case you were wondering the answer is, "Yes, this is an actual Japan Self Defense Forces recruiting poster." All three services pictured. pic.twitter.com/AyP0Pd9ixn
— Michael Thomas Cucek (@MichaelTCucek) October 18, 2016
— 天野純一 (@doricono) May 18, 2014
— Nemesisネメシス (@zodiac0088) June 13, 2016
— toripy（Evil is LDP） (@t_toripy) July 30, 2015
Just more examples of just how widespread the country's geek culture is.
Recruitment poster for Japan Self Defense forces is a exactly what you thought it would be :) pic.twitter.com/rqbfn5SGzC
— migs81 (@migs81) September 15, 2014