Trend For Female Geeks: ‘Painful’ Anime Bags 

Trend For Female Geeks: ‘Painful’ Anime Bags 

In Japanese, they’re called “ita-bag” (痛バッグ) or, rather, “painful bag.” And for the country’s female geeks, they’re one surefire way to express their fandom.

This article was originally published in April 2015, but has since been updated after Sega gave out ita-bags at this year’s Tokyo Game Show.

For years now, geeky car owners have shown their love for anime, manga, and video games with “ itasha” (painmobiles). It’s been said that “ita” refers to the pain inflicted on the cars as well as the owner’s wallet.

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Likewise, these badges and buttons inflict a certain amount of pain on the bag and their owner’s wallet, with some geeky young women spending a large amount of cash to decorate their bags with characters from Yowamushi Pedal, Uta no Prince-sama, or any other anime or video games popular with female fans like The Basketball Which Kuroko Plays.

The trend isn’t brand-new (it started a while back), and it’s even been portrayed in the anime Shonen Hollywood. However, in late 2015, it started getting national news coverage in Japan.

These bags.

There is even an ita-bag idea book!

Below are photos from when the trend first hit nationwide morning TV in Japan a few years back.

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This woman says that ita-bag are a way for you to show just how much you love a particular character.

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Many of the buttons are limited edition and only on sale at special events. So some fans, like the one interviewed here, pay a premium for them, making it expensive to decorate these bags.

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The woman says she’s spent about 80,000 yen—or US$668—on bag decoration.

Here are fans who have spent between a couple hundred dollars on their bags up to around a thousand dollars—or more.

A thread popped up on 2ch, Japan’s biggest web forum, showing pics of the trend, which somewhat resembles the male geeks called Love Livers who cover their bags with Love Live merch.

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Below, you can see some more ita-bags from Twitter:

And the most impressive one of all.



    • I know that purikura machines do that to people in the photo, but I wouldn’t put it past someone to do the same thing themselves. It’s a little unnerving to me.

  • Adding flair to a bag I can understand. Heck, I would do it if even one of my fandoms had pins available. But what I don’t get is having 100 of the SAME pin on your bag. Is it for trading/swapping? To show you spent a gazillion yen on something rare? to buy them out so no one else can have them? I don’t get that.

    • It reminds me of Office Space.
      Fifteen is the minimum.
      Now, you know it’s up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare minimum. Or… well, like Brian, for example, has thirty seven pieces of flair.
      You do want to express yourself, don’t you?

    • That’s what I don’t get. My backpack often has random things pinned on them (souvenir badges I bought while backpacking, union stuff, random gaming things) but… why would you want a dozen of the same one all lined up in a grid like that?

  • Seeing all those pins just makes me want a new The World Ends With You game…

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