Does that make the giant inflatable schoolgirl idol an April Geniuses’ gag?

Marketing departments in the anime and video game industries love April Fools’ Day. Japan in general likes its promotions to have a healthy dose of fun and creativity, and when your target market is otaku, April 1 is a chance to salute silly in-jokes, dream up crazy sky’s-the-limit-budget projects, and generally tap directly into fan enthusiasm.

So when the official Twitter account for schoolgirl idol singer anime franchise Love Live! Sunshine tweeted that it would be adding a giant-sized figure of protagonist Chika Takami, called the Hyper Fabulous Ultimate Jumbo Sprawled Out EX, to its online store, most fans took one look at the date, April 1, and figured it was a joke. Sure, the account later tweeted a photo of the figure lying on the beach in Shizuoka Prefecture’s Numazu, where the anime takes place, but that’s probably just some rudimentary Photoshop image-splicing, or maybe a bit of CG.

But the fanbase for Love Live! is among the most dedicated and passionate in anime history, so some of Chika’s supporters were hoping against hope that this just might be real, and made their way to Mitohama, the section of coastline seen in the above photo. Ha, those crazy otaku, right?

Wrong.

When they got there, their idol was indeed waiting for them, lying on her stomach in the sand as a crowd gathered around her to snap photos.

Instead of the nebulous panty-obscuring black hole sometimes seen in anime, the gargantuan Chika’s gargantuan undies are on full display. Otaku, being otaku, promptly commenced taking upskirt shots.

▼ Hard-core Love Live! fans, let us know in the comments whether or not that’s a patch of discoloration or a canon-established birthmark on Chika’s inner thigh.

All of this raises the question of whether or not the Hyper Fabulous Ultimate Jumbo Sprawled Out EX Chika technically qualifies as an April Fool’s joke. In the initial announcement, the Love Live! Sunshine Twitter account said that while it was unveiling the product, it would not be taking orders for it, so even though you can’t buy it for yourself, its existence means that the franchise has made good on its promise.

Since it’s not being offered for sale, it’s unclear what will happen to the Hyper Fabulous Ultimate Jumbo Sprawled Out EX Chika. Maybe it’ll tour Japan, making the rounds of anime fan events. Perhaps the rights holders for Love Live! will be swayed by the fistfuls of cash superfans are no doubt willing to slap them in the face with. Who knows? We might even see the Hyper Fabulous Ultimate Jumbo Sprawled Out EX line expanded to include some of the many other Love Live! characters.

But in the meantime, let this be a lesson that while a lot of the things announced on April 1 turn out to be too good to be true, this isn’t one of them.

Sources: Otakomu, Hachima Kiko, Aqours Punch
Featured image: Twitter/@chinaiaru12

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s already looking forward to beach season, even though he’s never seen any giant anime girls on the Kanagawa coast.