Freebie given to moviegoers for newest Fate/stay night anime movie turns into a major windfall for one fan willing to part with the images of the heroine.

Even in Japan, anime movies that are part of larger franchises generally don’t draw large mainstream audiences. So to compensate, their marketing often focuses on trying to convince hardcore fans to come out and see the movie multiple times.

For example, Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel, the movie trilogy that comprises the latest branch of the sprawling Fate media empire of video games, anime, and manga, released its second part, Lost Butterfly, on January 12. The filmmakers waited until February 9, though, to start handing out “film strips” featuring frames of animation from the movie, to audiences. Each strip contains five sequential frames from the 117-minute movie, and the strip each moviegoer got was random.

One fan from Saitama Prefecture got extremely lucky when he received five full frames of Sakura, the film’s female lead. But wait, if Sakura is the female lead, she must have plenty of screen time, and thus show up in a large portion of the film strips, right? So what made this one special?

She’s topless, and in a first-person-point-of-view perspective.

While Fate has gone more or less all-ages as its media mix has spread to include broadcast-TV anime and console games, the franchise started off as an erotic visual novel PC game. The theatrical Lost Butterfly is under no duty to conform with broadcast standards or video game rating criteria, and so for many longtime Fate fans getting to see the anime Sakura naked, and animated with a theatrical feature-level budget, was a major highlight of the movie.

However, the fan who received the coveted film strip isn’t keeping it. Instead, he put it up for sale on Yahoo! Auction, one of Japan’s most popular online marketplaces. Over the course of eight days, it only attracted three bids, but that low number doesn’t mean there wasn’t any demand for it, since it eventually sold for 273,800 yen (US$2,470).

▼ Trailer for Lost Butterfly

What’s perhaps the craziest part of the whole story is that, like just about any contemporary anime movie, Lost Butterfly is digitally produced and screened, and the “film strips” are essentially replicas, since the movie wasn’t shot on film. As such, it’s not like the strip that sold for the eye-popping price is the one true manifestation of Sakura from which her on-screen appearance is born. Then again, this is Sakura we’re talking about, a character who’s able to get not only male Fate fans in the mood but some of their real-life girlfriends as well, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that someone was willing to part with over 270,000 yen for it, even as it’s hard not to be a little worried about buying certain anime-related items second-hand.

Source: Yahoo! Auction via Otakomu, Animate Times
Top image: Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel official website
Insert images: Yahoo! Auction