The girls of KKT21 want you to bleed for the good of society.

As The Birth of KKT21 opens, aspiring idol singer Sara is running late. As she dashes into the meeting room where the other four members of her just-formed idol unit have been waiting, she explains that she stopped to give directions to a woman she bumped into on the street who was on her way to donate blood.

That’s all the girls’ manager needs to hear before declaring that hence forth, the idol group will be known as KKT21, an abbreviation of Kenketsu (“Blood Donation”) 21st Century.

If the animation is a little choppy, that’s because The Birth of KKT21 isn’t the latest late-night TV anime offering. The five-and-a-half-minute short was actually produced by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, in response to dwindling blood donations from people in their 20s and teens (though as KKT21’s manager points out to 15-year-old Masumi, you have to be at least 16 to donate blood in Japan).

▼ But you’re never too young to be moved to tears by reading messages of thanks from people whose lives were saved by blood transfusions.

After getting their group name, KKT21 spends a lot more of their on-screen time talking about blood than they do music. Modern science still can’t synthesize human blood, they learn, and also that blood samples can’t be preserved for very long, meaning that there’s a constant need for volunteers. Luckily, they also discover there’s an online search engine that can direct would-be donors to nearby blood drives and donation facilities.

There’s quite a bit of talking, but the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare realizes that when you make an idol anime, you’d better give the audience at least one big song-and-dance scene, which comes when KKT21 sings their debut single, “A-B-O-AB! -Ima no Kimi ni Dekiru Koto-“ (or “A-B-O-AB! -The Thing You Can Do Right Now-“), which we’ve cued up below.

Granted, the members of KKT21 don’t move smoothly or sing in perfect-pitch harmony, but those are criticisms you could lob at a lot of real-life idol singer groups too, especially when they’re just starting out. And even if the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s foray into idol anime ends up as a one-and-done deal, hopefully it’ll still lead to blood donation centers receiving a few extra vials of otaku-sourced hemoglobin, and maybe those generous volunteers will get some merch from higher-quality anime in return.

Images: YouTube/MHLWchannel
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[ Read in Japanese ]