Sexy schoolgirl or stylized kimono-clad character? Which is better for advertising agricultural products?

Few franchises have as dedicated fanbases as the anime and video game series Love Live! does. When they’re not buying and wearing mountains of merchandise or taking their anime crushes everywhere they go, they’re at home studying the dances and lyrics to their favorite Love Live! songs to replicate at conventions.

But at times the fans’ love of Love Live! characters can go a little too over the top, and sadly that means Love Livers, as fans of the franchise are called, can have a bad reputation. On the very far extreme end of the spectrum, some fans even prefer to sexualize the underage characters in the franchise, which has rankled feminists in Japan.

The most recent example of that is the Love Live! Sunshine’s collaboration poster shown above, which came out in February and advertises locally grown mandarin oranges produced in cooperation with the agricultural cooperative group JA Nansun. It featured the character Chika Takami wearing a see-through or overly clingy skirt, and was the source of so many complaints that the mall where it was on display was forced to take it down.

Love Live! fans were outraged at the fact that the ad was removed, and after thousands of people signed a petition, they managed to successfully campaign to keep Chika as the ambassador for JA Nansun agricultural products, though it wasn’t specified whether she would be kept in the same image or not.

Now the newest ad is out, and it appears that the marketing company in charge of the posters listened to the criticism and responded in kind. But while the feminists are happy with the more tasteful approach, Love Live! fans are generally not.

The ad is for Numazu Cha tea, which is tea grown and produced in the Numazu area, where Love Live! Sunshine takes place, and features Chika dressed in a kimono enjoying the fresh scent of a tea leaf. Critics of the last ad love this new one, as it represents the understated beauty of Japanese aesthetics and art, with bold patterns, solid color blocks, and an almost ukiyo-e style backdrop. Most of all, there are no unnecessary displays of crotches or panties, and the ad is tasteful and appropriate for general audiences.

▼ “This collaboration poster between JA Nansun and Love Live! that was released yesterday is really lovely with its Japanese touches. If you compare it to the last poster advertising mandarin oranges, it’s obvious which one is more appropriate as a public advertisement.

Many of those who prefer the new poster especially liked it in comparison to the old one, but had many good things to say about it as a standalone piece as well as a collaboration with Love Live!:

“It doesn’t feel indecent at all and has a very refreshing look to it.”
“With this poster nobody will be offended, and this way it will appeal to lots of ordinary people. I’m also glad that it shows that Chika looks good with this kind of beauty, plus it’s really cute, so I’m really happy.”
“All of us otaku are used to seeing the same Chika-chan all the time, so actually, I think this new poster is refreshingly nice. (I think it would especially appeal to female fans.) But I don’t think this poster will gather much interest in
Love Live!. But it’s a really popular show, so I think it’s fine if it doesn’t.”
“People who know it will recognize her as Chika-chan, and those who don’t will still think it’s a lovely poster!”

But most Love Live! fans hated the new poster, with the biggest complaint being that it doesn’t really represent Chika or the Love Live! franchise at all.

“The appropriate poster is the one on the right [referring to the tweet of the two posters compared above]. You can’t tell the one on the left is a collaboration with Love Live! The only indication is the small logo. This doesn’t do much to advertise Love Live!, and the fans won’t like it. The point of the collaboration is ruined. Ordinary people should shut up about it.”
“Thanks to the complaining of all the stupid feminists, Chika became this weird character that doesn’t preserve the style of
Love Live!. Although I guess this isn’t that bad.”
“I’m a 
Love Live! fan. I’d want a copy of the poster on the right for my house, but I don’t want the one on the left. If you think the one on the left is better, then there’s no point in doing the collaboration! Did you watch the anime? Have you been to the voice actors’ concert?”
“The composition is really nice…but I would have preferred to see a little more of the original design in it.”

▼ The characters in Love Live! Sunshine have been drawn in kimonos before, after all.

It’s a fair complaint to make; since the poster does feature a Love Live! character, one might expect it to follow the art style of the anime and be a bit more instantly recognizable as a Love Live! collaboration. But wouldn’t fans also be happy to see Chika represented in a different art style as well? After all, everyone loves fan art, and nobody minded when a Twitter user reimagined Love Live! characters in the style of 80s anime. Could it be that what Love Live! fans really hated about this poster was, in fact, that they didn’t get to see a lewd image of a high school anime girl’s crotch?

We’ll never know. On a personal (non Love Live! fan) level, I think the new ad is gorgeous, but I do agree that maybe a stronger sense of the anime would be better. Perhaps the next poster to come out will have a better mix of decency and Love Live! flair?

Source: Twitter/@joytamachan via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/@joytamachan
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