You can give your ride a stealthy otaku makeover without spending a single cent…but the results could be very temporary or very permanent.

Unlike posters or clear files, you can’t just pop into a specialty shop and buy mass-produced giant decals of your favorite anime character that fit the size and shape of your car’s body panels. Because of that, creating an itasha (anime art car) usually involves dealing with custom-order graphic design and auto detailing shops, making it a pretty expensive way to show your otaku passion.

However, Japanese Twitter user @sanakithir6 recently turned his Daihatsu Copen two-seater into an itasha honoring anime idol Aikatsu’s Ichigo Hoshimiya, and he did it without spending a single yen.

▼ @sanakithir6’s Copen, with Ichigo gracing the passenger-side door.

At first glance, the monochrome rendering of his beloved idol looks like it might have been done with reflective tape. But the truth is that in adding a picture of Ichigo to his car @sanakithir6 didn’t have to put anything at all on the sheet metal, but instead had to take something off, as he drew the entire picture in the dirt and dust that was stuck to his car after a long period with no wash.

“I don’t have any money, so I drew this with my finger,” tweeted @sanakithir6 with the photos, which have had online commenters saying:

“You’re a genious.”
“Such talent.”
“Wait, since you couldn’t ‘erase’ anything you drew, that means you did this all on the first try? Amazing!”
“Better park it in the garage so the dirt doesn’t get dirty.”

However, some foresaw a bittersweet future for the Ichigo Copen.

“When you wash your car, she’ll disappear. It’s kind of like latte art.”
“It hurts my heart to think this all be washed away the next time you wash your car.”
“It’s a limited-time itasha.”

The next wash might not mean goodbye, though. Remember, @sanakithir6 drew the picture by rubbing his fingertip through dirt that was stuck to the door, which is just the sort of thing that can leave permanent scratches in a car’s metal. A few people pointed this out to the talented, budget-strapped anime /motoring enthusiast, but in his mind, that’d actually be kind of a plus, as he responded with:

“I won’t know if this left scratches or not until after I wash the car, but she’s my favorite character, so even if there are permanent scratches, I won’t really be that bothered.”

That said, it’s probably only best to utilize @sanakithir6’s technique if you’re not concerned about your car’s resale value, and if you do think you might be selling it somewhere down the line, maybe an itasha rental is the best way to dip your toes in this sector of otakuism.

Source: Twitter/@sanakithir6 via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Wikipedia/Zevu
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he really, really misses his Mazda.