Japan’s biggest anime specialty shop chain warns that not following this advice could turn Christmas into a day of tears.

With just a couple of days left until December 25, parents are scrambling to finish shopping for their kids’ Christmas gifts. In Japan, naturally, a lot of those kids are hardcore anime fans, and their parents are no doubt thankful for Animate, a chain of specialty stores that carries a full array of merchandise oriented towards otaku, fujoshi, and other subsets of anime/game enthusiasts.

However, while the store’s extensive inventory can make it a very convenient place for one-stop shopping, a visit to Animate doesn’t guarantee a merry Christmas, and might actually end up doing more harm than good. To address this danger, Mr. Otani, the manager of Animate’s Yokohama branch, has taken the initiative to put out a public service message on Twitter, warning that if parents fail to heed his advice, it won’t be jingle bells they hear this Christmas, but the lamenting sobs of their heartbroken children.

Otani’s advice is:

“Moms and dads who are coming to Animate to do your Christmas shopping…this is the one thing you must remember:

If you don’t know who your kid’s favorite character is and buy them a different character’s merch instead, your kid will cry.”

Specifically, Otani says to make sure you know your kids’ oshi, a word which means a character, voice actor, or idol a fan has a crush on and/or is rooting for to succeed.

With the biggest current anime hits owing their success to the popularity of their characters, it’s nowhere close to a given that a fan’s favorite character will be the protagonist. Add in that the most successful shows often get that way by having especially large casts so that the largest number of viewers can find a character to identify with or latch onto, and the odds are stacked against parents picking out a figure, plushie, or other piece of character merch at random and hoping their kid will like it just by nature of being a fan of the series.

With the tweet having earned over 63,000 likes, a lot of Twitter users can see the logic in Otani’s advice, leaving comments like:

“Knowing your kid’s oshi is extremely important.”
“It’s a good idea to take a picture of the character on your phone, so you can show it to the store staff and won’t risk misremembering the name.”
“A while back, my mom said ‘They were selling clear files of that anime you like at the convenience store, so I bought some.’ When I asked ‘Which anime?’ she said ‘Love Live’…, but I’m actually an Idolmaster fan.”
“I still remember when I asked for an SH Figuarts figure, but I got an RKF instead.”
“Whew! I’m glad I’m an otaku too, so I never get confused about who my kid’s oshi is.”

While oshi is usually used to refer to human or otherwise living characters, many mecha anime fans also chimed in to offer similar advice to non-otaku looking to buy model kits as Christmas gifts, so that they don’t commit a grave error like, say, getting them a Mobile Suit Gundam MS-06J Zaku II instead of a MS-06F Zaku II.

It’s also important to remember, though, that communication is a two-way street, and so otaku themselves need to communicate their preferences clearly. “I told my grandma I wanted a figure,” recalls one commenter who was hoping for an anime character figure, “so she gave me a traditional Japanese doll. But thanks, Granny!”

Thankfully, while Christmas gift preferences vary by person to person, Christmas dinner desires, at least in Japan, are pretty universal.

Source: Twitter/@animate_otani via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s still thankful for the Aura Battler Dunbine mecha figure his parents got him as a little kid (even though none of them knew what anime it was from).