Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Kawaii Army or Identity Crisis?

Seen here in this 2012 photo are American built AH-1S Cobra Helicopters of Japan's 4th Anti-Tank Helicopter Squadron based at Kisarazu Chiba painted with colorful Anime characters. When we first came across an article written in the New Yorker about Japan's Cute Army we were like なんだいよ!?! For a moment we thought the SDF must be going through some identity crisis as the article erroneously suggested until we found another article that better explains this photo. As it turns out, this was part of a promotion marking the 20th anniversary of the squadron's founding in March 27th, 1992. The characters were the result of the "Dousenaru Pro ni Design wo Tanomou” project. There are four of these squadron "mascots" known as the Four Sisters of Kisarazu. They are Kisarazu Akane (the eldest, First Lieutenant)Kisarazu Aoi (second, Second Lieutenant) Kisarazu Wakana (third, Leading Private) Kisarazu Yuzu (youngest). These Cobras participated in festivals and military air shows until 2014. While there are female pilots, none resemble or dress like the characters due to SDF regulations. Despite it's popularity with the masses, the Cobras eventually returned to their normal camouflage to resume operations.

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