While other places in Japan usually promote the cute stuff from some anime, the town of Oarai in Ibaraki Prefecture has opted to adopt the cool stuff. The town held a festival on July 15 featuring events of different interests including animation, the Girls und Panzer in particular. Besides the anime itself, tanks have also been present during the festival attracting a number of tourists.
‘To attract and increase visitors in town,’ such was the aim of the local government. Banking on the popularity of Girls und Panzer, also known for its portmanteau Garupan, things featured in the anime were seen during the Monday event last week. The anime is known for having high school girls from the fictitious school of Oarai Joshi Gakuen. They are also known for being taught with the fictional martial art called “senshado.” Though most martial arts use handy weapons, senshado opts for tanks as the main weapon.
The tanks present at the festival were from the country’s own Ground Self-Defense Forces, which was more than willing to cooperate. The GSDF, which is not as popular as the Air & Maritime divisions, also saw the event as an opportunity to promote itself. As for Oarai, it has now become the unofficial “Town of Tanks,” because of being the home of the anime series. According to Oarai Mayor Takaaki Kotani, “We wanted visitors to see a real tanks like those that appear in Garupan.”
The self-declared title has caused the town to welcome 32,000 visitors. According to the local government, the number is a five-fold increase of the previous year’s visitors. During the festival, some places and shops affiliated with the local chamber of commerce posted some of the characters in Girls und Panzer. The voice actors of the main characters in the series also visited the town and received a warm welcome.