Strike Witches fans are aghast at the news that anime studio AIC has been turned into the subsidiary of a pachinko company.
AIC (Anime International Company), in 2010 responsible for Strike Witches 2, Asobi ni Ikuyo and Amagami amongst others, and previously responsible for scores more titles, including many classics, was founded some 30 years ago and has come to be known as an major industry player.
Thus it has come as a surprise for fans to learn that the company has been completely bought up and turned into a 100% owned subsidiary of Oizumi Corporation, a company hitherto best known for producing pachinko and slot machines.
For those unfamiliar with it, pachinko is essentially a type of slot machine played with small ball bearings in hellishly noisy parlours which can be found near any station of size in Japan. Cash winnings are technically illegal but exploitation of a legal loophole and sympathetic police ensure they are in fact the norm.
Of all the quasi-legal enterprises of Japan, pachinko enjoys the shadiest reputation, just (barely) above that of soap-lands and brothels – their patrons are regarded as gambling lowlifes, and their (almost entirely Korean) management are known to have extensive connections to organised crime and the North Korean government.
The machines themselves are widely known to be rigged, using sophisticated software to manipulate payouts. Police bribery deflects attention from all but the worst improprieties.
However, a major component of their marketing is anime tie-ins and their own anime-styled characters such as Rio – thus it is little surprise to see speculation that Strike Witches and company may soon be finding their way onto pachinko machines.
One fan sums up the feelings of the majority – “It’s like all the girls in Strike Witches just became prostitutes.”