Using Pop Culture Anime Cartoons, Japan Promotes Rifles in Youth Shooting Sport Before 2020 Olympics

posted on June 16, 2019

Voice actors for a Japanese animated (anime) cartoon series called the “Rifle Is Beautiful” are the new public relations ambassadors for the National Rifle Association of Japan.

The “Rifle Is Beautiful” is an anime cartoon video with four main girl characters who each have a rifle. It is based on a manga comic cartoon series of the same name. Both the anime and cartoons share the same storyline about a girl who is new to a high school. She hopes to join the school’s shooting club only to find out it has been shut down. So the girl embarks on a mission to revive the shooting club.

Anime and manga cartoon characters are part of a vibrant Japanese pop culture that has spread worldwide.

In announcing their role June 1 as PR ambassadors, the cast members said they became interested in shooting sports through their roles, according to the Anime News Network, which has been covering the “Rifle is Beautiful.” There is also a Twitter for the series.

One actress said: “It was very comfortable to be in a silent room where all you can hear is the sound of a gun. The gun is heavy and you have to concentrate, so it’s tiring both physically and mentally, but it was incredibly exhilarating at the same time. You have to experience it to know what it’s like.”

Some of the anime stars say that the practice lessons triggered an interest in shooting.

“It was through [Rifle is Beautiful] that I came to realize that [rifle sports] can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of age,” one actress said. “I think that more people will pick up an interest in the sport thanks to this work, just like I did.”

The young women also took shooting lessons with air rifles, which were publicized on the NRAJ’s YouTube channel. The cartoon series also has its own Twitter feed.

During the publicity announcement, NRAJ President Kiichiro Matsumaru posed with the actresses in their anime costumes. He said rifle sports are a niche sport in Japan because of its strict firearms laws. The photo above, courtesy of the Anime News Network, shows the actresses and Matsumaru.

According to the NRAJ’s website, there are some 10,000 people in Japan who are participating in shooting sports.

Japan has very strict firearms laws that make it difficult for a broad range of citizens to obtain the right to own and wield a gun. However, people who do obtain licenses from the police are permitted to hunt. People using indoor ranges frequently use laser beams or air guns for target practice. City governments often have their own shooting ranges for permitted citizens to use.

Japanese governments are using local pop culture cartoons to promote firearms to young people to generate interest in competitive shooting sports. City governments in Asaka, Niiza and Wazo are featuring specialized manga in their official newsletters to promote shooting sports to youth.

All three governments are sponsors of the Asaka Ground Self-Defense Force’s shooting range, which will be used as the venue for the 2020 Olympics. They hope to spur a new generation of competitive shooters as Japan gears up for the Olympic games.

The artist who created the manga was commissioned to create similar mangas for each local government to advertise the sport to young people.

The three city governments who sponsored the promotional manga series will feature it in newsletters until 2020 and run it on their website. They said they hope the series will showcases various practical aspects of shooting to educate citizens about the sport and spike new interest.


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