A painful prefix: Ita-

Some of our readers may be familiar with the term itasha 痛車 (literally meaning "pain(ful) cars"), the term for cars with exteriors decorated with anime or game-related imagery. For example, as we have reported before, itasha were a part of the Mount Fuji Cosplay World Conference, and an officially approved LoveLive! Sunshine!! car was provided by a rental company in Numazu, the city where the anime is set.

photo by © grape Japan

Using the kanji 痛 for pain is both self-deprecating otaku humor in recognition of the fact that people outside their fandom may cringe, and a term of endearment for their handiwork. In fact, anything can potentially be converted by putting the prefix ita- before it, creating terms such as 痛バイク ita-baiku (motorcycles), 痛チャリ ita-chari (bicycles), ita-guitar 痛ギター (electric guitars), and of course, 痛部屋 ita-beya (otaku rooms, although they existed a long time before the ita- naming convention began)

Otamart's Ita-Bag Contest


Mainly but not exclusively popular with fujoshi 腐女子 (female fans of romantic relationships between male characters in light novels, manga and anime), ita-bags 痛バッグ personally decorated with stickers, pins, and other paraphernalia associated with anime or manga works are an increasingly common sight in Japan, especially in areas like Ikebukuro, Akihabara and Nakano in Tokyo and Nipponbashi in Osaka which have high concentration of otaku-related shops. The trend started at the turn of the decade but has picked up in the last few years, prompting accessory makers to sell handbags and book-bags with transparent vinyl windows, or completely transparent bags catering to ita-bag creators.

5th Contest Winners

In response to this trend, Otamart, a smartphone app-based P2P marketplace specializing in products related to otaku culture, created a contest to give ita-bag owners and designers a chance to show off their work and to increase awareness of this relatively new mode of creative expression.

For the 5th Ita-Bag Contest, 425 entrants submitted their works between March 13th and 31st, and 14 winners were announced by the Otamart Management Office (OMO below) overseeing the competition:

Grand Prize: 眠れない街 摩天狼 "The City That Never Sleeps -- Matenrou," by ミン党 Mintō

Inspired by rap group Matenrou's song "Shinjuku Style ~Don’t Make Me Laugh~" in the multimedia music project Hypnosis Mic, this ita-bag features Matenrou lead singer Jinguji Jakurai and member Kannonzaka Doppo, along with props symbolizing Shinjuku and its Kabukicho entertainment district.

OMO comment: "[The bag] has images of [the creator's] favorite characters and props associated with them arranged in a three-dimensional way, and it's outstandingly glitzy! What's more, turning the lights on really conveys the spirit of Matenrou to the fullest, which is wonderful! Congratulations on winner the Grand Prize!!"

Second Place: 桜月夜 "Sakura Moon Night" by バジルソース Basil Sauce

This beautifully designed ita-bag features images of Nakigitsune from multimedia project Touken Ranbu.

OMO comment: "This is a wonderful design which brings together sakura and the moon quite beautifully! Although it's simple, the moon expressed in button pins as well as the sakura pattern and sword crest which become visible when you turn on the light create a magical effect. I had the impression that this ita-bag truly embodies the spirit of Wa (Japanese essence)."

Good Design Award: 『推しの主演公演を持ち歩きたかった…』"I wanted to take my favorite character's performance along with me," by クリスティーヌになりたい人生だった I lived my life wishing I were Christine.

This dramatic ita-bag features Guy playing the titular role of Le Fantôme de l'Opéra (The Phantom of the Opera) in the smartphone game A3!

OMO comment: "This is truly terrific work which brilliantly gives full expression to the Winter Troupe's fourth performance of 'Phantom'! You almost get the illusion that you're seeing the action on stage! Apparently, the creator stitched all the decorations by hand, which makes this an excellent work full of love for this character."

Good Design Award: 『暗闇に輝くジョジョツリー』"Jojo Tree Shining in the Dark" by みなえ Minae

The second Good Design Award went to a fan of manga and anime Jojo's Bizarre Adventure with a very specific source of inspiration, a Christmas display:

OMO comment: "Apparently, the creator of this ita-bag was inspired by a 'Jojo'-themed Christmas tree and panel she saw at the Venus Fort shopping mall in Odaiba. The hand-made tree is crafted in painstaking detail, creating a remarkably faithful reproduction, and it's very beautiful! The ribbon on the side matches the mood of the bag, which is wonderful too."

Here's the original inspiration:

Other winners

Here are the other winning entries:

By - Ben K.