Being the biggest anime retailer in Japan means having to please all of the many different subgroups that Japanese animation aficionados fall into. So while one day mega-store Animate might cater to old-school fans by letting them slap 90s basketball saga Slam Dunk’s coach in the neck, they also have to do something for fans of more modern series too.
Stepping up to the challenge is Animate’s Yokohama branch, where lovers of high school swimming story Free! can now photograph themselves handcuffed to shark-toothed pretty-boy Rin.
In contrast to Slam Dunk’s portly Coach Anzai, Rin Matsuoka has a much more toned physique, as you’d expect from a capable and dedicated competitive swimmer.
▼ Pictured: Lots of ab work, zero dental.
The main reason for Free!’s popularity isn’t its gripping storyline focused on youth athletics, however. Rather, the key to its success is the frequency with which it delivers on its implied promise of scenes where its male characters, in the course of participating in swim meets, strip off their shirts, get wet by jumping in the pool, and proceed to try to physically dominate one another.
The currently airing second season of the anime seems to be increasingly dropping any thin pretexts in favor of showing more thin boys, and its ending animation frequently features Rin dressed up as a hard-bodied police officer.
▼ To serve and pelvic thrust
Now, to the delight of Rin’s many female admirers, the Yokohama Animate has stationed a cardboard cutout of Officer Shark Teeth in the store, complete with “handcuffs” so that they can be bound to their anime crush before snapping a commemorative picture.
Technically, it’s a plastic chain, but the retailer isn’t in the mood to shatter anyone’s fantasy, instead making frequent use of the word “handcuffs” in the attached sign, which begins with the statement, “We understand that many of you want to be arrested by Rin.”
Visitors are encouraged to cuff themselves, or ask a salesperson for assistance if necessary. The animate staff will also be happy to snap pictures for you, and the sign makes reference to an Iwatobi-chan mask that’s available for those who can’t resist the tempting offer, but are too embarrassed to have their face showing in the photographic evidence of the bit of kinky fun.
▼ Iwatobi-chan, the disturbing Rockhopper penguin mascot of the in-anime Iwatobi High swim club.
Fittingly, no purchase is necessary to pose with Rin. In other words, it’s free!