You can’t talk about the currently airing anime Terra Formars, and the manga it’s based on, without touching on the designs for its humanoid cockroach antagonists. Almost everyone finds them unsettling, but that discomfort isn’t just being caused by their intimidatingly muscled physiques and blank stares. A vocal group of international anime fans also contend that they don’t so much resemble the sturdy six-legged bugs the series’ creator cites as their inspiration as much as racist caricatures of people of African heritage.
Japanese society tends to not be so reflective on the implications, whether intentional or not, that its domestically produced fiction carries when it trickles out to a global audience, though. The debate over whether or not Terra Formars’ art is insensitive or not is largely non-existent in Japan, where the aliens are taken at face value as fictional characters in a fictional setting. As such, fans feel no qualms wearing their love of the show on their sleeve, or, in the case of one cosplay enthusiast, on his bag, which is decked out with what look to be the severed heads of the divisive characters.
The Terra Formars anime has only been airing for a couple of months, but the manga has been around since 2011. The franchise now has enough content that it’s grabbed hold of Twitter user Qooga, who seems particularly enamored with the look of the cockroach aliens, who’re collectively called the Terrformars (all one word this time).
▼ First Attack on Titan’s Titans, now these guys. I guess we’ve entered the Pantless Age of anime and manga.
Qooga’s profile picture is of a self-made mask of one of the aliens, and he’s previously attended Comiket, Japan’s largest fan-oriented anime and manga event, while dressed in a full Terraformar bodysuit.
▼ Complete with sewn-on abs
空我 (@Qooga_13) November 21, 2014
空我 (@Qooga_13) September 26, 2014
Aside from showing off their costuming skills, the biggest reason people go to Comiket is for the shopping, since hundreds of talented amateur artists display and sell limited-run items that often can’t be purchased anywhere, or anytime, else. As such, superfans end up bogged down with purchases, so having a bag to stick your haul in is essential. But since wearing an ordinary backpack while dressed as a giant cockroach would just look silly, Qooga decided to make his own Terra Formars shoulder bag, musing on Twitter “Maybe I’ll attach some of the leftover heads” from his previous Terraformars cosplay efforts.
He wasn’t kidding.
空我 (@Qooga_13) December 06, 2014
Even Qooga seems a little weirded out by the finished product. “I’d heard that making an anime bag was a physical manifestation of your love for a series,” he commented, “but this seems more like I have some sort of grudge against it.”
Really, the only way the bag could be any creepier is if there were an equal number of heads inside.