Japan has been very successful at drawing in fans worldwide with the likes of Sailor Moon, Pokémon, Dragon Ball and more, be it through the anime and manga series, trading cards, or video games (or all of the above). While not as successful on the international market, PreCure has definitely made huge waves among elementary school girls in recent years, but now a new contender is making its way into the spotlight.
Publisher Takara Tomy has released a new arcade game and related animated series last year entitled PriPara, which is short for Prism Paradise, and it seems to be the next big thing to seize the minds of little girls all over Japan (and subsequently the money of their parents).
PriPara shares many similarities with Bandai’s Aikatsu, an arcade collectible card game with TV series spinoff, which was released two years prior. Despite coming late to the game, PriPara has still successfully managed to capture the imaginations of elementary school girls nationwide with all of its magical pink and sparkly cuteness.
The storyline revolves around fifth-grader Laala Manaka as she discovers a lost PriTicket, which allows her into the PriPara world. There, aspiring idols take part in performances and auditions of song, dance and fashion, and supposedly when the time is right, every girl will magically receive a PriTicket which will allow them a chance in that idol paradise. Because every little girl’s dream is to become fashionable singing and dancing sensation, right?
But woe is Laala, whose terrible, ultra-strict principal forbids grade-schoolers from entering the PriPara world as she believes students should be more focused on – heaven forbid – their studies! Laala does manage to get into PriPara, however, where she makes her idol debut.
▼Due to its popularity, you’ll often find a line of girls waiting their turn
So once young girls are hooked onto the sparkly cuteness of the anime series, they’re primed and ready to move onto the arcade game. Only 100 yen per play (about US$1) may not seem like a lot, but once it starts, it doesn’t stop. Each time you play you can raise your character’s idol ranking and get special fashion items for your character too – what better way to get the kids hooked? You can watch your hard-earned money get eaten up one coin at a time.
▼You won’t get anywhere without your PriTicket!
In order to play the arcade game, you need to have a “PriTicket”, just like in the anime. The ticket is divided, the top half being a “friend ticket” and the bottom half “my ticket”. The tickets detach, allowing them to be traded with friends, and trade they do. The manufacturers must have caught on to trading crazes of yore, like POGs and Pokémon… Kindergarteners to elementary-aged girls can be found gleefully exchanging PriTickets with their friends.
▼Anything but the PriPara cardholders just won’t do
And it doesn’t stop there. The PriPara anime itself may be free to watch, but then there’s the game and the cards that come with it. What to do with all those cards, other than store them in collectible card holders? Of course you’ll need to get the cute, specially made PriPara ones. Oh, and while you’re at it, why not all the other PriPara goods like the PriPass game, and the upcoming movie, and the second season starting this April and… Will it ever end?
▼Just in case you didn’t have enough pink and bling- the PriPass game
When writer and mother Yayoi over at our Japanese sister site Pouch asked her five-year-old daughter what was so great about PriPara, her girl responded, “Everything’s so sparkly and cute!” The kawaii obsession starts early, it seems!
Having been sucked into a few of the popular fads in my day, I get the draw and appeal franchises like this has for young kids. I remember my parents hauling me and my siblings around on hunts for hot items, forking out money for the next video games, pre-ordering movie tickets so we could get those special limited-edition trading cards… I’m also at the age now where I can appreciate my parents for putting up with and occasionally allowing me to indulge in those silly obsessions. But for the sake of parents now, I also hope that PriPara mania doesn’t last long!