”You’re a (chibi) wizard, Harry.”
With a constant stream of domestically produced fantasy-themed anime and video games, Japan doesn’t have a whole lot of room in its heart for foreign examples of the genre. One very big exception, though, is the Harry Potter series.
With its storylines dealing with studying, exams, and club activities, the trappings of the Harry Potter books and movies aren’t all that different from an anime set in a special school for magically gifted students, one of the more popular recurring settings in Japanese animation. And driving home just how easy it is to imagine Harry and his cohorts as anime characters, there’s a just-launched line of Japan-exclusive anime-style Harry Potter merchandise.
This isn’t dojinshi artwork that someone is selling at Comiket while the franchise’s rights holders turn a blind eye, either. The products are officially licensed by Warner Bros., marking the first time the company has granted permission for super deformed versions of its movie characters to be produced in Japan.
The first pieces of merchandise to go on sale will be 12 plastic files featuring the anime-fied cast, with character art gracing the front and the Harry Potter logo, plus the seals of Hogwarts’ student houses, on the back.
▼ Leading man Harry
▼ Happy couple Hermione and Ron
▼ Classic tsundere Snape and his boss Dumbledore
▼ Friendless (at least among the set of SD Harry Potter characters) Malfoy
▼ Order of the Phoenix members/occasional guest stars Sirius and Remus
▼ Twins Fred and George, who share a file, and father-of-Harry James, who for some reason isn’t accompanied by wife Lily
▼ And finally, just when you thought things couldn’t get any cuter, Buckbeak the Hippogriff and Hedwig the Owl, who look ready to team up with Pikachu and the rest of the Pokémon
Each of the files sells for 378 yen (US$3.15). They’ll be available at anime specialty stores nationwide, such as Animate, and can also be ordered right now from online retailers Movic and Froovie (here and here).
This spring, the line will be expanded to include pins, rubber straps, and acrylic keychains, with prices between 300 and 700 yen. Currently, the same 13 characters are scheduled to be represented, but if demand is strong enough, maybe we’ll see more members of the Harry Potter cast make their SD debut, such as Cho, Cedrc, and what would no doubt be an adorably moe Voldemort.