Basement-dwelling anime nerds may be the last demographic we'd want defending our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic, or embedded in the U.S. intelligence community thwarting terrorist threats. Nonetheless, this year, the U.S. Marine Corps and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were reportedly recruiting prospects at the annual Anime NYC convention.
Over the weekend, the elite fighting force considered the cream of the crop of the United States Armed Forces and the top-ranking U.S. intelligence agency both had "exhibition" booths inside New York City's anime-con, a showcase of Japanese pop culture, that lasted from Friday to Sunday. Additionally, the U.S. Army appeared as an "exhibitor." Yes, this was done unironically.
@nicolebrennan.draws what’s going on at #AnimeNYC 💀 #animecon #comiccon #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #fyp #anime #weeb #trending ♬ original sound - Beth Anne Brice
Ahead of the event, Anime NYC advertised the Marines making an appearance (Booth #373) as "a military partner," linking to an enlistment form for applicants to connect with a Marines recruiter. (The recruitment application on the official Marines website included the UTM code, "FY23ANIMECON," in order to track the social media campaign's performance across platforms.)
In the digital advertisement, anime lovers were invited to compete in the "Battle Dome" to test if they're fit enough to join the ranks of The Few, The Proud: "Perhaps you have the perseverance, will to win and indomitable fighting spirit we're looking for."
Anime NYC had to disable comments to assuage the deluge of criticism mocking the Marines for partnering with the anime expo.
🎖️ As a military partner at Anime NYC 2023, the United States Marine Corps invites you to see what drives Marines.— Anime NYC (@animenyc) November 8, 2023
🪖 Stop by Booth #373 to compete in our Battle Dome, and let’s talk about both what it takes to become a Marine!
LEARN MORE: https://t.co/KPpn6dSgMb pic.twitter.com/JhNUHnNUt4
Of the inflatable so-called "Battle Dome," meant to mimic a gladiatorial arena like Mad Max's Thunderdome, attendees participating in the exhibit's interactive elements were photographed attempting push-ups and pull-ups for the Marines.
But the Marines booth at AnimeNYC had a crowd and really had people engaging and doing pull ups. So, maybe it is beneficial for them to be there lmaoooo pic.twitter.com/r4AJpqcM47— Nyne (@nyne_tailed_fox) November 18, 2023
According to the exhibitor list, the Army (Booth #367) touted a 360-degree photobooth, oft-used at high school dances and wedding venues; a personalized dogtag-making station; and military "swag" to take home. "Join like-minded Army personnel who share a passion for anime and discover what the Army can offer you. With over 170 career paths, robust education benefits, and exciting job opportunities, the Army is a wide-open frontier to helping you Be All You Can Be!" reads the Anime NYC description.
Clicking on the event organizer's accompanying link launches the GoArmy career-matching site.
Differing from the flashiness of the Marines, the Army presented a simple set-up. A viral photograph of the display depicts a Neon Genesis Evangelion cosplayer striking a pose at the picture-taking part of the Army booth alongside some spectating soldiers.
Latest Images from Anime NYC convetion where a Misato Katsuragi cosplayer poses for US ARMY booth to encourage youngsters to join Marines.— Anime News And Facts (@AniNewsAndFacts) November 18, 2023
FBI was also there looking for potential employees. pic.twitter.com/m8MBCoClJE
As for the FBI (Booth #572), whose words are "Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity," the federal law-enforcement authority "secured" space on the exhibitor floor because the investigatory agency "recognize[s] the value" of anime fans as "an intelligent, forward-thinking, and creative community," according to what Anime NYC's portfolio vice president MK Goodwin told the Anime News Network (ANN), "the Internet's most trusted anime news source." However, the FBI did not respond to a request for comment.
@franklyn.mov Can’t make this stuff up! Y’all down that bad FBI?! #animenyc #nyc #fyp ♬ original sound - SpongeBob background music
Other vendors included Tentacle Kitty, Tickle Me Toys, the Yaoi Army, Waifu Bait, and Otaku Haven, LLC. ("Yaoi" is a form of hentai—cartoon Japanese pornography—featuring "boy love" a.k.a. a homoerotic romance between male characters. "Waifu" is a fictional female that a real-life man is sexually attracted to and delusionally regards as a romantic partner. "Otaku" is someone who is obsessed with a hobby such as anime, manga, video games, and tech gadgets to the detriment of his or her social skills.)
Critics from all sides questioned why the U.S. institutions were in attendance exhibiting at an anime-enthusiast conference.
Redditors belonging to the r/USMC subreddit dunked on the Marines seeing "f*cking weebs" as recruit material. Anime Corner called the spectacle at Manhattan's Javits Center "a bizarre crossover" that "absolutely nobody asked for." Regardless, recruitment numbers must really be hurting if America is adding anime-addicted geeks to the candidacy pool. Partaking in military-themed live action role-play (LARP) and adeptness at first-person shooter games do not translate to real-world combat.