Mizuho Bank, one of largest banks in Japan, recently announced a new financial plan specifically geared towards otaku. The program will allow individuals to take out loans on anime Blu-ray releases as well as a limited amount of merchandise.
Anime in Japan is less available on streaming services compared to other countries; viewers are limited to either television broadcasts or physical releases, the latter often charging exorbitant prices.
“Anime merchandise such as figures, photobooks, and especially Blu-Rays can be extremely expensive, and considering many otaku fall under the NEET and hikikomori demographic, it is very financially taxing to have anime as a hobby,” explains Mizuho representative Koyama Kentaro.
The program is designed to make being an otaku more accessible, accommodating a broad range of financial situations. Depending on the credit history and income of the clients, they may be required to pledge all anime-related paraphernalia they own as collateral.
Koyama demonstrated a loan they offered to well-qualified buyers of the Blu-Ray box set for 2014 anime Gochuumon wa Usagi Desuka?, priced at 46,500 yen (about $417). With a down payment of as little as 3000 yen, the box set could be yours for 24 easy monthly payments of 2084 yen. Should a lendee default on their loan, the back will repossess the merchandise and sell it to Book Off. The lendee is also generally kidnapped and made to do hard labor.
“Under normal circumstances, it is illegal to hold someone hostage over debt; however, as otaku are hardly considered real people, the policy is considered fair game,” explains Koyama.
Some observers have criticized the bank for preying on the obsessive and consumer-driven tendencies of anime fans, but such claims have been dismissed as the lendee always has the option to engage in anime-style games of chance to earn back their freedom.