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“errr… am I lacking in something ?”
lacking-in-moe-girl (Japanese : いまいち萌えない娘, “Imaichi Moenai Ko”), also known as Imaichi-tan on Westerners’ web, is the girl who is anything but lacking in Moe. She appeared on a job-placement ad of Kobe newspaper which is a local press on Hyogo prefecture, Japan in the end of December 2010. She is sometimes called her other nicknames such as China Imai (Japanese : 今井 知菜, “Imai China”) or The character on the right side (Japanese : 右のキャラクター, “Migi no Character”) in Japan.
Background : Moe
“Moe” is the word usually expressing someone’s deep interest/addiction/praising to characters mainly in Japanese Otaku culture. But, the definition of this word is very ambiguous and is hard to describe because the sense of Moe depends on each person’s taste and it is quite different from person to person. Because of this, Moe is used so much by everyone in every way and has become the word representing this culture.
The job-placement ad
From December 29th, 2010 to January 14th, 2011, Kobe Newspaper posted an job-placement ad of part-time news reporters/web editors on their web site. Their recruitment was unique. They wanted a member specializing in Otaku media such as Anime, Manga, Game etc… They gave one strange question in this ad.
The question was : “Give 3 reasons why this character on the right figure is not so cute (lacking in moe).”
There was a girl being a little bit like Miku Hatsune with blue-eye, blue-hair and sailor-suit. And of course, her looks was obviously far from moe.
The question continued : “If you could answer this easily, you have a chance to bring out knowledge and experience of your hobbies in Kobe newspaper.”
To make the question more strange, it was a quite earnest job-placement conducted as a part of emergency job creation plan by Hyogo Prefecture.
Around January 14th, 2011, this strange but earnest job-placment ad was found by some 2channel users and was picked up by several blogs. By this, many Japanese internet users noticed this difficult question and started to try answering it just for fun. They also sparked heated debate : “What lacks from her looking?” , “How can we improve her to moe girl?”
This question and the no-name girl on the figure immediately went viral. Then, she was named “lacking-in-moe-girl” by them and became new moe icon and a popular subject of video parodies and image tributes on the Japanese web.
Her fanfics started to be made around January 15th. In especially, pixiv, a Japanese social network service for illustrators, was inspired by her so much. Many pixiv users copied her and posted it to there. Some of them also tried refining her to perfect-moe-girl by their skill. In the result, over 2000 images were posted to there. Pixiv encyclpedia, an internet encyclopedia in Pixiv, says they scored over 2.2 million page views in total within its first month.
On the Japanese video sharing service Nico Nico Douga (NND), her modeling data of MikuMikuDance was made immediately and was named “China Imai”. China’s modeling is never refined by design. NND users love her “anything but lacking in moe” style. Therefore, she is sometimes treated in comical style in their videos. Over 70 videos related to her were posted to NND. Some of them were reproduced to YouTube.
Soon after she went viral, several online news sites reported her phenomenon on the web. Among them, Nico Nico news, a news section in Nico Nico douga, sent questions to Kobe newspaper. They answered this on their web page in January 19th, 2011.
Q1 : Why did you post such that job-placement ad ? Please tell me why you recruit a person specializing in Otaku media by an emergency job creation plan.
A1 : We just posted a job-placement ad simply and had no other idea. For our purpose, we had to reach out for attention from targets and needed them to get interested in us.
Q3 : How many applicants did you get ? Who were them (age/sex, etc…)?
A3 : We can’t answer this in detail. We got 4 or 5 times more applicants than usual. But net news covered our ad on closing date for application. So we think they didn’t influence to pool of applicants so much.
Q5 : What was popular answer? Was there any unique answer? And what is the right answer you think ?
A5 : To be honest, though it became a chance to display applicant’s originality, this question was nothing but a advertising copy. We’ve never thought to set this question as official exam. So we have no right answer. Some people answered this question in their entry sheet. We didn’t include this in matter for examination because it wasn’t a essential requirement.
Although we think people have common view of the definition of “Moe” on some level, we came as a fresh reminder that its details quite differ from one person to another.
Q7-1 : Who did created her design?
A7-1 : Our internal staff.
In January 31st, midnight Otaku TV program “MAG NET” reported her phenomenon. In this report, it was revealed that 2 people were employed by this job-placement.
“Q : Was anyone employed ?” / “2 people were.”
Appeal Outside of Japan
Soon after Japanese news pages reported her phenomenon, Sankaku Complex followed this. On there, she was nicknamed “Imaichi-tan”. However, there are few works of her by westerners. It seems that her phenomenon doesn’t influence to overseas and is a regional fad only in Japan.
Response by Kobe Newspaper
In the answer to Nico Nico news, Kobe newspaper also said that they positively received her unexpected popularity and wanted internet users to make and enjoy her fanfics freely. In January 19th, Kobe newspaper launched her twitter account to communicate with her fans and started following up fanfics on her twitter and their web page. In January 24th, they released official detail setting of her to assist her fanfics by internet users.
In February 2011, releasing her official goods were announced one after another. It was also announced that their profits were donated to the foundation for high school students who missed their parents in Great Hanshin earthquake, 1995.
Her official web site was launched on March 10th. In this page, Kobe newspaper released official guideline of her fanfics prohibiting reusing her for a profit and in anything offensive to public order and morals. This guideline is supported by most internet users. Therefore, her mature illustrations are not so many. On April 4th, she had her fan page on Facebook.
Now, though she is still lacking in moe, she is flourished in charity and non-profit activities on many medias such as TV, manga and browser games.
The second ad
In the end of August 2011, Kobe newspaper posted a job-placement ad for the same job starring Imaichi-tan again. Though her look was a bit improved, the question in this ad was “Check the character on the right side, and give 3 reasons why she is still lacking in moe”
They also added one annotation : “this question is not a recruitment exam”
Lacking-in-moe-girl (singing about her background comically.)
I’m lacking in somithing (singing about her distress for her lacking something.)
LOVE & JOY
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Sankaku Complex – Imaichi-tan Anything But Lacking in Moe… | Sankaku Complex / 01-27-2011
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