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“errr… am I lacking in something ?”
Imaichi-tan, better known as Lacking-in-Moe-Girl (Japanese: いまいち萌えない娘, “Imaichi Moenai Ko”), is a nickname given to a mascot girl in a job-placement advert by Kobe Shimbun, a Japanese local newspaper in Hyogo Prefecture. In contrast to her nickname, she has been a popular moe mascot for promoting the regional developments since 2011.
Between December 29th, 2010 and January 14th, 2011, Kobe Shimbun posted a job-placement ad of part-time news reporters/web editors for covering otaku media on the web site, which was conducted as a part of emergency job creation plans by the prefectural government. In this quite earnest ad, it gave one unique question about a blue-eyed and blue-haired girl wearing a blue sailor-suit: “Give 3 reasons why this character on the right figure is not so cute (lacking in moe).” The question continues “If you could answer this question easily, you have a chance to bring out knowledge and experience of your hobbies in Kobe Shimbun.”
On January 14th, 2011, this unique job-placement ad attracted lots of attention by a Japanese online news site ITmedia, and triggered heated discussions like “What lacks from her looks?” and “How can we improve her into a perfect moe girl?” on several online communities such as 2channel. Throughout this online craze, this girl with no name became to be called as “Lacking-in-Moe-Girl”, and occasionally “Imaichi-san” (いまいちさん), “Imai China” (今井知菜), a pun for a Japanese term meaning of “not-so-good” (いまいちな, Imaichina), or “A Character on the Right Side” (右のキャラクター, Migi no Character).
Lacking-in-Moe-Girl had earned over 1 thousand fan/parody illustrations on pixiv and Nico Nico Seiga as well as featured in many Vocaloid songs and a Miku Miku Dance videos on niconico Douga in its first week. Many of those videos are reprinted to YouTube as usual. And outside of Japan, Lacking-in-Moe-Girl is known as “Imaichi-tan” since English otaku blog Sankaku Complex introduced her with this name.
In response to unexpected popularity of Lacking-in-Moe-Girl, Kobe Shimbun published a page expressing gratitude to applicants on January 19th. The newspaper also answered questions from Nico Nico News, a news section in niconico, on this page. They received this situation positively and wanted people to enjoy the creations freely.
Q1 : Please tell us the reasons why you posted such that job-placement ad and recruited a person for 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 the newspaper employed 2 people in this job-placement.
“Q: How many people did you employ?” / “2.”
Feedback to the Official Merchandise
Kobe Shimbun quickly started communicating with the fans and following up their creations on the Twitter account for Lacking-in-Moe-Girl launched on January 19th. 5 days after, the newspaper released official detail settings of her to assist her fanfics by internet users (Shown below).
In the following month, the official announced the releases of Lacking-in-Moe-Girl goods one after another, which profits were donated to the foundation for high school students who missed their parents in Great Hanshin earthquake, 1995. Then, the official web site for Lacking-in-Moe-Girl and her Facebook fan page were launched on March 7th and April 4th.
Since then, Lacking-in-Moe-Girl has been flourished in charity and non-profit activities for promoting the regional developments on many medias such as TV, radio, manga and browser games.
The 2nd Ad
In the end of August 2011, Kobe Shimbun again posted a job-placement ad for the same job starring Lacking-in-Moe-Girl. 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”.
Since the official guideline for Lacking-in-Moe-Girl fanfiction prohibits her use for profit purpose or in anything offensive to public order and morals, there is no porn illustration for her.
Left: “Love & Joy” | Right: El shaddai
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