“Anything, but as an anime girl” is something of a genre in Japan that is also very popular internationally. There are, for example, the browser games Kantai Collection and Azur Lane, in which warships from World War II appear in this form, or Maitetsu, where trains are concerned. In Uma Musume Pretty Derby by Cygames, a mobile phone game that, after its announcement in 2016, became a multimedia franchise with an accompanying manga and an anime before it was even released, everything revolves around horse racing. In the world of Uma Musume, racehorses are reborn as anime girls who then compete against each other. All that remains of the original shape are tails and ears.
As strange as the whole thing probably already seems, the really curious thing is that the names and attributes of the figures were taken from real, historical racehorses, whose owners have given their consent for the representation and also have a say from the outside. In the past, for example, the producers of Anime Fans called on fans to refrain from using fanart, as this could damage the reputation of the horses and their owners.
Horse racing is a seedy and very lucrative business all over the world, including Japan, which is why the game is controversial on the Internet. The gacha elements, i.e. lootbox-like transaction options, seem to be less of a focus than the real backgrounds and the connections between horse racing and the Japanese mafia yakuza. However, these micro-payments are mainly responsible for the success of Uma Musume. Although the game did not start until the end of February, it was already in the top 5 of the world’s top-selling mobile games in March, with revenues equivalent to over 136 million US dollars (~ 113.9 euros). It is currently unknown whether there will be a localized version for the European market.
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