It’s one thing to cosplay a member of the U.S. military on Halloween or at comic-cons. But it’s something else entirely for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to disguise themselves as fans of anime.
However, this past weekend at Anime NYC in Manhattan — a convention that bills itself as a “showcase of the best of Japanese pop culture in the biggest city in America” — soldiers and Marines did just that.
Why, you might ask?
It turns out that they are partners of the show, which ran Nov. 17-19. Their goal is, of course, recruitment.
While the Army kept their booth low-key, the Marines — in typical fashion — rolled out a “Battle Dome” and challenged passersby to test their mettle on a pullup bar.
While a pop culture convention might seem like the last place you’d find representatives of some of the oldest institutions in America, the events can be prime spots to meet American youth — especially as most of the military services struggle to meet their annual recruiting quotas.
One Reddit user pointed out that the show’s captive audience of Japanophiles makes it a perfect place to find people willing to move to military installations on the other side of the world.
“Bruh just have a big ass sign that says, ‘Will pay you to live in Japan,’ and send their asses off to Oki,” wrote user SuperglotticMan.
And Anime NYC attendees are already well-versed in the hallmarks of life in uniform: Dressing up, spending long hours hoofing heavy gear, and accessing information that’s off-limits to the American public (in the form of TV and movie trailers) — all things that troops do … technically.
According to Anime News Network, the FBI was also in attendance. However, its booth was not given an exhibitor list description, and the ever-mysterious “government men” were not available for comment.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.