For a couple of days, I hadn’t had time to access the usual animu & mango boards I frequent to for some reason and another so I was quite curious when I first learned about the fiasco involving Silver Link, mainly the staffs of Kokoro Connect, and a B-grade seiyuu (or just call it VA for short) named Mitsushiro Ichiki. Of course I feel obligated to give summary of what happened to those of you have been living under the rock like me. First, yes, the dinosaurs are extinct already so we’re safe to go out now and second, this is probably the best (worst?) possible matchup of your typical ‘PR stunts gone bad’ with typical ‘internet hate machine’ we know and love. Basically this, Silver Link’s PR team for some reason or another decided to pull a prank on a not-so-famous VA named Mitsushiro Ichiki. It’s something they consider funny and believe would boost their rating  but definitely will not bite them back in the ass. So with all their wisdom and total lack of ass insurance, about two months ago in June, slightly before the airing of the TV series, they offered Ichiki an audition for a role as an anime original character. For this, they prepared rough sketch of what supposed to be the ‘character design’ of said character complete with dialogue lines for Ichiki to read (mainly contains embarrassing lines fitting this kind of juvenile prank). They also didn’t forget to tape the whole thing because COMEDY. They also taped more correspondents with him and further details like how he treated his mom for dinner for this joyous occation because HILLARITY. Then they invited Ichiki to a live event, featuring several VAs from the series, to introduce him to NicoNico audience only to tell him that SPOILER: It was all staged all along! Lulz were had among them as they played back all the records and in the end they offered him the job to drive around Japan promoting the anime. There are also stories on how they said that he’s too talentless for the project and should be janitor instead but these are . Fast forward to couple days ago, as we were staying under the rock enjoying whatever detritus was available, Ichiki made a guest appearance in Tomokazu Sugita’s (Kyon, Gintoki, the guy who I wish would narrate my life along with the Wakamoto) radio show and told him the story (because the story was relatively obscure at that point) and Sugita himself was not amused. After that the internet RAGEs, boycotts were called, the other VA’s twitter are harassed, and everybody live happily ever after.
This whole incident made me to raise a question: WHAT THE HECK WERE THEY EVEN THINKING!? Before you ask, no, I don’t watch Kokoro Connect mainly because I automatically avoid series whose characters are designed by that K-On anime chara designer guy/gal but any sane people would see stunt like this as purely stupid or an utter waste of time. I’m not talking about whether people find it funny or cruel but really even those who laugh at the video will realize that this decision is stupid (apart from whether it’s right or wrong) once they learned the reason and motive. There’s a solid difference between a simple joke or prank and a cruel lie and this definitely falls on the latter. After all we’re talking about a person who for a long time (Ichiki is not a newcomer in VA business) has been waiting to land on what other can see as the next step in his career life. Imagine if your boss just granted you promotion and you received new office and responsibility. Imagine you kept doing it for several days and summoned to the board meeting only to have the revelation that it was all a lie in the first place and you’re back to your old job or worse demoted to a janitor. Still, I don’t want to touch much on the moral matter of this incident because I’m certain there are tough guys out there who find this joke to be funny and tasteful and they will defend it to kingdom come. Instead I just want to keep wondering what was in the mind of Silver Link to pull out a stunt that would taint their name.
If this kind of prank was pulled on extremely well-known VA, such as Tomokazu (either Sugita or Seki) or even THE WAKAMOTO HIMSELF everybody would just laugh along (followed with Wakamoto kicking their collective asses) however they should’ve realized picking a B-list person (who can be considered as ‘weak’ in this case) can cause the underdog situation and we all know the masses love to root for the underdog.
I’ve also heard how many TV shows have done similar prank but this and that are different. In fact Japan is definitely not foreign to the concept of pranks in the style of Candid Camera or Punk’d. Many of variety entertainment shows on their television are built on the amusement the audiences feel from watching somebody (comically) being abused. However they are same skin yet different content with this case. Those other TV shows were planned by people whose jobs were to pull prank on other people. If you hate it and end up suing them, nobody would even care because that’s the problem with only the two of you. However this is done by an anime studio whose main job is making anime. Whose entire business supported by what the fans think and we all know most hardcore anime fans (especially those who watch late night shows such as Kokoro Connect) are very volatile emotionally. There’s also the consideration this series is aimed towards people who are not interested in it because the girls act as if they show normal and healthy interest towards males. They should realize that real-life bullying like this will hit the berserk button on them.
There are plenty PR stunts out there from the viral kind to downright blatant and annoying kind. I’m sure they will gain less hate if they just instead hijack other company’s PR stunt. At this point, the only logical explanation seems to be just because they’re jerks and want to laugh their asses off because every educated PR staff can definitely see this stunt will not contribute much to whatever they’re planning. There’s also the stupidity of making the stunt available to the public. If they only pulled the stunt among their inner circle, the result would still be bad but can at least be controlled but noooo they just want FORCED DRAMA and must let it be seen by the masses.
But what baffles me the most is how the other VAs join into the humiliation without sense of guilt and common sense at all. How in the hell not one of them ever think that ‘hey, guys, maybe this whole idea is just, you know, stupid’. Maybe those who don’t participate are the smart ones but still the participants must add fuel to the fire by tweeting their sadistic feelings to the public. I don’t blame them if they have those thoughts because there’s this thing we love to call schadenfreude and I won’t blame if they automatically find the prank laughable in the first place. But after all the laughter died down and the cheers stopped, has none of them ever thought that the whole prank might be too much? Hell no! They must tweet on how they enjoy every seconds of it and even badmouth the guy. Yes, I’m looking at you Terashima and Eufonius! Whether you want to be a jerk is not my business but the disgusting part is how you take pride in being a jerk and shout it to the people as if it’s something to brag about. If there’s one thing worse that being evil is that being stupid and whatever they do right now is purely unadulterated stupidity juice!
In the end, I still don’t understand anything about their reason. I don’t have anything to do with Kokoro Connect so I’m not wishing any harm to anybody involved (after all Silver Link is supposed to give us Prisma Illya anime later this year) but please for the sake of every intelligent life out there, stop ruining yourself! For Ichiki, I hope he gets well and regains his trust on the industry. As for the whole Japan, please fix your sense of humor so this kind of bullshit won’t ever happen again.
Here’s the video of the prank if you need a healthy dose of RAGE: