Anime and manga fans turn cars into heroic art


One of the best things about car culture is that there are so many different subgroups within it. Often these bands can bridge the gap between cars and something completely different. An example is the current Dekocar movement. Hailing from Japan, “Dekocar” is a portmanteau of “decorative” and “car”, if that wasn’t obvious. In Japanese it is called “Itasha”. The majority of Dekocar enthusiasts aren’t necessarily concerned with adding performance or wild body kits. In fact, many Dekocars are almost in stock under the whole dressing room, and there is nothing wrong with that.

The draw for Dekocar enthusiasts is to effectively transform their vehicle into an ongoing tribute to their favorite Japanese anime, manga, or video game. This usually involves having an elaborate custom vinyl wrap designed and placed on the vehicle. However, it can go much further, including decorating the interior and exterior with stickers, figurines, and even accessories that are all themed around the entertainment they were inspired by.

Just about any vehicle can be a Dekocar canvas. It’s not uncommon to see cars like the Toyota Prius or Subaru Impreza wagons completely decked out in anime-themed vinyl wraps.

The Dekocar movement has been growing in the United States for a few years now. Import Car Show patron Ken Miyoshi had the brilliant foresight to readjust his Import Car Showcase event, held during the Nisei Week festival, to focus specifically on Dekocars in order to make it a total celebration of Japanese pop culture.

Miyoshi made the choice to include Dekocars in 2018, and although the movement itself grew, attendance this year was low as the world is still recovering from a global pandemic. There were still some quality rides despite the low attendance.

Cars were on display themed around high-impact anime and manga properties such as demon slayer and even video games like Genshin Impact. However, there were still a few “traditional” Japanese show cars like the obligatory widebody Toyota GR86 and Mike G’s Urban Green, 5th generation Civic hatchback, pictured above with a softer exterior and more OEM+.

If you’re really into Japanese culture, anime, manga, or video games and don’t mind resisting a strong summer heat, we recommend you go to the Dekocar Nisei Week Showoff next year, likely to return to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. Admission is usually inexpensive (this year it was free) and a great way to learn about one of the many facets of car culture.

Check out our full gallery from this year’s Nisei Week here:

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