Last Thursday, Spanish international news agency EFE profiled Peruvian politicians Jorge Hugo Romero and Milagros Juárez because of their distinctive strategy to score the “otaku” vote: Cosplaying as anime characters.
Romero, who is a member of Peru’s Christian People’s Party (Partido Popular Cristiano, PPC), is known for dressing up as an Akatsuki member from the Naruto anime and manga series. He chose the Akatsuki because they are “renegade ninjas” who decide to organize against the corrupt forces that have caused destruction and war.
He told EFE that his “ninja path” was chosen eleven years ago when he began to serve in the PPC. “Before, I hated politics, until I realized that if I don’t participate in it, I would be letting the corrupt continue to make the decisions,” he recalled. Like other young people, he understood how it felt to be disengaged from politics, so he decided to reach out to them through a means they could relate to: anime.
He said that he wishes to create a “shinobi alliance” through the Andean Parliament. If elected to the parliament, he promises a law so that all university degrees are valid in the countries of the “alliance,” which consists of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.
Representing a more ethnocentric stance, Milagros Juárez, a candidate for the Union for Peru (Unión por el Perú, UPP) nationalist party, found fame on TikTok for her posts cosplaying as Evangelion character Asuka and singing the “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” opening theme song from the TV anime.
She claimed to be fed up with “proper” politicians who wear a suit and tie while perpetuating corruption. “They say they are serious because they dress smartly, but when they come to power, they steal and end up disappointing the population,” she said.
Juárez is campaigning on a controversial proposal to deport jobless foreigners who have committed crimes.
“We have no patience for those who continue to commit crimes and take away our peace of mind. I adopt the ‘otaku‘ aesthetic because it is my way of communicating things, but my message goes to the working classes, single mothers, and young people,” she concluded.
According to Benjamin Edwards, director of the Peruvian Marketing Society, the phenomenon is still somewhat unusual in Latin America, but politicians who make use of it are innovative and courageous. “Young people do not mock or laugh at them. They believe in them,” he said.
Chilean journalist-turned-lawmaker Pamela Jiles made international headlines in July last year when she performed a “Naruto run” through congress to celebrate the passage of a COVID-19 emergency aid measure in the lower house. She is a member of the Broad Front coalition of left-wing parties, which was founded in 2017. Her love of anime is a part of her platform, and she is affectionately known as the “Chilean Hokage.”