Most anime series have loads of merchandise featuring images of the main characters or logos and replicas of items used in those series. There’s a lot of apparel from some of the more popular series; Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Bleach, to name a few. Among the t-shirts, hats and hoodies are the elusive pairs of shoes. While Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! have sneakers tailored towards younger kids, UK based T.U.K. made skate shoes for Fullmetal Alchemist and Bleach along with Fullmetal Alchemist slip-ons. Nike and Bandai teamed up as well to create a limited edition pair of runners based on Naruto for the Japanese youth market.
Fullmetal Alchemist Skate Shoes
Fullmetal Alchemist fans got their wish when T.U.K. released a pair of stylish red and black skate sneakers in 2005. The sides and tongue featured a red transmutation circle, the same one Edward Elric used during his state exam, with a red flamel stitched into the heel counter. Inside, the insole had a tag stitched in with the Fullmetal Alchemist and T.U.K logos. The upper portion of the shoe was constructed of man-made materials, with the sole made of rubber. A red outline encircled the edge of the sole with the T.U.K. logo imprinted in the middle near the foot arch. Since these were skate shoes, the treads on the sole were designed to grip to a skateboard fairly easily.
Each pair came with both red and black laces and arrived in a box featuring artwork of Edward and Alphonse along with various transmutation circles and the flamel. Fans could pick up a pair at Hot Topic, however, these are no longer being produced but do make the odd appearance on eBay.
Fullmetal Alchemist Slip-ons
In 2006, Fullmetal fans would be rewarded again when T.U.K. issued a follow up to their popular skate shoes. The slip-ons followed the same red and black colour scheme and had a large red flamel embroidered onto the top and again on the heel. The sole was not as glamorous as the skate shoes since they came with plain gum-coloured treads. As before, these slip-ons could be picked up at Hot Topic, but are now no longer in production. A few do make appearances on eBay or in independent online anime stores.
Nike Air Rival GT
Footwear manufacturer Nike worked with Japanese toy maker Bandai to create a pair of shoes for the ninja in all of us. The Air Rival GT were coloured orange, black and charcoal with a man-made material and mesh upper and rubber sole. Along with the iconic orange swoosh, a red spiral from the back of Naruto’s jacket is located on side near the heel and a Leaf Village emblem is on the toe cap. The shoes arrived in an elegant box featuring a stylized rendition of the name NARUTO with the A being replaced with the ninja hero in a jutsu pose and surrounded by assorted Leaf Village tags. A limited number of these shoes were produced and only available by entering a contest through Weekly Shonen Jump or by lining up at select Nike stores. These shoes come in youth sizes from size 4 to 7 and were only attainable in Japan. A couple pairs have popped up on eBay and in independent online anime stores, but be prepared to spend over $100 on them as they are a rarity.
Bleach Skate Shoes
T.U.K. returned to the anime sneaker scene in 2007 when they joined forces with manga distributor Viz Media to create a pair similar to the Fullmetal Alchemist sneakers. The outcome was the Bleach skate shoe using the exact same structure as the Fullmetal footwear (see above), but with a different design and colourway. The shoes were manufactured out of black and white leather with a rubber sole; the heel and part of the toe cap were black and the upper was white with a shinigami skull pattern and a blue and red fabric stripe. The insole was made of black fabric and was imprinted with a printed Bleach logo. The sole used the same tread, outlined in white, but with shinigami emblem replacing the T.U.K. logo under the arch of the foot. The shoes arrived in a plain red and black striped box with a T.U.K. logo. Included with the shoes were two pairs of laces; one black and the other white along with a Bleach sticker. Sadly, only 360 of these would be made available and were sold only through Viz Media’s online store. The sneakers sold out very quickly.
Naruto Akatsuki Slip-ons
Brand: Wiesner Products
In April 2008, Viz Media held a poll for Naruto fans to select their favourite design for a pair of slip-ons. There were four styles to choose from, and in July, a winner was selected — the familiar red cloud Akatsuki design.
Viz Media partnered up with Wiesner Products this time to create the fan picked Akatsuki slip-ons. The slip-ons were black canvas with red clouds emblazoned on the top and sported an anti-Leaf Village logo tag near the heel counter. The red insoles displayed a black and white Naruto logo while the outer soles were made of rubber with white trim and a gum-coloured waffle grip. These are no longer available through Viz Media’s online store after changing service providers in mid-2009.
Brand: Achilles Corporation Japan
One of the most popular series of all-times, Neon Genesis Evangelion, inspired a pair of sneakers. Based on the Evangelion unit 01 piloted by Shinji Ikari, these futuristic kicks were styled like the mecha’s feet and matched the same colours. The shoes were constructed out of rubber with a breathable mesh upper and hidden fasteners to prevent them from slipping off. The EVA1 logo appeared on the side of each pair. The soles didn’t appear to have much of a tread pattern having gone for an aesthetic design instead, replicating the bottom of the Evangelion unit’s feet.
These shoes were released only in Japan and in three sizes: small (SCRH-10), medium (SCRH-11) and large (SCRH-12). The Evangelion Supernova01 shoes are very hard to find and are a collectors item. Pairs occasionally do appear on eBay and other auction sites, but expect to shell out at least a couple hundred dollars on a pair.
Let’s hope that we see more anime-themed sneakers on the market. There is a demand for them and a few fans have even designed their own pairs using Nike Air Force Ones and Converse All Stars. Maybe we’ll see some designs from Gurren Lagann or D.Gray-man in store one day.