An American itasha: Toyota Deku

If you’re in the southeastern United States, you might pass a colourful 2011 Toyota Corolla. If you’re a fan of Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia, chances are you’ve seen this car – either in person or perhaps online. This is Toyota Deku, an itasha dedicated to the hero-in-training Izuku Midoriya from My Hero Academia.

Toyota Deku parked outside Funimation’s office in Flower Mound, Texas.

An itasha is a vehicle that is decorated with images from an anime, manga or video game, usually limited to a specific character (but not always). Many cars are wrapped with images of female characters (known as bishojo), and bright elements from their series or games. Originating in Japan, itasha (which translates into “painful car”) are starting to make appearances in North America, and surprisingly enough, there is a large group of itasha in the southern United States.

Tony Okumura, owner of Toyota Deku, is a huge fan of My Hero Academia, and it shows. The hood is decked out with an image of Shoto Todoroki, Izuku Midoriya, Katsuki Bakugo, and pro hero All Might. On the sides, there’s a huge graphic of Deku mid-punch shouting “Plus Ultra!”, the motto of UA High School. The details are numerous – the rain guards on the windows feature Deku’s mumbling – ブツ. The rails below the doors include Tony’s name and background – A US citizen of Mexican heritage. Right down to the wheels, which are adorned with decals of Deku’s iconic red boots, and the words “Midoriya” and “Plus Ultra” on the tires themselves.

Toyota Deku parked at the Mississippi Visitors’ Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Owning an itasha isn’t cheap; many itasha drivers put a lot of work and care into their vehicles, not to mention designing the wrap and installing them cost a pretty penny. So far, Tony has spent approximately $2,500 USD on the wrap. Toyota Deku isn’t complete yet, as the roof still needs to be covered, along with additional physical improvements to the car itself. Sponsorship is rare, as most costs are paid out of pocket and any logos included in the design are to give credit back to the creators, publishers, and licensees of the series, rather than a form of endorsement or acknowledgement.

Editor’s Note: Nephrus is a financial sponsor of Toyota Deku.

The design itself was done 100% by Tony. The whole car was drawn in Adobe Illustrator using vector art; vector graphics scale much better than a raster image (there’s no pixelation if you look closely). Once the design was finalized, Tony worked with a local graphics shop, CGS Vinyl, to print and perform the installation. Wrapping began with the hood and progressing along the sides and rear as money became available. The roof design is done, but has yet to be printed and installed.

Justin Briner’s autograph adorns the hood.

Initial reactions to such a vibrant vehicle might sound incredulous or even disparaging, however, that’s not the case. Passing motorists will sometimes match the speed to snap a picture, roll down their windows and wave, or honk their horns. Even when parked at a gas station or other venue, small crowds gather for photos or give props; one fan actually stopped in the middle of an empty intersection in New Orleans to snap a few pictures with their cellphone. So the response to itasha isn’t always negative.

The interior in full display mode at San Japan, in San Antonio, Texas.

Toyota Deku has logged many a mile, travelling south to Matamoros, Mexico, and north to Washington, DC, with all places in between from his home base of Birmingham, Alabama. Recently, Tony made an appearance at San Japan, in San Antonio, Texas. So if you see Tony and Toyota Deku, be sure to give them a wave. Plus Ultra!

You can follow Toyota Deku on Instagram.

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