Contrary to it’s dark and dramatic tone, the community that surrounds Made in Abyss isn’t exactly serious. Rather, they’re always up for some slightly inappropriate jokes and memes, which is clearly feeding into publisher Takeshobo’s official goods at this year’s Summer Comiket 96 – which includes a Made in Abyss t-shirt adorned with the face of series creator Tsukushi Akihito.
Even before this t-shirt was announced, Tsukushi Akihito was already a bit of a meme. While determining why something or someone becomes a meme is difficult, to say the least, I’d wager that Akihito’s meme quality comes mainly from his typical otaku appearance, complete with glasses and a receding hairline.
Laughing at Akihito doesn’t come from a place of ridicule, but rather one of love, as many people see themselves (myself included) in his appearance as well as his behavior, as he constantly courts controversy with his risque depiction of underage characters in his Made in Abyss manga.
In any case, fans love Tsukushi Akihito almost as much as they love Made in Abyss itself – especially western fans, no doubt in small part due to the numerous overseas appearances that he’s put in since the Made in Abyss blew up, going to Germany in 2018 and then to Italy this year, 2019. I suppose that’s why Takeshobo feels confident enough to sell a Tsukishi Akihito t-shirt in the first place.
Not that they’re entirely confident about the t-shirt, mind – after all, it is called the ‘Hard to hand over Tsukushi-sensei self-portrait image t-shirt,’ with the design coming from a self-portrait that Tsukushi often uses for convention and other public appearances.
Perhaps this t-shirt is ‘hard to hand over’ because Tsukishi himself was against it, or because Takeshobo sees how ridiculous it is – I suppose we’ll never know.
Regardless, the official Made in Abyss Tsukushi Akihito t-shirt will launch alongside more normal merch at Takeshobo’s booth at this year’s Summer Comiket 96, including a new Bondrewd shirt, a Nanachi blanket, and a pass case with Lyza’s immortal words ‘I’ll be waiting at the bottom of the Abyss.’
Even so, the Tsukushi Akihito t-shirt is definitely the stand-out product of the bunch and fits very nicely into the tongue-in-cheek theme of Takeshobo’s previously announced goods, including a slightly inappropriate Sanrio collaboration. Memes are clearly one powerful tool in the hands of a tuned-in publisher.