The Idolmaster franchise is no stranger to strange (or at least, unexpected) collaborations, having already tag-teamed with New Japan Pro-Wrestling, for example, and partnered with Nissin on their Curry Meshi brand of instant curried rice. However, their latest collaboration may be the most unusual one yet!

This time, it's their mobile game The Idolmaster Million Live! Theater Days collaborating with Snickers but also eccentric horror manga artist Kazuo Umezu, in a campaign called アイドルを取り戻せ Aidoru wo torimodose, which can be loosely translated as "Take back the idols!"

The premise of the campaign is that the idols, presumably so busy with their concerts, lessons, and training that they often find it hard to take a break for proper nourishment, are suddenly overcome with pangs of hunger for that most delicious and energy-boosting of snacks, Snickers. Kazuo Umezu was tapped to characterize the girls' predicament, giving them his signature "terror-struck" look.

Often cited as an inspiration by Ito Junji and other horror manga creators, the 82-year-old manga artist, just as famous for his Waldo-like wardrobe as he is for horror classics such as Orochi and Hebi Shōjo, established the genre of 恐怖漫画 kyōfu manga or "terror manga." As such, he was eminently qualified for the part. (Umezu is also known for gag manga such as Makoto-chan, the protagonist of which likes to makes this hand sign.)

In the comparison image below, the first row shows Iku Nakatani (Twinkle Rhythm), Tsumugi Shiraishi (Escape), Fuuka Toyokawa (4 Luxury), Akane Nonohara (3 little candy), Matsuri Tokugawa (Charlotte - Charlotte), and Haruka Amami (765Pro All Stars) in "their usual form," while the second row shows the girls when they're "hungry and not in their usual form." On April 30th, other idols will be added (or will replace the current girls) in the campaign.

To restore the girls to their usual form, participants in the Twitter-based campaign need to follow the campaign's special Twitter account, buy one of two qualifying Snickers varieties (regular or bitter chocolate), take a photo of the front of the wrapper, and post it in a Tweet along with a hashtag for one of the six idols they want to vote for.

Every week, the idol who receives the most votes gets to return to her original form. Moreover, lucky participants chosen at random will receive special reply tweets from that idol, along with an image. They may even receive an image of the girls in their "Umezu" form:

The campaign video will give you an idea of what to expect:

Other things you can look forward is winning an original collaboration T-shirt (if you're selected by lottery) and enjoying special collaboration music videos from idol units.

To find out more, you can visit the campaign's website here.

Note: According to the terms and conditions posted on the the campaign page, a Japanese address is required to participate (perhaps to send the T-shirt) and "applications from outside Japan are not accepted." Although it is unclear how they intend enforcing that policy, our readers not residing in Japan may find themselves at a disadvantage.

By - Ben K.