A gender-bending Nazi video game dubbed Mein Waifu Is the Fuhrer has been making waves on Kickstarter, raising over $50,000 in donations in three weeks and generating backlash on “the extreme ends of the political spectrum,” its creator says.
The Kickstarter project—which has already reached 649 percent of its funding goal with over a week to go—involves male Nazi leaders turning into female anime characters. In the interactive “parody visual novel,” players have a choice of dating one of five notorious war criminals, including Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Herman Goering, Joseph Goebbels, and Rudolf Hess.
But these anime characters don’t resemble the infamous Nazi leaders you’ve seen in history books—they’re all designed as big-eyed, young-looking women. Their height and weight stats are helpfully listed alongside their images.
“The entire German high command is turned into anime characters on the eve of WWII, shenanigans ensue,” the game’s description reads.
“Instead of leading a simple invasion of Poland, [German General Erwin] Rommel is stuck trying to prevent the world from descending into utter chaos as the Anime-Führer runs Germany into the ground at every turn, blundering at everything from military strategy to diplomacy.”
“Make friends (mostly enemies) at the most pivotal moments in history, from the Battle of Stalingrad to the Invasion of Normandy,” the Kickstarter page adds. “With five potential Waifus, you’re guaranteed to have fun on multiple playthroughs as you try to prevent the inevitable shenanigans that ensue.”
Donors who pledge $20 or more to the project will have their names listed as a “Party Member” in the credits of the game. Donors who pledge over $250 will get that and a body pillow featuring one of the characters. Those who pledge $500 or more are placed on the “Fuhrer Tier” and get to become characters in the game, where they can choose which Nazi mass murderer they want to date.
The game’s editor, a self-described World War II buff who identified himself to The Daily Beast as Michael, runs DEVGRU-P, a gaming-creation company that previously made a game about navigating a North Korean dictatorship with “two cute soldiers.” He declined to give his last name for fear of retribution.
“We’ve gotten a lot of backlash from people on the extreme ends of the political spectrum,” Michael, 26, told The Daily Beast. “The far right because we mock Hitler and the far left because it normalizes Hitler.” (On the Kickstarter page, Michael’s biography says he is “romantically interested in Rudolf Hess.”)
The $50,000 in donations was much more than Michael anticipated. “I think the game struck a nerve,” he wrote.
When asked if he was comfortable knowing that some of his game’s backers are likely white nationalists and anti-Semites, Michael said it gives him a “mixed feeling.”
A member of Kickstarter’s communications team told The Daily Beast that the game does not violate the company’s rules because it’s a “parody” project.
“We tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the person who is trying to make something new—even if what they’re making is not something we would endorse or find to be entertaining,” David Gallagher, director of communications at Kickstarter, wrote in an email.
There’s an odd connection between anime and Nazis. They show up often enough in this style of Japanese animation that there are lists ranking people’s favorite anime Nazis. Enough people dressed up for anime conventions in Nazi uniforms that in 2019, Anime NYC banned cosplays of “fictitious Nazis or Nazi-like organizations.”
Anime has also been accused of having a fascism problem. Journalist David Neiwart said that the alt-right began with “people talking online about Japanese anime.” Nazis on Twitter often have anime avatars. In fact, anime avatars often serve as a form of identification within the alt-right. And on the swamp of 4chan, anime fandom and alt-right politics are often posted side by side.
“Honestly, it feels a bit uncomfortable right now to think I’ll be romancing Hess-chan while in-universe the genocide is ongoing,” one donor wrote in the game’s Kickstarter comment section. “But truth is, I’ll probably just be laughing my ass off at the absurd situations,” they added.