29 April, 2012

Cartoon character mascots in Japan

It seems that any respectable business in Japan has a cartoon character. Our bank does. The Japanese Red Cross does. The new Tokyo Skytree does. TV channels, Life Insurance, Japan Railway, Pharmaceutical companies, you name it. Yes, even the Tokyo Metropolitan Police have a cute mascot! One Car Insurance company has a koala as their mascot, see the video here.

This is an interactive video at the Science Centre that 
I visited on Thursday with the Grade 3 from CAJ.It is 
about a very complex physics experiment being conducted 
in Japan. But you can see that they've cute-ified
it using a cartoon character.
Here is a site where you can see a list of what some people voted as the top thirty cutest corporate mascots. Here's another site just devoted to Japanese mascots.

This is a distinct Japanese cultural feature. I cannot imagine the police department in Australia having a cute mascot! It seems that whenever possible Japanese will "manga-fy" anything. I remember back in March/April last year when they put out cartoons explaining the nuclear situation, featuring a character called Nuclear boy. It just seems bizarre from an Australian point of view. But this IS the land of the cute. 

Mind you, maybe Thailand is similar because late last year I saw cartoons involving cartoon whales (see here) that helped educate residents about the flood situation.

Wikipedia has an interesting article on Japan's kawaii (literally cute or adorable) culture here.

This explains something of the craziness that we saw at Tokyo Disneyland last year. The adults who were so "cute", crazy about all the Disney characters, in a way that you just don't see in the land I come from.

I'm afraid it just isn't me. I stand very much on the sideline, slightly bemused.

1 comment:

KarenKTeachCamb said...

I confess, I'm still a sucker for anything "Winnie-the-Pooh", and many things "teddy bear". Fortunately as a primary school teacher I can indulge somewhat without people thinking I'm totally crazy.