Before the epidemic, the Japanese designer who created Olympic Paralympic figures predicted that she would become the “face of the Games”.
It didn’t quite turn out that way. These two mascots are ubiquitous in Olympic merchandise being sold around Tokyo As the games unfold. But in a country where mascots play a major role in corporate branding and marketing, their presence has often been poor at the very event for which they were made.
The Japanese public is not pissed off either, according to fans and experts who study the country’s mascot industry. The mascot’s social media profiles are modest, and a common complaint is that their names – Miraitowa and Someity – are hard to remember.
Miraitowa is the Olympic mascot, and Someity represents the Paralympic Games, in which it is scheduled to take place Tokyo From August 24 to September 5.
“Amid the whirlwind of all the Olympic controversy, I think the mascots have been forgotten somewhere along the way,” said Yuki Fuka, 46, as she strolled the Olympic stadium with her daughter on the weekend. “Games are just getting started and their very existence is already an afterthought.”
Every Olympics since 1972 has had an official mascot, but Miraitowa and Sumiti are competing in a crowded domestic field because Japan already has thousands of Weird clumsy creatures, known as yuru-chara, which was created to promote their country.
Perhaps the most famous mascot in Japan is the Kumamon, a cuddly bear from Kumamoto Prefecture that helped popularize the Euro Chara phenomenon about a decade ago. the The most miserable is Shiitan for sure, an unauthorized “Baby Fairy” amulet from the once city of Susaki Suspended from Twitter for his violent behavior.
As of Tuesday, the Olympic and Paralympic mascots had about 15,000 followers on Instagram among themselves, a small fraction of the nearly 900,000 people from Chiitan. Miraitowa has only posted 70 times on the platform in two years.
Are Miraitowa and Someity hated or hated? Absolutely. They were a little, well, disappointing.
They seem to be functional. “They seem to be doing a good job,” said Gillian Ray Sutter, a professor of informatics at Shizuoka University, southwest of Tokyo, who has studied Japanese amulets. “But there doesn’t seem to be much passion.” them.”
Amulets, first Appear in public Three classes ago, they were shortlisted by primary school students from all over Japan and Named by the jury of the Olympic Organizing Committee. Chris Carlier, a Tokyo-based British writer and illustrator who runs Mondo Mascots, website And Twitter feed About yuru-chara, Miraitowa and Someity said maybe they were popular with kids who associated their looks with it. Pokemon characters.
The name Miraitowa is a combination of the words “future” and “immortality”. Someity’s is a variation of the name of a common type of cherry tree, A source of charm and happiness In Japan for centuries, he played on the English phrase “very great”.
Checkered mascot pattern makes them look like they are walking racing flags. Their designer, Ryo Taniguchi, For Kyodo News Agency In 2018, this style was a nod to the style that was popular during the Edo period in Japan, which lasted from the 17th to the 19th century.
“I think the characters, just like the logos, will become the face of the games, the gatekeepers,” he told Kyodo.
Since the games kicked off last week, Miraitowa has been posting on Instagram from Sports venues around Tokyo. Olympic medal winners also get miniature Miraitowas with their flower bouquets, the mascot has done قامت Accidental TV spot.
However, they are staying relatively low on such a gigantic global stage. On Tuesday, Professor Sutter said she had watched television coverage of the Games for days and only caught a glimpse of the mascot once – on a screen inside an Olympic stadium.
It is worth noting that Miraitowa and Someity did not have a large presence in the opening ceremony On Friday, it prompted one social media user, Suekichiii, to tweet what has become a widely popular photo showing plastic copies of amulets watching the opening ceremony from home. Suikichi later told Japanese news outlet Madonna that the painting was designed to arouse sympathy for them.
Mr Carlier, of Mondo Mascots, said he initially felt Miraitowa and Someity were too skinny and athletic-looking to compete in the role of yuru-chara, given that Japanese mascots tend to be clumsy and “heavy”. He said that he eventually loved them, but still did not consider them unforgettable.
He added that this may be because their names “don’t quite roll,” or because their checkered logo tends to blend into the background of Olympic stadiums designed in identical style.
Or maybe they weren’t so lucky to be representing the current Olympics Held during a pandemic, with few spectators.
“I don’t think most people blame the characters,” said Mr. Carlier. “I feel sorry for them for their fate.”
It is unclear how the mascot’s performance could affect sales of official merchandise. A Tokyo Olympics spokesperson told Kyodo in 2018 that the licensing of mascots and other “Olympic emblems” was expected to generate the equivalent of $126 million in revenue.
Games spokeswoman Tokoko Otsu said last week that the estimates had not changed. It added that data from sales of official merchandise for the Tokyo Olympics, including “mascot-related products,” was not yet available.
Hiroyuki Nakamura, who was shopping at an Olympics gift shop in Tokyo over the weekend, said he and his 10-year-old daughter took a bleak look at the official mascot and had no plans to purchase mascot-related items.
“For us parents, it’s hard to keep up with the names of all the different amulets that are constantly appearing,” he said. “But don’t these two names have a special difficulty in remembering them?”