Japan’s Cute Offensive
Meet the official mascots of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces
Japan has gone completely mental for local mascots. Every city has one to their name, some have even more — many are forgettable and many are downright creepy. Companies and local governments across the country have looked to these “soft-image characters” to give them a PR boost.
Not one to miss out on a trick, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces have their own mascots as they ride on their post-disaster PR wave.
Meet Takuma-kun and Yuu-chan
These two adorable characters are members of the Ground Self-Defense Forces. Look how healthy yet normal the boy is, and how well the girl is doing for herself — it’s clear that they are designed to appeal to the modern recruit. They even have their own Twitter accounts!
Their names comes from the two key attributes of the GSDF: resolute (takumashii) and kind (yasashii/yuu).
When the pair debuted in a sliding panel game on the GSDF Website, the netizens of 2ch, Japan’s unruly and passionate forum of choice, cried out:
Why is it not a tank simulator or rifle-shooting game or something?!
Make a First Person Shooter, a realistic one!
I thought it would be something like America’s Army …
Unfortunately for these military otaku, Japan doesn’t do realistic when it comes to its public face — just look at the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s mascots!
Meet Oton, Okan and Maritai
Yep, that guy’s punch perm is a cannon, and the one on the right is a fish. I’m not really sure what’s up with that, either. Each character takes over the MSDF’s Twitter account on Fridays. Each week, sailors across Japan look forward to the traditional Friday serving of curry — it keeps them stimulated, perhaps a bit too much in this case.
Looking to bring some light-heartedness to the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, on June 10th, 2011,the MSDF official account tweeted:
Hmmm … government agency Twitter accounts are a little wooden, huh …
Today, maybe we can try and turn that around …
The Twitter avatar changed to the cannon-pompadoured Oton you see above and began answering other users’ tweets:
Q: @JMSDF_PAO has become a soft-image character …
A: If you think I’m soft, you’re in for a lot of pain …
Q: Nothing to do, huh?
A: I have loads to do! I’m only here for a short time, so what?
They have been a huge success for the most internationally-minded of the services, and despite Oton’s brash boyish abrasiveness, he became a firm favorite. As the characters have matured, they are increasingly being used to explain the MSDF’s mission to the civilian masses.
Meet Mamoru and Reina
Staff Sgt. Mamoru and Airman 1st Class Reina are the Air Self-Defense Force’s answer to the MSDF’s off-the-wall mascots. Down-to-earth and relateable, Mamoru (left) aspires to be Defense Minister and Reina (right) holds out hope to get married to someone rich and famous — wait, what?! Way to set a high bar, airman.
Yes, that’s right, while the GSDF went for a girl who is eager to hit the field, the ASDF has a ditzy bimbo fronting for it, a character who apparently joined the force at her ex-boyfriend’s suggestion. Mamoru — whose name means “protect” — isn’t much better: his profile states he signed up for “no particular reason.”
Well, so much for the most popular of the services — at least they can rest up on the laurels of the recent TV drama Public Affairs Office in the Sky.
I suppose it could be worse, look at the page for the Self-Defense Force Ehime Provincial Cooperation Office.