Photo: YouTube/tsulunos

Episode of Gunma-chan anime deemed not suitable for children and shelved

By SoraNews24

Fans of Japanese regional mascots will undoubtedly be familiar with Gunma-chan, the representative character of Gunma Prefecture. A long-time front runner of the annual Yurukyara Grand Prix national ranking, this adorable little pony stands neck and neck with giants such as Kumamon and Funassyi.

In fact, in October Gunma-chan got its own weekly self-titled anime series that airs on several stations across Japan, including Gunma TV. 

The show follows the precocious pony and its friends as they explore the many wonders of Gunma Prefecture, by design seeing as Gunma Prefecture is the producer of the show. However, one episode that was scheduled to air on Dec 12 never saw the light of day on Gunma TV because it was deemed inappropriate for children.

The episode in question follows Gunma-chan to the boat races, which in Japan is one of the three big venues for legal betting, alongside horse and bicycle races. It is said to depict Gunma-chan with an older male horse called Ojisan who initially wins a lot of money on a race, but then gets carried away and loses so much that they can’t afford the train fare home. Then, after receiving a tip on the last race, he takes his remaining money and bets it, and wins. On the way home, Ojisan tells Gunma-chan to keep what happened on that day a secret.

▼ “What happens at the boat race, stays at the boat race” might make a good slogan for ads.

By this point, the Gunma-chan anime was already in the crosshairs of some upset viewers who had contacted Japan’s non-government Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization (BPO) to complain about a previous episode that aired last October which took place at a bicycle race track, after which a member of the BPO relayed the complaints to Gunma TV. However, it is unclear by what process Gunma TV came to the decision to not air the boat race episode. Also, while the Gunma-chan anime does occasionally feature real-world locations from within the prefecture, both the bicycle and boat racing venues depicted in the animation were fictitious.

Meanwhile, Gunma Prefecture’s fiery Gov Ichita Yamamoto took issue with the pulling of the episode in a recent press conference. Yamamoto made headlines recently by blasting the annual prefectural ranking, in which Gunma Prefecture frequently comes in near last place, and commissioning his own ranking to dispute the results.

“I was dumbfounded by their weak sensibility,” said Yamamoto about Gunma TV’s executives. “Maybe they’ve never seen anime. They’ve probably never seen 'Demon Slayer' or 'One Piece' and don’t have any idea about the trends in anime.”

The governor has a point in that standard anime situations make Gunma-chan’s outing quite tame in comparison. Heck, even "Uma Musume," an anime whose popularity has been reaching new heights this year, is inspired by real-life race horses and has resulted in a big boost in attendance at the tracks.

▼ The franchise’s popularity was boosted even higher by a top-downloaded game version.

On the other hand, among the many online comments regarding the news some seemed to think that the government of Gunma Prefecture themselves bear some of the responsibility for not keeping a tighter leash on their official mascot.

“I’m dumbfounded that an anime produced by Gunma Prefecture would feature gambling.”

“They should show it. It’s a good way to show kids how the world really works.”

“I don’t understand who thought it would be a good idea to take a prefectural mascot to a race track.”

“But they lose their money. How does that make kids want to gamble?”

“Don’t they always show commercials for boat races on TV? That seems much worse and doesn’t show a downside to it.”

“Capsule toy machines are a much worse gambling influence.”

It does seem that with all the gacha machines, trading card games, and loot boxes around, kids these days are pretty intimately accustomed to the ecstasy and agony of gambling. It’s hard to say without seeing the episode for all its nuances (namely how much Ojisan won on the last bet), but it seems that Gunma-chan presented the topic in a fairly balanced way, in that it is possible to win big, but you’re more likely to walk away empty-handed.

Then again, maybe that’s still too heavy a topic for Gunma-chan and best left to one of the less cutesy mascots like Chaozu-kun, the macho gyoza, or Zuuushiiihokkiii the malformed sushi.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Hidden Easter Egg in Akira shows animator’s hilarious passive-aggressive frustrations

-- How often do Japanese high school kids watch anime, and do boys and girls watch the same series?

-- Gunma Prefecture’s adorable mascot dances into our hearts and travel plans 【Video】

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Pulling an episode of a kids' show because it featured gambling? How hypocritical considering the obnoxiously loud pachinkp parlors everywhere with their glaring, flashing neon signs.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

As mentioned in the online comments of the article, the "gacha" mechanics so prevalent in online games to profit from the players is a much more dangerous influence that would attract them to gambling.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

it doesnt matter how sexy, cool, trendy , family-oriented they try to depict these silly gambling venues (quite annoying lately), it doesnt change the reality: just a place where old man in hats gather to drink, smoke, read the newspapers and waste their pension money, been there twice

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think kids are already gambling. Whether its buying a pack of Pokémon or baseball trading cards hoping for a rare or special insert, or just going to the game center and playing a coin game, its all the same. I think the biggest problem with the episode is that Gunma-chan won.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As mentioned in the online comments of the article, the "gacha" mechanics so prevalent in online games to profit from the players is a much more dangerous influence that would attract them to gambling.

not only in online games, as a big fan of Capcom, Nintendo, SNK etc. it what quite a disappointment coming to Japan and find out more than half of their game centers are occupied by gambling/pachinko-like machines, you have to search very well for “underground”-like retro game centers where you can find people actually having fun, dozens of people watching a single fight, groups teasing and battling each other just like home

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agree.

Gambling is bad, gacha is worse.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I agree with Kumagaijin. For the morality lesson - and too much Japanese TV is produced as a morality lesson for 12yo kids - the final bet had to be a losing one. Parents could leave their kids in front of the TV being advised not to gamble whilst they sneak out to the pachinko parlour, buying a lottery ticket on the way home.

Gambling is unwise. It is a problem if it becomes an addiction or if your spending on it impacts negatively on your life. But for the poorest, the sad truth is that a lottery ticket with zillion-to-one odds, is the closest they can get to an investment. They are buying hope. When you live hand-to-mouth, hope may be all you have to keep going for another day.

-Zuuushiiihokkiii the malformed sushi.

I read that and didn't even blink. Do I qualify for residency now?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I grew up watching South Park so I really have no morality issues or maybe just jaded. I never ever had an interest in Japanese anime and still don’t. I think I fell asleep when I was dragged to the theatre to watch Demon Slayer haha!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I guess the writers wrote what they knew about, the track. And ignored what they have no idea about, raising kids.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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