Last November, a quiet little town in Mie Prefecture asked locals to name their newest anime mascot character, a cute shellfish diver that represented the industry the town of Shima was famous for. The name with the most votes was Aoshima Megu and thus Shima City had its brand new, super popular city mascot.
End of story, right? No quite. Unfortunately for the city, concerned citizens are now publicly airing their issues with the 2D mascot, and the criticism is originating from the women on whom the mascot is based – the female freediving experts themselves (photo below left).
A 65-year-old sea diver and her 35-year-old daughter are strongly against using the new character to represent the city and the divers, and have petitioned the city to remove the mascot. Their concern apparently lies with the presentation and the imagery of the mascot, citing the position of her open skirt and the fact that the outline of her breasts is very easy to see (photo below right). The real-life divers were concerned that the character shows only the appeal of a young woman’s body and they don’t want this overly sexualized caricature to represent their city or their profession.
Megu is not without her fans, however; her Facebook page and Twitter account have many followers, and roughly 15,000 sets of stickers for the chat program LINE based on the character were purchased within the first two weeks of their availability. Support for the character also exists among city residents as surveys indicate many young respondents are happy with the look, calling her, of course, “cute.”
Opinion is also divided within the 250-member community of shellfish divers. While many support the petition, some believe that since the character is fictional, it would be a waste of time to debate over it. City officials believe that there is no need to repeal a mascot which has already been officially recognized by the city, but are willing to listen to suggestions and make changes to the design if necessary.
Is the mascot character a poor representation of the shell-diving profession? Or is a city mascot not worth getting all riled up about? While a mascot should be an advertisement for the city and its people, you’re probably not going to find one that everyone is 100 percent happy with, after all.
Source: Itai News
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