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Shima City’s 'ama' girl mascot faces backlash from shellfish divers

28 Comments
By KK Miller

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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28 Comments
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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.

Ok, but it's the women who are the actual divers themselves that should have a say in the process. I give them credit for standing up against these blatant sexualization of their profession.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Why do they see the need to oversexualize this?

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Because there is an inherent need here to either infantilise or sexualise - or do both simultaneously - absolutely everything.

13 ( +20 / -7 )

Never really understood the need to have mascots for every single thing under the sun. Are there no other ideas for how to get tourists / tourist money? That is to goal right? Attract tourists?

Seems to me the only reason to use anime girls with huge breasts is to attract a specific niche crowd....many who don't travel anyway.

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.

Gotta disagree; Mie (near Mikimoto Island) has pearl diving and a semi-famous aquarium. So, why not otter? Otters like shellfish, and I'm sure they have 'em at the aquarium. People love cute animals, after all. (and you can sell plushies of it... good luck selling plushie anime girls in bulk)

4 ( +6 / -2 )

That character should be topless since traditional divers also went topless.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

frank said it all. Where did you get that info?

They should make the cute anime girl with the slit skirt into a stamp. Lots of men would get off on that, although they do not traditionally lick stamps here, it could make it into a new trend.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I think that this is very appropriate. I love diving for shellfish

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There's literally nothing wrong with sexualizing things. Feminists = Social Conservatives on this issue.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

IllyasAUG. 13, 2015 - 01:33PM JST There's literally nothing wrong with sexualizing things. Feminists = Social Conservatives on this issue.

That's not really an honest portrayal of the situation. These aren't feminists and they aren't complaining about "things" being sexualized. These are some people who do the job that the town markets itself for complaining about how they are represented. And while I don't know that I entirely agree with them, they have a right to have a say in how they are portrayed without foreigners trying to shoe-horn in their own personal political prejudices into the discussion. From what I hear about shellfish diving, it's a trade that is incredibly difficult, with divers holding their breath regularly at the extreme ends of human endurance and continuing it even when they reach an elderly age. I think this Megu character is pretty tame by anime sexualization standards, but we all have to admit, it is pretty insulting to just ignore how tough these women are and try and represent them with some frail-looking but perky character whose main appeal seem to be how her costume is almost revealing.

That's not "feminism" trying to take away "sexualization". That's people who happen to be women asking to be treated with basic human dignity. We don't have to agree with them, but they shouldn't threaten us so much we have to lie about them unless we have some issues to hide.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The character is pleasing and not over-the-top. Silly how much people complain. A little sexuality is a good thing... a pity so many people want to smother the world in a cloak of elevator-music-brown mediocrity.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Please inform me about how that mascot is sexualized in any way. The skirt isn't short and women do have a funny thing called breasts.

I'd understand if the character looked like something from out of High School DxD. But she isn't!

0 ( +6 / -6 )

The ama are the ones being represented, so their opinions count the most. Let the ama vote - if they're for or against it - then go with that. It's up to them, not anybody else's business.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I've watched the Ama dive, but I also found their hometowns to be more expensive to visit compared to other places in Japan. A mascot like this wouldn't encourage me to return as much as more competitive hotels.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They could have at least shown some sensitivity and asked the female divers beforehand for their opinion on how they would be portrayed. That was just shellfish of them not to do so.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yubaru: "Ok, but it's the women who are the actual divers themselves that should have a say in the process."

They HAVE had a say, and are 100% against it.

KariHaruka: It's typical hentai crap is what it is, and definitely sexualized -- the large bust and, yes, short skirt, and no doubt if she could talk would do so in a high voice, pant, squeal, and get red cheeks as her panties showed when some young highschool boy rounded the corner. It's the typical child-porn stuff that graces Japanese shops next to the ice cream freezers or the ATM and that old men with no girlfriends or who's wives have sworn off sex buy and which, definitely, help do what these women fear -- make Japan a laughing stock.

Or tell us, Haruka... does she look like the women in the picture in the middle above? Not... one... bit!

And Japan and its mascots for EVERYTHING is another reason why people who know anything about Japan can't stop laughing (not in a good way). It's unnecessary, and in many cases a complete waste of money and resources!

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

So change the mascot to a oba san. Smith it is the image of a young girl and it is peoples dirty minds that equate it to sex.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Sweet jesus! Could that top be any tighter and the skirt any higher!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sand and other hysterical people it is not even close to child porn. I think she is cute and it is only peoples minds that make it "dirty".

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I wish that their mascot was more reflective of the divers. Make it a cute little obaachan without FF cup boobs and a realistically cut diving dress. I think they could still have a cute mascot without it looking like another big busted, shot skirt wearing frail framed manga girl.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It seems the easiest solution is to put a story behind the illustrations. Give Megu a grandmother who is a shellfish diver. Make Megu the grand-daughter from Tokyo who decided to come back to her ancestral home to learn about shellfish diving.

In most of the promotional material, put both of them together. Megu with her grandmother teaching her to dive, pointing out different kinds of shellshish, eating together on the beach, etc. Now you're not just promoting your town, you're promoting inter-generational family bonds, youth mentorship, and the idea that young people can be interested in these dying traditional trades. When you want an illustration that accurately depicts the divers, you have it in the grandmother. When you want an illustration that the clueless boys can use as a pin-up, you have it in the grand-daughter. But most importantly, you're not just promoting your town as a place with a tourist gimmick, you're promoting your town as a place where real people have real lives and relate to one another.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't see that there's any real need to get so worked up about it. If people are only interested in the industry because of a mascot, then they're not really worth dealing with. For the people who actually care about shellfish diving, they're not going to pay any attention to a 2D drawing. Hell, most people these days don't know the mascot for McDonalds. And as for Burger King.... wait, does Burger King even have a mascot? I don't remember. But that's exactly my point! The mascot isn't important, so making a fuss about it is just as pointless.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's like circus clowns denouncing Ronald McDonald!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So change the mascot to a oba san.

Then they will complain about age discrimination. Best thing is to change to a cute and furry shellfish, nobody complains about the animal mascots.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How come no is complaining or noticing the long flowing hair that would get into the way of finding shellfish underwater? The ama have that covered.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think she is crap. I agree with women who dislike her. Poor art style, typical moe.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The image of the mascot for "ama" is bad because you are not going to be pearl diving in a dress. =You need some sort of swimsuit.

@frank07 That character should be topless since traditional divers also went topless.

Ever since Fosco Mariani's "Hekura" (the Island of the Fisherwomen) the ama have been very picky of the image they want to portray. -And there were many clones of this book that came later.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the mascot is already very popular so it likely will stay

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"The real-life divers were concerned that the character shows only the appeal of a young woman’s body"

Old bags feel insecure about a young girl with better assets. Naturally they're going to want her gone, then.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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