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Japan's Latest Mascot Not Very Enthusiastic About Promoting City

posted on by Eric Stimson
Matsubara introduces "Matsubara-kun"

Japan's many prefectures and cities have long resorted to using mascots to promote themselves and attract tourism. These so-called yuru-chara ("loose characters") have recently boomed in popularity, with some, like Kumamoto Prefecture's Kumamon and Funabashi's Funassyi, recognized nationwide. Funassyi in particular is beloved for his hyperactivity and glee.

And then there's Matsubara-kun, the new mascot for Matsubara, a city wedged between Osaka and Sakai. Shaped like the boundaries of his eponymous city (see map above) and with a blank expression, he seems plainer and blunter than his counterparts. This is only reinforced by the advertisement released so far for an upcoming anime series starring him.

Q: What is Matsubara famous for?
Matsubara-kun: Nothing.

Matsubara-kun is the work of Takuya Koyama, a student at the Osaka University of Arts who serves as director, writer and editor of the series. You can get an idea of his style in this anime series, "Sushi-kun," starring a sushi fairy summoned when people are hungry but whom everyone seems to find repulsive. In this episode, Sushi-kun is freaking out about the girl because he thinks she's from a "subculture." (She thinks he's creepy/cute.)

Matsubara already has a mascot, Makki, who represents the combination of a pine tree with roses. (Matsu means pine and bara means rose.) Matsubara-kun commemorates the 60th anniversary of Matsubara's incorporation as a city.

"Matsubara-kun" will premiere on Matsubara City's official website on May 18 and will run for five episodes to be released daily. We'll have to see if Matsubara really has nothing worth talking about or if Matsubara-kun just has a strange sense of humor.

[Via Kai-You; Images from Wikipedia and Yuruchara Shōkai]

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