Rejected Pearl Diver Mascot Megu Aoshima Gets Anime Promo Videos

posted on 2017-07-13 19:45 EDT by Jennifer Sherman

The city of Shima, Mie withdrew official backing of its mascot character Megu Aoshima two years ago due to a raging controversy over whether the moe character is a suitable representation of the area's famous female pearl divers (ama) who are typically much older. However, that did not stop the character's creators from continuing to sell products with her likeness, and they launched a crowdfunding campaign last year to make a promotional anime video starring Megu. Due to the campaign's success, Maribon began streaming 15- and 45-second versions of a Megu anime promotional video on Thursday.

Mikako Komatsu (Ajin's Izumi Shimomura, Heroman's Joey, Eromanga Sensei's Ayame Kagurazaka), a native of the city of Kuwana in Mie, stars as Megu in the videos. The videos feature etsuco's song "Te" (Hand).

In the videos, Megu promotes not only Shima, but also the greater Ise-Shima region consisting of Ise, Toba, Shima, and parts of Minami-Ise. The aspiring pearl diver struggles to hold onto an Ise-ebi (Japanese spiny lobster), one of Mie Prefecture's specialties. In the longer video, Megu visits Ise Grand Shrine, which is the one of the most important shrines in Japan's Shinto religion. She then heads to the nearby Okage-yokochō area of shops and historical buildings and to the Meoto Iwa (Married Couple Rocks) that are sacred in Shinto. The ninja character Mai Igarashi makes an appearance at the end of the video. Mai is the mascot for Iga, Mie, a city known as a birthplace of ninja culture.

The anime project's crowdfunding campaign raised 7,158,000 yen (about US$63,000) surpassing its 4 million-yen (US$35,000) goal before ending in January. Supporters received rewards such as a file of the video itself, a clear file, a hanging scroll, and a mini-figure.

Shima, the location of last year's G-7 diplomatic summit, unveiled Megu to honor its local female pearl divers in November 2014. She is part of a trend of regions and cities in Japan promoting themselves through youthful moe characters. However, pearl divers (ama) are 70 years old on average and bear little resemblance to Megu. The character offends some people, and the daughter of a diver, Isako Utsubo launched the movement that led Shima to withdraw its official recognition of the character who was created by an outside design firm. Utsubo claimed Megu's appeal was "based on women's sexuality more than pearl diving."

Megu won the Animedia Special Prize in the Moe Chara Grand Prix 2016 competition between different mascots in October.

Source: Animate Times

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