Gunma TV Cancels Broadcast of Gunma-chan Mascot Anime Episode Featuring Gambling

posted on by Adriana Hazra, Crystalyn Hodgkins
Viewers complained about depiction of bicycle race tracks in previous episode of anime

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on December 25 that according to the Gunma TV broadcaster, the broadcaster did not air the 11th episode of the Gunma-chan anime on December 12 because the episode contained a depiction of boat racing, which is an avenue for legalized gambling in Japan.

The broadcaster specified that since a character in the episode both wins and loses an excessive amount of money (losing enough not to be able to afford a train ride home), the staff judged that the episode might be inappropriate for children as it might incite a passion for gambling among young children.

Gunma TV additionally explained that viewers had previously complained to Japan's non-government Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization (BPO) regarding the depiction of bicycle race tracks in another episode of the anime that aired in October. Bicycle racing and horse racing are the other two sports that have legalized gambling in Japan.

The Governor of Gunma Prefecture Ichita Yamamoto addressed the controversy regarding the episode in a press conference on December 28, stating about executives at Gunma TV, "They've probably never seen any anime, not even One Piece or Demon Slayer. They probably don't have a sense of balance about societal trends or the allure of anime. They probably didn't even consider anything like freedom of expression." He added, "I'm pretty astounded by how chillingly out-of-touch the top management's sensibilities are."

The episode did air on other stations.

The anime is based on Gunma Prefecture's mascot character, and it premiered on Tokyo MX, TV Kanagawa, TV Saitama, Chiba TV, Gunma TV, Tochigi TV, Sun TV, and KBS Kyoto on October 3. Gunma Prefecture has plans to stream the anime online worldwide with Japanese audio and English, French, and Chinese subtitles after the television broadcast is finished. The show had 39 episodes with each episode running for seven minutes, and it aired on television three episodes at a time (similarly to how the Sazae-san anime airs). The final episode aired on December 26.

Mitsuru Hongo (Ascendance of a Bookworm, Outlaw Star, World Trigger, Deltora Quest) directed and wrote the anime at Ascension (Dino Girl Gauko).

The current pony mascot debuted as the "Yūma-chan" mascot for a sports competition in 1994, and became the prefecture's Gunma-chan mascot in 2008. It replaced an earlier Gunma-chan design that the prefecture used since the 1980s.

Source: The Asahi Shimbun (link 2, 松田果穂) via Sora News 24

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