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Animated characters make a $30 billion industry in Japan

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Police forces use, stores can not do without them, power companies have - and a bag of them when they become unpopular. No campaign or marketing information of the public is complete without them. Cute, cuddly - or surprising - the characters are everywhere in Japan.

While vendors throughout the world have understood the value of a cartoon animal that large can persuade children to part with their pocket money, the Japanese know it is also an effective way to reach parents .

And despite the tepid economy, no money involved.


The character licensing industry, including copyright and trade, worth a whopping U.S. $ 30 billion (RM94.87 billion) a year - more than the Japanese spend on books per year.

It's not just the big names - Hello Kitty or Pokemon - that attract the crowds and their cash.

Two days of "great assembly" in the central city of Gifu Japan attracted about 120,000 visitors were entertained by 47 adults and medium-sized pets, one of each prefecture, who treated the visitors singing, dancing and endless opportunities photo.

The "Yuru-kyara" (suggesting "the relaxed"), often representing the regions or cities, taking their inspiration from the famous local food, people, animals, industries, or occasionally a combination of both.

The characters traveled malls, pursued by balloon-children and adults with cell phones - they were eager to shake hands and take pictures.

They also had a tug of war, pitting the east against west, and gathered for a well-coordinated song and dance show.

Melon-bear and walk burgers

Among their number-kuma Meron ("Melon-bear") of Yubari in Hokkaido, the land of eye poppingly expensive melons and home to wild bears, and the guy at the burger giant burger in a uniform walking sailor representing the southwestern city of Sasebo, the seat of a large U.S. naval base.

One of the few human shapes including Lerch-san, a European long face with a mustache, based on Theodor Edler von Lerch, Niigata claims that mountain was a ski instructor in Japan first.

Kumamon, a bear of Kumamoto, a place whose name seems to indicate the presence of large carnivores, despite not being found as far south, was one of the most popular.

Like many here, Kumamon has its own official website, which takes snapshots taken by fans and the schedule of daily lists of appearance.

Many visitors said that growing up surrounded by characters like that meant she could continue to appreciate until middle age.

"Even in adulthood, we found no mental block for them and think they're cute," said Aki Kamikara, 38.

"I'm searching the web when I get home I found some new characters that I like," he said.

Her husband, Yuichi, 42, said it was worth the trip.

"There are plenty of characters that are not usually ranging from interest for the good," he said. "It's fun."

Yano Research Institute estimates that the Japanese market was worth ¥ character 2389.5 million (RM95.17 million) in the year to March 2011, 1.7 percent from the previous year.

"The size of the market is on track long-term gradual decline in drops in population and aging society will continue," said Tokyo-based institute in a report last year.

However, continuous innovation, since the demonstrations and competitions stamp card games that involve the entire family, continue to attract bettors, he said.

Fans also visit the sites and facilities associated with their favorite characters in what is called "pilgrimage" and "tourism content," the report said.

Speaking to Japanese mentality

But the trend can become a character.

Denko-chan, the girl with a ponytail who instructed the public on energy conservation and safety campaigns for more than two decades on behalf of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) was found in the scrap heap in March this year.

The company, struggling to cope with the consequences of public relations disaster in Fukushima, has donned sackcloth and ashes and is currently without a representative cute.

Noriaki Sato, president of Radetzky, the event management company that organized the event in Gifu, said characters speak to the Japanese mind.

"Anime and manga have taken deep root in Japan and people are familiar with many characters from an early age," he told AFP that Yanana, a slender woman's body with a square head posed for photos a few steps away .

The Yuru-kyara not speak, but easily evoke the characteristics of the region they represent, he said.

"Some people prefer the strategy of sending messages to offer their services in the minds of the people" in this way, he said.

Those inside the suits agree that were part of something that matched the nation's collective soul.

"The Japanese, like the characters a lot," said a man with a red mask of the central city of Tsu.

"From children to seniors, who are happy when the characters appear in the events ... This is a culture of Japan, we take pride in."

AFP
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