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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pokemon, Samurai And Soccer

Pokemon, samurai and soccer (football, if we must)... you'd think there could be nothing in common - except in Japan, of course.

Okay... I like Pokemon as much as the next 40-something guy... though I'm pretty sure there are a few 40-something guys out there who like Pokemon a helluva lot... but as for me, okay I know that's lame, especially since my own 8-year-old son doesn't care to watch it - but I do actually like Pokemon.

It has a good moral value, and the Pokemon pocket monsters are interesting, and I just love trying to figure out a new creature's powers just by hearing the name.

The Japanese like Pokemon too, but that seems like a blanket statement and is probably inaccurate.

It's like saying that all Canadians are maple-syrup sucking, puck-slapping hockey fans, when in truth there are a couple who aren't. Actually, lots of people don't watch hockey here in Toronto unless the team is suddenly playing well, then more people bruise their shins jumping on the bandwagon. As a hockey fan, I can only hope that bruise hurts.

We do suck maple-syrup, though. All of us.

Yup... you guys come to Canada sometime, and you can see the entire population kissing a tree trying to suck out sap.

And if you believe that, well... perhaps you'd like to buy a tabeletop hockey game I have for sale right now. No I don't. No real Canadian would ever sell his tabletop hockey game.

Anyhow... despite the fact that Japan does seem to like things that are either cute (kawaii) or are based on anime (animated films/cartoons) or manga (comic books), surely not everyone loves that type of stuff, right?

I think I slept with a Japanese woman who didn't like cute things - which was why she slept with me. Ba-dum-bum.

But come on... an airplane for regular travelers covered in Pokemon characters? Really? Sure. Why not?

I know this is old, but I just couldn't resist showing the photo below of a Pokemon airplane.

What makes this of particular interest, is that this was the very ANA airplane that left Japan carrying the Men's Japanese National Soccer team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

I had previously written about Pokemon being announced as the official mascot for the Japanese
World Cup squad in 2014.

Well, Pokemon and the Japanese Men's National Soccer team also teamed up to produce replica jerseys with the Pokemon character Pikachu (electric mouse) on them, which I am pretty sure they did NOT wear at the tourney.

Heck - if you look at the manga image at the very top of all the Pokemon mascots, you'll notice they are actually wearing the OFFICIAL Japan Men's Soccer jersey, not the one featuring the pocket monsters themselves!

The Pokemon Japan Men's National Soccer Team jersey is a replica one made for kids, or small in stature Japanese adults, so you make your own decision as to who it's actually for.
I know that Pokemon were supposed to be the team's mascot. However, the national team's nickname is the Samurai, and because the team wears blue, it's the Samurai Blue.

But if your team nickname is the Samurai or Samurai Blue, would it not be better to have a 'samurai' mascot.

In the eyes of many a westerner and Japanese person, the iconic image of the samurai is stoic, with honor, skilled and deadly. Exactly the kind of things you would want associated with your team... which is why I assume it's the national team's nickname!

I am sure that Nintendo or whomever paid a pretty yen to associate itself with the national soccer team... and that's cool... as mascots... but perhaps the next time the team travels to an important tourney, to avoid looking like a country of immature adults, perhaps they could 'wallpaper' the transportation with some awesome samurai warrior imagery, rather than the plane image at the very top.

Now... you can see here a JAL airplane in 2006 with graphics that show the Men's soccer team... nice try as long as that's for the average Joe Suzuki to fly... but it's hardly inspiring for a nation that loves its soccer heroes and its warrior past.

Here's a 2014 JAL Boeing 777 passenger jetplane with a special commemorative patch on it for the 2014 FIFA World Cup challengers... It's nice, and again, if I was flying on it as a passenger, that would be okay, I suppose...

But how about something like the samurai above. He's about to do battle. He's primed and ready. You could add a splash of 'blue' to his helmet if you like, and alter the background red stripe to be more in tune with the rising sun on the Japanese flag - add a logo - and apply that image all over the front end of the airplane, with the tip of the katana (sword) pointing forward as if striking something, touching the plane's nose from both sides of the plane.

Tell me something like that wouldn't inspire a team more than an electric pikachu and other pretty wimpy first-level Pokemon. Look, I know the whole Pokemon show can inspire kids with the sense of determination and fair-play, but it's hardly hardly awe-inspiring.

And... if you think I'm kidding, just recall that the last time (and only time) Japan won the best national costume award at the Miss Universe contest, it was for a samurai-themed outfit worn by Kurara Chibana (surname first) in 2006.
With her katana sword tucked along her left hip,
Kurara Chibana wears heels and a whole lotta amour, I mean armour.
She can kick my ass any day.

The Japan Men's National Soccer league team could learn from her.

Andrew Joseph

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