An anime’s association with a Japanese town of Onsen causes public outcry


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In Japan, many real-world objects and locations have been anthropomorphized into anime characters, creating perfect opportunities for promotional ties and collaborations. One project, for example, turned the main hot spring areas of Japan into Onsen Musume, cute goddesses who also act as idols, competing with each other to become the best idol group in the country.

The Onsen Musume Project – approved as a Cool Japan Company by the Cabinet Office to help promote tourism – has been working to revitalize hot spring regions since 2016, encouraging fans to visit various hot springs to shop for goods and see. their favorite idols in 2- D shape.

Some of the Onsen Musume characters

Spa towns may decide to use the characters to promote themselves, but that can be a tough call to make, given that some members of the audience are opposed to the way young girls are portrayed in the cartoons.

â–¼ Yubara Onsen in Okayama Prefecture is currently a spa town facing backlash following its involvement in a collaboration with Onsen Musume.

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Stores and individuals in the region have become the target of harassment, prompting Yubara Onsen officials to address the issue publicly on Twitter, highlighting some of the criticism they have received.

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The above tweet reads as follows:

“Regarding comments, etc. on social networks:

There have been cases of telephone hoaxes, malicious word of mouth, slurs and discrimination against participating stores and individuals. If this continues, we will consult a lawyer and take legal action for business obstruction and libel.

Please have fun while taking netiquette seriously.

Upon hearing the news, Onsen Musume fans began to address negative comments to those who might have gotten mad at the collaboration, with much anger at feminists and others who are known to denounce the anime as a form of exploitation and objectification of children.

In response, Yubara Onsen officials appeared to send a plea for peace, with another tweet later that evening.

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The above tweet says:

“Regarding this outcry, we don’t want fans to make excessive remarks or social sanctions, as we will proceed with the objections through the appropriate Yubara Onsen unions and associations.

We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

That didn’t stop the online flame wars, however, as Onsen Musume continued to be a trending topic on social media, with people arguing for and against collaborating with anime. Fans would no doubt fear a repeat of the incident that happened in Shizuoka Prefecture last year when promotional material featuring a Love Live! character was pulled from a mall after complaints were made about the see-through nature of her skirt.

â–¼ Controversial animated collaboration from last year.

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At the time, however, fans set up a Change.org petition to keep the collaboration alive, and reports claimed that the farming group that initiated the partnership wanted to continue using the character as well. Now, it appears Yubara Onsen is also doubling down on his own collaboration, threatening legal action against those who use unscrupulous means to oppose it.

While there are valid points to be made on both sides of the fence, Yubara Onsen, like many other onsen towns in Japan right now, has gone it hard during the coronavirus pandemic, and is undoubtedly putting the survival of the city, and the businesses and families that live there, top their current priorities.

Which is understandable, considering those other long-standing public bathing facilities that have had to close due to the dramatic drop in visitor numbers over the past two years.

Sources: Onsen Museum, Twitter / @ yubarasawa, Jin, Hachima Kiko

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