When Cops Fight Crime with Cute

Not everything in Japan is kawaii, or "cute". Some things are downright ugly, such as the crimes people read about in the newspaper. Instead of fighting fire with fire, one Japanese city is killing crime with cuteness.

Matsudo City in Chiba Prefecture is launching a series of posters, designed to appeal to young people. And since the posters are designed to appeal to young people, the Matsudo said the posters feature "moé" style illustrations.

Moé is Japanese otaku slang that literally means "budding", but it can refer to any sort of warm fuzzy feeling fans get for cute characters. The moé style is popular in anime, manga, and Japanese video games.

Hoping to tap that cuteness, Matsudo is launching a "magical girl" character (think Sailor Moon) for a poster campaign, reports website IT Media. The posters feature the tagline "Stop the hanzai" or "Stop the crime", and pointed out that the 15th of every month is "No Crime Day", which makes it sound like the other days are "Crime Day" by default.

Pulling phony holidays out of thin air is fairly common in Japan—akin to Talk Like a Pirate Day in the West. Some retailers and even Sega arcades also claim days of the month as their own, running promotions. For example, the 23rd of every month is "Sega Day". Matsudo City appears to be following suit.

The city also has scheduled citizen patrol days every few months. According to Matsudo, as Japan ages, it's the responsibility of younger people to help prevent crime—hence, the cute poster.

Matsudo isn't the first city to use cute characters. Many police departments uses anime animal mascots. Magical girls (think Sailor Moon) are not prevalent—ditto for illustrated females. However, one town even used manga drawings of schoolgirls to combat train groping—a curious choice!

Fire and crime prevention posters often feature b-list Japanese celebrities. Celebrities, b-list or not, cost more than commissioning some 2D illustrations, which are certainly far more arresting—for lack of a better word.

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(Top photo: 七六 | 松戸市)

You can contact Brian Ashcraft, the author of this post, at bashcraft@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.