The Japanese Olympic Committee has been tweeting images of the previously announced characters, which are decked out in “Japan” emblazoned outfits to show their support for the Games.
“This is awful.”
“This will make Astro Boy’s image bad.”
“Don’t use this character [Naruto] in these dirty Olympics.”
“If [Osamu] Tezuka was alive, would he approve of holding this Olympics?”
“Stop this. Seriously, stop it. Don’t get [Sailor] Moon wrapped up in this.”
“They’re just drawings.”
“The creator of Astro Boy was a doctor. The Olympics should not be supported over human life, because this is an emergency due to the novel coronavirus.”
“You’re making a bad call, Japan Olympic Committee.”
“It’s sad to see Sailor Moon used like this commercially. This is confirmation that the current Olympics are the worst.”
“Complain to the copyright holders who permitted this.”
“This is dirtying up Usagi Tsukino’s image.”
“This is blasphemy to the God of Manga (Tezuka).”
“This is embarrassing so please stop.”
“Osamu Tezuka is weeping...”
“I’m looking forward to the Olympics! I’ll be cheering from my house.”
“People who get upset over this are unhinged.”
“Apologize to Tezuka.”
“I will punish you, in the name of Corona!”
“In some way, this is truly sad...regrettable...aggravating...”
Rumiko Tezuka, Tezuka’s oldest daughter and a board member at Tezuka Productions, took to Twitter, writing that the agreement to use Astro Boy was inked when there wasn’t any notion of the impending covid threat. “At that time, this [Olympics] was something everyone was looking forward to,” she wrote. The way it’s turned out now, there are pros and cons for holding the games, she added, pointing out that Astro Boy was part of the cheering squad for business reasons.
Reading the remarks of Tezuka’s daughter is a good reminder that these characters were announced as “ambassadors” for the Tokyo Olympics way back in early 2017—pre-pandemic and a million years ago.
On the Tokyo’s Olympics official page, there are licensed goods featuring the aforementioned characters as well as Goku from Dragon Ball, Luffy from One Piece, and Shin-chan from Crayon Shin-chan, among others.
The merchandise has been on sale for years, now. Some of the current unhappiness about these characters promoting the Games seems like a reflection of negative feelings in Japan about the Tokyo Olympics.
While the number of vaccinations has increased dramatically of late, hitting a million a day, there are questions over whether that’s enough to be in time for the Olympics, as covid-19 cases in Tokyo are increasing.
Public support of the Games is shifting, it seems. According to The Asahi Shimbun, one of the country’s largest newspapers, sixty percent of those the paper polled in Tokyo want the Olympics and Paralympics canceled this summer. In a Mainichi Shimbun poll, 58 percent of those in Tokyo polled were against the Games going forward. Another poll, conducted by Nikkei-TV Tokyo, shows that over half support holding the Tokyo Games. In comparison, a poll published last month showed 80 percent were against this year’s Olympics.
When the Games were first announced, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe popped out of a Warp Pipe, wearing a Super Mario hat. Featuring anime and game characters in the Tokyo Olympics was inevitable. The pandemic, however, was not.