Tokyo's culture places a lot of emphasis on mascots. Those videos that we think are adorably weird of Pikachu parades are old-hat in Japan. Japan's eccentricities are well-documented, with the "yuru-kyara" getting international attention in everything from viral videos to the selection of mascots for new events. With that in mind, it was known that Japanfor 2020's Summer Olympics lightly, since the mascots will likely be featured prominently in the Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony.
In order to select the mascots, Japan put it up to a vote from its school children. For a reminder, here were their options:
On Wednesday, Tokyo's 2020 Games official Twitter account unveiled the winners.
We’re pleased to introduce the #Tokyo2020 Games Mascots! The Olympic Mascot is inspired by a fusion of tradition with modern innovation, the Paralympic Mascot by nature and the supernatural powers that make Japan distinct. They’d like to say hello! https://t.co/0FYIsGPzjF pic.twitter.com/hn7qhe0AXM— Tokyo 2020 (@Tokyo2020) February 28, 2018
Twitter, of course, really wanted the awkward looking bear and fox (Option C above), but it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the kids went in a different direction. The more angular, futuristic designs of the ones that were chosen likely appealed to them, and it made sense to put the vote to the kids. After all, part a mascot's purpose is to sell toys and make money. And no one buys more toys than kids (or, more specifically, their parents).
Responses were mixed, with people online predictably liking the more traditional-looking C.
But others noticed that the mascots bore a resemblance to one of Japan's most international properties.
oh a pokemon. cool.— Ben Doll (@bendoll1) February 28, 2018
New Pokemon!— Will Flanagan (@monsieurwillie) February 28, 2018
Next gen pokemon right here folks— David Hutton (@TheyCallMeWaynn) February 28, 2018
Pokémon 2.0— Gabriel Dédy™ 🇪🇪 (@Gabrieldedy) February 28, 2018
Personally, I'd say they look more like Digimon, Pokemon's edgier cousin, but to each their own. Some 109,000 votes were cast for the winners among approximately 200,000 votes total. There are really specific backstories for these little guys, with organizers saying that the mascots have "opposite personalities" but "respect each other and are very good friends," according to CNN.
Organizers went on to say that the Olympics' representative (the blue one) has "old-fashioned charm that reflects tradition and also has a high-tech, cutting edge vibe." It can also teleport.
The Paralympics' mascot (the pink one) is kind-hearted and "loves nature." It can talk to rocks and the wind. And it's telekinetic.
Japan takes its mascots seriously. Very. Seriously.