In Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, the local businesses are looking online to give them inspiration for mascot designs, especially of girlish moe – pronounced “mo-weh” – character illustrations. These businesses are following the efforts of a successful Shizuoka Prefecture website, who also used “moe”-themed characters for their campaigns.
Hyogo’s Moeshoku Project allows local businesses to post their specific needs for a moe mascot, and online artists can make their illustrations, and possibly get a cash reward if his/her illustration is chosen. Artists can upload their designs to the Moeshoku website, where companies looking for a mascot can browse for something that fits their needs, and purchase the artwork they want to use. In most cases, these mascots are used for product packaging designs. The term moe is Japanese for that attraction one feels for cute anime or manga characters. For this project, Yaka Group Corp – a Himeji-based paper packaging company – serves as the channel connecting local companies with online cartoonists and illustrators called eshi painters. “We want to energize local companies and areas with the use of moe characters,” Yaka Group President Atsushi Onishi said.
The first moe character that has been used in Hyogo is Yukino Hiyama. Her character represents the Hyonosen International Ski Resort in Yabu, and the designs with the character on it has already been appearing in TV ads. Tatsuno-based noodle manufacturer Kanesu Seimen Co. has also picked their own design of a long-haired girl and named her Moeka Harima. The noodle company hopes that their mascot boosts the marketing and awareness for their products. “We’d like to make use of the character to promote our new products abroad,” a company representative said.
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