Oh to be a child again – to not care what others think, to ask questions randomly and endlessly, to see only friendship in others, and possibility in anything….
And so it is inspirational to me that the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee decided to have elementary school children in Japan select the mascots of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. On December 7, 2017, the organizers finally unveiled the top three mascot designs, which will be put to a vote of schoolchildren held from December 11 of this year to February 22 of 2018.
Initially, to my adult eyes, they kind of look and feel similar, perhaps because they are generally all humanoid, and of the same dimensions. To me, the Olympic mascots of candidates A and B are quite similar in their big-eye and big-ear look. But on closer inspection, candidate C is different, with the pronounced application of Japanese fairy tale characters – the fox (kitsune) and the raccoon (tanuki).
Candidate B’s Paralympic mascot is also from Japanese lore, an animated representation of the koma-inu, the lion-dog creature that you often see at the entrance of shrines. Candidate A tries to employ the checkered design of the official Tokyo2020 logo, which to me, feels kind of forced, something a committee member would recommend.
But again, my adult eyes are not the filter – the mascots are for the kids.
Having said that, the finalists in this competition were decidedly selected by adults. As this list of jury panelists show, only adults selected the final three designs. And these were very commercial adults, people who have succeeded in marketing product to children and young adults: experts from toy companies Bandai and Takara Tomy, from comic publishers Shueisha and Shogakukan, children’s book publisher Poplar, game producers Bandai Namco and Square Enix, anime producer Toei Animation and stuffed doll manufacturer Sega Interactive.
So the Tokyo 2020 mascots, when they are voted on by schoolchildren in the coming weeks, aren’t entirely springing from the fertile minds of children. But at least they have a say. The question is – will moms and dads the world over, when the time comes, have a say in whether to buy or not.