What happens when a Japanese city tries to create a mascot to promote recycling and eco-friendliness but can’t think of its own original character concept? The answer is to recycle popular mascots already in existence!
Meet “Ecoha-chan,” the official mascot for the city of Ube in Japan’s Yamaguchi prefecture. Look a little familiar? Ecoha-chan first debuted in costume last October upon the opening of the city’s new “Ginten Eco Plaza,” but when its photo was posted on the city’s official blog on Monday, visitors began to note the similarities between it and everyone’s favorite Pokemon, Pikachu. An unknown amount of the city’s own staff even expressed concern over the similarities between the two when Echo-chan’s costume was first drafted last year, but that apparently didn’t dissuade the city from using it and even copyrighting the character.
Though the photo was quickly removed from the blog on Monday, the city still remains adamant over its ownership of the character as well as its originality. Following Monday’s drama, a city representative stated, “[Our] original illustration [and the character of Pikachu] are different, and we consider copyright not to be a problem.” In response, the Pokemon Company stated, “We will gather more information about the situation, and then we will want to consider our options for how to respond.”
So what will happen to Pikaleaf? Will it be recycled into spare cloth? Will Pikachu get a green brother or new Forme in the sixth generation games? Will TPC allow the city to use Pikachu to promote their environmental agenda? Who knows! Thanks goes to Anime News Network for translating this story!