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Olympics: Anime character to bring huge profits to Tokyo
   2017-02-08 17:51:56    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Liang Tao

By Liang Tao

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Committee has announced that Son Goku, an iconic anime character from Dragonball Z, will serve as one of its brand ambassadors. However, unlike his Chinese namesake, this Son Goku is not the Monkey King from Chinese masterpiece Journey to the West, but a home grown Japanese cult anime protagonist.

It looks like Son Goku has a new job that even his "father", Akira Toriyama, would be pround of. The Dragonball legend has vanquished all his rivals in the world of anime, and has been given a rather lofty honor by the government, becoming an ambassodorial image for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Tokyo is the first Asian city to host a summer Olympic Games twice in its history, joining the ranks of Paris, London, Los Angeles and Athens.

When the news was released online, it caused a storm of protest among Chinese netizens. They said the Monkey King in Journey to the West was clearly the prototype for Son Goku in Dragonball. Both are monkeys. They have the same weapons(sticks) and flying tools (Somersault clouds). But after the UNESCO upheld South Korean government's claim that the Duanwu Festival originated in Seoul, are we about to see the Monkey King stolen by Japan.

But in reality, Son Goku in Dragonball is totally different from the Monkey King in Chinese traditional culture.

Japan has chosen anime characters as ambassadors for the Olympic image, hoping to reap huge business opportunities in global market.

First and foremost, Japan boasts a world-renowned anime industry. At present, Japan is the world's largest exporter of animation works, accounting for 60% of the international market, with the market share in Europe and the United States surpassing 80%. In addition, about 60% of the world's animation programs are produced in Japan while nearly 70 countries around the globe show Japanese TV animation, with 40 countries releasing their animated films. Therefore, a large number of Japanese anime characters have become stars in the hearts of a global audience. No wonder the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee spokesman Onokazu said: "Japanese animation has now become a global phenomenon, as a cultural display it is a very natural choice."

Many of you may remember the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics last year when Japanese PM Shinzo Abe dressed himself as Super Mario, a popular video game character, signalling how his country was going to promote and celebrate its rich influence on anime culture when they host the Games in 2020.

The Olympics need to attract new and younger audiences. Animation is Japan's most important and unparalleled business card and boasts a large variety of fans in the world. Animation culture will rightly inject fresh blood into the Tokyo Olympic Games, which is the best means to promote its unique cultural influence throughout the world.

Furthermore, the classic comic series Dragonball evokes nostalgia among anime fans who were born in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. These three generations are now playing a crucial role in the international sports arena.  Sporting cultural ambassadors are expected to cheer on athletes, and spur them on to greatness.

Moreover, the integration of the animation industry and sports industry can bring huge profits to the latter.

The latest data show that animation is the second largest industry in Japan after automobiles, with an annual turnover of 230 trillion yen, or 2 trillion USD. For example, the total revenue of Japanese cartoon-related products sold in the United States is four times its entire steel exports to the US.  The starting point for Japan's anime industry commercial chain is comics.

Serial comic works, released as comic magazines, will gradually be adapted for TV, silver screen and other integrated media forms such as video animation and phone games. Then, in the light of market reaction, a large variety of derivatives ranging from T-shirts to dolls will be further developed. Therefore, the anime industry, a complete integration of animation, comics and games, is mature and can yield fabulous profits. To integrate with such a profitable industry, Tokyo 2020 can easily get a big boost and achieve a win-win result.     

It is reported that the Saiyan fighter Son Goku along with a slew of other famous anime characters including Astro Boy and Sailor Moon have made their appearance on Tokyo Olympics merchandises. These licensed products include T-shirts, caps, towels, key rings, mugs, shopping bags and so on. Of these goods, an ordinary T-shirt is priced at 4298 yen, or about 35 USD.

On one hand, the promotion of the Tokyo Olympics in such a way is to harness the enthusiasm for anime, and boost general public participation. On the other hand, the commercial development of the Tokyo Olympics carried out so far ahead of time, will hopefully reap rewards and create 'memory-recalled' ambassadors.

Last but not least, the iconic anime hero has become known for his insatiable desire to fight, unbending willingness in any struggle and positive attitude toward everything, which are highly consistent with the Olympic slogan, "higher, faster and stronger".

The Olympic Games is the best chance for the whole world to understand Japan's influential anime culture, which can easily bridge people with different cultural background.

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