This is an otter travesty.
The mayor of Susaki City in Kochi Prefecture has officially requested that popular yurukyara mascot Chiitan “suspend activities.” The activities in question include falling over a lot and attempting various everyday activities in a giant otter suit.
All this has been brought to us through a steady stream of social media videos that can really brighten your day.
ちぃたん☆ (@love2chiitan) January 29, 2019
The point of Susaki’s contention is the copyright infringement Chiitan imposes on the city’s own official mascot Shinjo-kun, who is also well-known as the 2016 Yurukyara Grand Prix champion. Both Shinjo-kun and Chiitan’s suits are made by the same person and clearly have a similar style.
Initially, Susaki embraced Chiitan and declared her to be a “Tourism Ambassador” for them, despite the fact she was based in Tokyo.
▼ Shinjo-kun was Chiitan’s guest on her first ever YouTube video, suggesting a fruitful partnership between the two.
The amicable relationship continued for some time, but in January of this year Susaki reported that they had received over 100 complaints from residents that Chiitan’s behavior was unbecoming of the city. As a result, Mayor Kosaku Kusunose rescinded her status as Tourism Ambassador.
This sparked some concern that Chiitan’s likeness to Shinjo-kun might cause a problem. However, at the time of her dismissal, there appeared to be no animosity. Mayor Kusunose himself told Yomiuri Shimbun, “It’s an unfortunate matter, but it was damaging the image of Shinjo-kun, who is working at regional unification.”
▼ In all fairness, Chiitan probably wasn’t the greatest influence on Shinjo-kun
ご当地キャラまつりin須崎 9月8日(土)9日(日)にちぃたん☆もいきますっ☆ 高知県須崎市観光大使としてしんじょうくんと一緒に盛り上げますっ☆ いっぱいおともだち出来ると嬉しいですっ☆ちぃたん☆ですっ☆… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
ちぃたん☆ (@love2chiitan) August 02, 2018
Even Mayor Kusunose’s more recent comments felt somewhat begrudged, suggesting he may not entirely be on board with the idea of going after Chiitan. It’s possible he is being pressured by a certain segment of his citizenry. On 6 February he told media, “The copyright is the property of the citizens. Legal action is an option.”
On the other hand, the timing of their complaint is suspicious, coming right on the heels of the Chiitan anime announcement. Set to air on 3 April, Yosei Chiitan represents a rare cross-over for a yurukyara to become a full-fledged anime character – one which would be completely obliterated by a copyright infringement claim.
▼ “Yesterday I was a little dirty when I got home from playing, so I was told I was going to go and play in a special room! Chiitan’s excited about the special room!”
ちぃたん☆ (@love2chiitan) January 22, 2019
Legally speaking, Susaki does have Chiitan dead to rights, and is entitled to a piece of her action if that is really what they are looking for.