By Hisashi Kuwahara / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer IKEDA, Osaka — An anime featuring wombats being kept at a municipal zoo in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, has been receiving praise for its self-deprecating dialogue using the Kansai dialect.
The anime’s first episode, posted on the city’s tourism association website and other websites, has been viewed about 11,000 times.
A city official said the city hopes to promote the Satsukiyama Zoo and the city nationwide using the wombat characters.
“I wonder what the differences are between us wombats and koalas,” a wombat says in the first episode of the anime series “Ne, ushi, tora, u! Wombat!” (Mice, cows, tigers, rabbits! Wombats!).
The anime was created by an executive committee organized by entities, including the city government and the tourism association in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the city’s municipal status being enforced in April.
In the first episode, titled “Ninkimono no Joken” (Requirements for popularity) and running 1 minute and 50 seconds, two male wombats named Fuku and Ko chat about the situation of wombats.
Fuku and Ko say that although wombats are marsupial mammals just like koalas, they are just not as popular, although five of the seven wombats in the country are kept in the Satsukiyama Zoo. In addition, people who have seen the wombats say that they look like nutrias, which are large rodents.
The wombats speak in the anime as follows:
Ko: What are you talking about?
Fuku: There are only seven wombats like us living in Japan. Out of them, five are at the Satsukiyama Zoo, so people nationwide should be just as excited at seeing us as they are for pandas.
Ko: I think it’s because, despite being rare in Japan, we wombats are too inconspicuous to get people’s attention.
A total of five episodes are to be posted online, with a new episode appearing at the end of each month. The number of views of the second episode, released on May 28, has reached about 6,800.
The anime can be watched on “Ikenavi” on the city’s tourism information Facebook page, and on the “Umai de Ikeda” section of the tourism association’s website.
“We’ll be happy if the surreal conversation and self-depreciating scenes in the anime can make viewers laugh and feel like coming to Ikeda,” said an official of the city’s tourism and airport section.
In 2012, before any Starbucks coffee shops had yet opened in Tottori Prefecture, the prefecture’s governor said, “While the prefecture has no Sutaba [Starbucks], it has Japan’s No. 1 sunaba — the Tottori Sand Dunes.” The governor said that because “sunaba,” which means “sandpit,” is phonetically similar to “Sutaba.”
As the statement attracted much public attention, a prefectural official said, “We highlighted our strong point that other regions do not have, and got people to talk about it.”
The town of Kimino in Wakayama Prefecture also posted movies on YouTube titled “Saiko no Nai ga Koko ni Aru” (Best none is here) in 2016, and “Honichi Gaikokujin Kankokyaku Zero no Machi” (Town where no foreign tourists visit) in 2017.
Videos promoting the town’s abundant nature have attracted about 77,000 views.
“We chose titles that get people’s attention. The videos allow people to get to know our town,” a Kimino government official said.
The name of the Osaka Prefecture city Hirakata is difficult to read correctly when written in kanji and is often misread as “Maikata.” So, the city government started promoting the city in 2016 on its website and in publicity by saying, “It’s not Maikata” and “If you come and live here, you can call it Maikata.”