WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

What’s wrong with this Tokyo subway picture?

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 2:24pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 9:13pm

The operator of Tokyo’s subway system has back-tracked on a radical makeover for its promotional character after the new anime incarnation of Michika Ekino was deemed more than a little inappropriate.

Described as the “eternal 23-year-old” station attendant for the Tokyo Metro, the Ekino character first appeared in 2013 as a conventionally two-dimensional character in the brown uniform and a blue hat of subway employees.

In an ill-advised effort to “sex-up” her character, however, the designers seem to have got a little carried away.

In the new design, released on October 13, Ekino has become a doe-eyed “moe” character with parted lips, flushed cheeks and a submissive look in her big, round eyes.

Her dress was also redesigned - to the point where it has become virtually transparent. Ekino’s thighs are visible through the sheer material and it appears that her underwear can be seen.

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Unveiled as part of a campaign to encourage children to visit stations and collect different stamps, which is scheduled to start in February, the new-look Ekino prompted a storm of comments on the Internet - including one commentator who suggested that the way she is crossing her legs suggests that she needs to urgently visit the toilet.

A poster named Ishibashi said on the Naver forum that the upgraded character was “strange” and “unflattering” - as well as making her appear “loose” and a long way from the classic appearance that the company should be aiming to project.

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Sea Cucumber, posting on the same web site, said the designers and the people who approved the new image “should be scolded” for what is an “overly-adult interpretation.”

Tokyo Metro authorities respond swiftly to the criticism, releasing an amended image of their poster girl five days later.

Gone was the pout, the enhanced bust, knock-knees and see-through skirt, although she still looks a little flushed. The new, new Ekino has also adopted a more sensible and helpful posture.

The makeover was part of a collaboration between TomyTec, a division of the giant Tomy top company, as part of the broader revamp of anime characters representing the railway.

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Yet underneath, Ekino remains the same young woman she has always been, with her company profile and Facebook pages saying she’s 154 cm tall, is originally from Germany and can play the violin. Her other hobbies include exploring the districts around subway stations and shopping, while she dislikes insects, the “hustle and bustle of the city” and celery.

And even though she only exists in two dimensions, Ekino insists she’s able to hold her drink on a night out.