The whole world has eyes on Japan right now, and everyone knows why—it’s the Olympics! After a huge lead-up in the years prior to the event, and a year delay thanks to COVID-19, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are happening for better or for worse. Athletes have come from all over the world, and all over the world people are tuning in however they can to follow the events happening right in Tokyo.
But… what about the otaku side of things? With the Olympics in Japan of all places, has there been otaku influence? Or is it all just about the sports and nothing but the sports?! The answer is—there’s plenty of otaku influence in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics! Some of it has been in the hype building up to the event, and some has been in the event itself. We are going to highlight a few of the most interesting times that otaku influence has shown itself in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Some Very Familiar Faces
Some of Japan’s most recognisable and famous anime characters have actually been “hired” as official mascots for Tokyo 2020. What we mean is, these characters are being used on promotional material and even official goods to represent Japan as ambassadors. The characters chosen are Son Goku (Dragon Ball series), Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon), Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto), Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece), Astro Boy (Astro Boy), Cure Miracle and Cure Magical (Pretty Cure), Shin-chan (Crayon Shin-chan) and Jibanyan (Yo-kai Watch). Even if you haven’t watched all of these anime yourself, you probably recognise the names and pictures. That’s exactly why these characters were chosen!
Otaku may be the most excited about seeing their favourite characters used on a global scale, but there’s also hope that these characters can help introduce anime to even more people. Seeing colourful, fun characters is exactly what the world needs right now, and Japan is hoping that these characters—and the Games themselves!—can bring joy to people everywhere in a tough time. So here’s hoping that these anime ambassadors can not only bring a smile to many faces, but can also help create new otaku all over the world who are curious to learn more about who these characters are.
As for the original, official mascots of Tokyo 2020, Miraitowa and Someity, well they look like they had at least a bit of anime influence in their design, too!
Some Very Familiar Music
One thing that really got otaku around the world excited was the oh-so familiar music that played during the Opening Ceremonies. If you were watching yourself, you likely know what we are talking about. There was a ton of video game music played! And some of it was wonderfully appropriate, a couple of our favourite choices being the Olympus Coliseum theme from Kingdom Hearts and the Victory Fanfare from Final Fantasy. There was also music from the Tales Of series, Monster Hunter, Dragon Quest, Nier, and more. To the untrained ear, it all just sounded like great background music for the start of the Olympics. But to otaku who recognised the songs, the choices that were made so thoughtfully were loved and appreciated.
Since the opening ceremonies, other anime music has also been used in Olympic events. And again, the choices have all been so appropriate. So far, we have heard the theme from Slam Dunk in basketball, Haikyuu!’s theme in volleyball, and Attack on Titan’s main theme in archery. One gymnast from Mexico even did a routine to the Demon Slayer Corps theme from Demon Slayer, and another gymnast did a routine to the opening from Tokyo Revengers! There’s no doubt that the Olympics are fully embracing otaku music, and we are totally on board with this.
And Some Brand New Art!
World Flags Main Theme Song featuring many of their original characters!
Have you seen the incredible art by an organisation called World Flags? Created by Kamaya Yamamoto, World Flags is a huge art undertaking where every country in the Olympics is depicted as an anime-inspired samurai. These characters wear clothing inspired by that nation’s flag, and the artists also research the history and culture to give appropriate touches to each. Countries big and small are all getting this samurai make-over in honour of Tokyo 2020. The goal behind this project is to help people learn about other countries and get interested in them by capturing their attention with beautifully drawn anime boys—and help get people excited about the Olympics even when they cannot attend themselves.
A few embassies in Japan, like Honduras and Venezuela, have even contacted World Flags to ask if they can display their samurai in the embassy! It looks like these anime samurai are indeed bringing people together, and connecting Japan and its history to the rest of the world.
Tokyo 2020 wouldn’t be complete without some otaku influence and we haven’t been disappointed so far. There’s been great music choices, memorable mascots, and cool original artwork. We had high hopes that Japanese games and anime would have some representation at the games and we are happy to report that they have!
What’s been your favourite otaku influence at Tokyo 2020? Can you think of one that we missed? What anime would you love to see making some kind of appearance? Drop us a comment below!