Teenage girl who was ritualistically buried alive during the Middle Ages says she can relate.

At one time, moe characters–manga-style mascots usually drawn as young women–were a ubiquitous fixture in Japanese culture, being seen everywhere from Buddhist temples to beer. However, recent high-profile incidents have caused the practice to come under scrutiny and prompted people to ask important questions like: “Do we really need a saucer-eyed teenage girl telling us to join the military?”

The most recent censorship of a Love Live! tie-in with Numazu City in Shizuoka has sent shockwaves reaching into rural Gujo City, Gifu Prefecture, where an unofficial local mascot, Oyoshi-chan, says she’s been in this situation herself.

▼ “These extreme complaints about illustrations of girls are really sad. I had a similar trauma before, becoming unofficial and unrecognized. I was replaced for a pamphlet about my castle. I was even conservatively dressed…”

The image in the tweet above shows the original pamphlet with a vibrant, well-detailed illustration of Oyoshi-chan on the left, and the pamphlet it was hastily replaced with on the right, featuring a clipart family who look like they’re all on anti-depression medication. Oyoshi went on to explain that this all happened about four years ago.

It’s probably good to mention at this point that Oyoshi-chan is a Hitobashira or “Human Pillar”, which were human sacrifices buried alive in the foundation of structures such as castles and bridges centuries ago to protect them from natural disasters. There are a handful of castles around Japan that are believed to have Hitobashira underneath, one of which is Gujo Hachiman, built in 1559.

▼ Despite being dead for over 400 years, she hosted a series of radio shows produced by Konami, proving once again that everyone has a podcast

At the time of Oyoshi-chan’s development, her artist was tasked with creating a moe character to represent Gujo and Gujo Hachiman reflecting its history and culture in online media. Various historians and experts were consulted and much research was done to carefully add symbolism and meaning to Oyoshi-chan’s look.

The actual existence of a Hitobashira under Gujo Hachiman is a matter of legend and not certain. Nevertheless, due to its inherent morbidness, great pains were taken to ensure Oyoshi-chan respectfully conveyed the situation without resorting to overt sexuality or humor.

Her official debut was to be on the flyer for a festival pictured in the tweet above, but at the last minute the higher-ups in the local government got cold feet about the whole moe thing and swiftly terminated her out of fear the image could be perceived as disrespectful.

However, you cannot kill what is already dead, so Oyoshi-chan went rogue and still tweets prolifically to this day, promoting Gujo City from beyond the grave, purely out of love for the region.

▼ “Everyone, if you want to eat Gujo chicken you can order it! There are various kinds from different shops so please try them all!”

Moe works like Oyoshi-chan and others may just be drawings to some people, but to their creators they are very special, often having been made with a great deal of love and attention. If Oyoshi-chan’s creator’s reaction to everything that has happened is any indication, rather than have all that hard work scrubbed out, illustrators would probably be open to making alterations to address potentially offensive details.

Instead, the organizations who commissioned these creations in the first place often show complete disregard for them, callously burying them for no other reason than the fear of a PR disaster that might never even happen in the first place.

I guess some things never change.

Source: Twitter/@oyoshi_gujo, Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/@oyoshi_gujo
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