Japan might be under a state of emergency, but the only emergency these customers are worried about is not catching limited-edition Pokémon fashion.

Anytime a clothing brand teams up with the Pokémon franchise it inevitably creates a stir amongst fans, but when it’s the hugely popular Japanese casual clothing chain GU — Uniqlo’s sister store for youth fashion — the stir turns into a full-blown frenzy.

So when the GU Pokémon range arrived in stores last week, queues formed at branches around the country well before opening time. While this isn’t out of the ordinary for a hot new release like this, what is out of the ordinary is the fact that Japan is currently under a state of emergency, with the government urging people to stay home and only go out for essential needs.

For many, getting their hands on the new collaboration appeared to fall into the essential needs category, as people blatantly ignored social distancing advice and guidelines to keep a two-metre (6.6-foot) distance between one another, lining up in close proximity inside malls…

▼ And outside them as well…

▼ At stand-alone stores, lines snaked around buildings and up stairs.

According to this Twitter user, about 70 people were in line outside this branch of GU in Kanagawa Prefecture, with customers given numbered tickets before entry.

At least one store appeared to have some coronavirus countermeasures in place, limiting entry to 20 people at a time.


However, at other stores, there was absolutely no social distancing going on.

People who saw shoppers lining up for these non-essential goods were quick to voice their disapproval online.

“Guess we’ll be hearing about Poké clusters in the news soon.”
“Do these people think coronavirus is a new Pokémon that needs to be caught???”
“Uniqlo should take the blame for this. I have no respect for a company that knowingly makes people queue at a time like this.”
“It’s particularly disappointing to see parents lining up with their children.”
“People were mad when they saw customers lining up outside pachinko parlours during the state of emergency, but this is just as bad.”
“GU should’ve postponed the sale or limited it to online sales only.”

With a large number of event organisers, live music venues and store owners currently limiting their business activities and sacrificing their earnings in order to help stop the spread of coronavirus, the anger many feel towards GU is not unwarranted, especially at a critical time like this.

As much as we all love these collaborations, no company should be putting customers and their young children at risk of contracting the potentially deadly virus. Because even if customers are willing to risk life and limb to get their hands on special limited-edition Pokémon pyjamas, it’s not going to be worth it if the only place they get to wear them is in an intensive care unit at hospital.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Top image: Twitter/@GO77178977

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