These ads make us wonder if we’re taking the state of emergency seriously enough! 

While other developed countries have been progressing through a steady vaccination campaign and working on returning to some sort of normalcy, Japan has been struggling to adequately distribute its vaccines, and has recently extended its third state of emergency of the pandemic, which will now last until just a few weeks before the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

Citizens are recommended to continue to stay home as much as possible, wear masks in public spaces, wash their hands often, avoid close contact with others, and avoid crowded indoor spaces, as they have been since the start of the pandemic. But while these are commonly understood and generally followed rules for the pandemic, it still, apparently, needed to be broadcasted all over JR Hakata Station in Fukuoka prefecture in the form of terrifyingly dystopian ads.

▼ Instagram post by our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma

We couldn’t help but stop in front of this huge video screen we walked by on which the word “Emergency (緊急)” appeared in enormous kanji on a stark white background. At first we thought it was the start of some kind of movie trailer, but then it began to flash familiar messages about staying home and washing hands. Still, the whole ad gave us major Evangelion vibes.

The colors, font, formatting, visuals, and speed of the messages all convey a kind of frightening urgency that inspire a sense of foreboding–the same kind of feelings we got from the post-apocalyptic sci-fi anime. The style is very much like that used for visuals in the anime too, all of which added to our mounting anxiety as we watched the screen flicker and scroll from message to message.

The whole message is 15 seconds long and has no sound, so perhaps it’s less spooky than it could be. Or perhaps its silence makes it even more terrifying? As the message “A State of Emergency has been declared” popped up without a sound on an all-black screen in a near-silent station, we weren’t quite able to suppress a chill.

Altogether there are 68 different digital signboards broadcasting the dystopian-like messages throughout Hakata Station–which, by the way, was also, coincidentally, a stop of the Evangelion bullet train that operated from 2015 to 2017. So many, in fact, that it almost felt like the entire station had been hijacked by an emergency response system.

It doesn’t help that all of the signboards broadcast the exact same part of the message at the same time. If people hadn’t already known about the State of Emergency before these ads went up, they might have caused a panic!

▼ The marketing is meant to target younger citizens with its anime-like feel, but realistically, anyone would stop to stare at this message.

The signs were initially put up at Nishitetsu Fukuoka Station and outside the metro Tenjin Station in January, when the prefecture first declared its state of emergency. Since then, more and more signs have appeared throughout the Tenjin and Hakata areas of Fukuoka, flashing their warnings at you from every direction.

You may be thinking that you want to go see them for yourself, but maybe just take our word for it that the whole atmosphere is pretty unnerving. As one official said, “Going out to see them sort of defeats the purpose”, so don’t go looking for them if you’re in the area, and obviously don’t travel to Fukuoka just to see them.

But when it is safe to go out again, you can stop by and say hello to the Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train line’s mascot, Kansenjer, who, admittedly, looks a little silly right now amidst the Evangelion-style ads flashing around the station.

He’s supposedly a hero that protects the peace of the world, but…maybe somebody should tell him he needs to step up his game a little.

Images © SoraNews24
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