I wrote Japanese love characters. If you have never been in Japan, I can tell you it will be more than you can imagine. The character business is so big, there are a huge number of characters, big name and not big name. We are especially weak for cute, small Tohoho chara. You would know Katamari Damacy, Pikmin, and those such game chara. My friend loves Qoo (coca cola Japan) and Pichon kun (Daikin) very much, very much, they are characters of company products.
I will get back to my original point of "Yuru chara". Yuru chara stands for Yurui character, it means "loose character" in literal translation. National and local public entities make their own characters to promote their event or campaign, planning to boost the development of the area or introduce their local special, but most of them are so odd and low-quality that we don't know wether we could call them cute or not. Here are samples of the central bureaucracy character. This is Koh-chan of National Personnel Authority. This is Mamoru kun and Ayumi chan of The Ministry of Justise. This is Umimaru and Umin of Japan Coast Guard. Hmm, our taxes were used for that too? I am not sure they were nessesarry.
Jun Miura named them "yuru chara" first, He is well know as "the representation of subculture in Japan" (I picked his site in this Yukata post). In fact, he named other things we didn't name, but apparently, we recognized something special "IYAGE MONO": " Miyage mono" means souvenirs, "iya" means hate, "Iyage mono" meanse souvenirs we are not happy to get like this stuff. "KASUHAGA" : "Kasu" means garbage, "haga" stand for "hagaki" meaning card, Kasuhaga means strange, senseless card in tourist place this.
Comparing it to companies' characters, the distinct profile of "Yuru chara" is that of varied quality, easy naming, special feeling of each organization, and weakness of existence (some characters disappear because of budget ax). So, we can see a strange but powerful aura full of pathos with yuru chara.
Miura had a "Yuru chara Show" before, then tonight TV chanpion will have it. Here is characters entried from each local area. Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Nagoya. Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu,
Hmm salmon Sake taro, half egg Hantama kun , fire work Na chan, orange waka-chan, Sudachi citrus fruit Sudachi kun, Totto chan.... What a cheap world...orz*