The Israeli Foreign Service, in their efforts to boost Japanese tourism to Israel has done something unexpected — producing seven episodes of anime on YouTube called “Israel Daisuki!” or “Israel Like!” According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, less than 10,000 Japanese tourists visited the country this year.
Complete with a cute parrot mascot wearing a Star of David on its head called Shalom-Chan, the series chronicles the adventures of two female Japanese tourists who also happen to be siblings (Saki & Noriko), starting from the Ben-Gurion airport in Israel. At first, the sisters thought the nation was nothing more than a patch of desert, but slowly realise that the country is modern, safe and bountiful with the finest wine. There is a scene where the two sisters enjoy an Israeli version of sushi.
The series is meant to introduce facts about Israel to Japan, according to the Ministry. Shalom-Chan who carries an olive branch, is working hard to promote peace as Israeli’s goodwill ambassador, according to the mascot’s official biography site. The mascot provides facts about the country from population to perception of Israel in Japan.
Back in June 2014, the Israeli Embassy at Japan held a competition for a mascot and Shalom-Chan was selected in the end to represent this effort.
Manganimation was hired to produce the videos. The reactions to the effort in Japan are mixed, some are angry and bitter due to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian issue; while others are waiting for next episode of the Youtube videos.
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