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Gunma-Chan Anime Shelved After Depicting Gambling, Deemed Unsuitable For Children

Gunma-chan anime depicts gambling 

How soon is too soon to introduce children to the realities of the world? An episode of the popular anime Gunma-chan, which involved powerboat-racing and betting, was pulled from broadcast after it was deemed that the depiction of gambling was unsuitable for children and a bad influence.

Who is Gunma-chan?

gunmachan - anime title
Image adapted from: AscensionStudios

Gunma-chan is the well-loved mascot of the Gunma prefecture and the titular character of the anime series Gunma-chan. The popular mascot got its own anime series in October 2021, airing on Gunma TV and multiple channels across Japan. 

gunmachan - friends
Image adapted from: AscensionStudios

Gunma-chan is a sweet little pony who spends his time gallivanting around the Gunma Prefecture with his friends, introducing viewers to the many sights and wonders of Gunma, such as the Kusatsu Hot Springs at Sainokawara Park. 

Gambling scandal in Gunma-chan

The episode that was pulled from broadcast showcased Gunma-chan going to the boat races with an older horse affectionately called Oji-san. 

Oji-san begins by winning a lot of money betting on the races, but soon gets swept up in all the excitement and ends up losing so much money that both Oji-san and Gunma-chan cannot afford the train fare home. They only make it home after someone gives Oji-san a tip on the last race, and he wins enough money to cover the transport fare. 

Gambling is a major taboo in Japan, with there being only four legal gambling avenues – horse racing, powerboat racing, motorcycle racing, and bicycle racing. Even then, these legal forms of gambling, as well as anything resembling gambling, is associated with being of lower social standing or a nuisance to society. 

gunmachan - gambling
Powerboat racing (left) and horse racing (right).
Image adapted from: @tadashi.yamamoto.5243 and @tadashi.yamamoto.5243

Hence, the episode of Gunma-chan was heavily criticised as many believed that depicting something as unseemly as gambling in a series for young audiences was extremely inappropriate. 

Others, however, thought that it was an apt way to showcase the realities of how the world worked. They defended the creators of the anime series by saying that there were worse influences out there. 

Pseudo-gambling activities popular in Japan, such as gacha machines, blind loot boxes, trading card games, pachinko, cultivate similar gambling habits. Worse still, these activities aren’t regulated.

gunmachan - pachinko parlour
Pachinko parlours in Japan
Image credit: @victorlicious553

Gunma-chan anime criticised for depicting gambling

With Japan’s general aversion to all things related to gambling, it is not surprising that viewers reacted so negatively to a family-friendly show depicting such a controversial topic. It remains to be seen whether it was truly wrong of the creators of Gunma-chan to include such a scene in the anime.

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Cover image adapted from: @gunma_gunmachan and @tadashi.yamamoto.5243