Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has chosen the Pokemon Vaporeon as the ambassador for the upcoming “Water Day,” an event based around raising awareness about water resources and conservation.
Vaporeon is just the latest pocket monster from Nintendo’s perennially popular franchise to be recruited by the Japanese government to promote special events and causes: fellow water-type Pokemon Lapras is the mascot for Miyagi prefecture’s public transportation system, while The Pokemon Company and the city of Yokohama team up annually to host a “Pikachu Outbreak” festival to encourage tourism to the area. It should be noted that the new “Water Day” that Vaporeon is promoting is a different event from Marine Day, a Japanese national holiday that celebrates the ocean and the resources it provides to the country and its people.
The Pokemon franchise first debuted in Japan in 1996 with the release of Game Freak’s Pocket Monsters: Red Version and Green Version for the original black-and-white Game Boy. Vaporeon was one of the original 151 Pokemon featured in this original release. The franchise debuted internationally in 1998 under the title Pokemon, which is based on the Japanese abbreviation of Pocket Monsters. The video games, anime series and the licensed trading card game were all immediate hits worldwide, and the series has maintained that popularity for the past 30 years with dozens of new games on different consoles, over a thousand episodes of the anime, and almost 90 expansion sets to the card game. The most recent game in the franchise, Pokemon Unite, combines the series’ iconic monsters with competitive MOBA-style gameplay, and was released for Nintendo Switch on July 21, with an iOS and Android release planned for September.