Square Enix, the Japanese gaming company behind the Final Fantasy series and the Disney-infused Kingdom Hearts series as well as the distributor of the bisexual representative Life is Strange series, has created a mascot to celebrate Pride month.
Square Enix announced the new Pride mascot on its official website. The character is a rainbow-colored bird-like creature designed by Toshiyuki Itahana, who helped design Final Fantasy IX, the Crystal Chronicles series, and the Chocobo spin-off series. Currently, no name has been assigned to the character, but Square Enix has expressed the character’s creation was a sign of their support.
This #PrideMonth, we wanted to do something special to show our support for the LGBTQ+ community.
— Square Enix (@SquareEnix) June 25, 2020
Itahana then left a statement about the character’s creation:
“The character represents diversity and freedom, with its multitude of colours being the diversity aspect and the trainers and wings that allow it to travel anywhere symbolizing freedom. I designed this character hoping that the world can become even more free and diverse in the future.”
But is this creature’s creation just lip-service? On some part, yes. It goes along with many other companies that express pro-LGBTQ views during June and then do nothing to support LGTBQ people afterward.
But the very fact that a Japanese video game company, and a well-known one at that, has expressed LGBTQ support is significant. LGBTQ rights within Japan are on the rise but are still struggling to reach new heights. Gay marriage is only accepted in some high populated regions such as a few districts of Tokyo. In addition, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is only banned in certain cities.
Having a popular gaming company release a pro-LGBTQ messaged and character is a big deal. So while we can’t totally rule this out as a publicity stunt, we CAN be pleasantly surprised by their support. And, that’s something to celebrate.