A mascot is an essential part of each brand: lets people connect with it, influences its recognition, humanises it, and so on. It's more important than people think. A well-made mascot can bring success with its own, tiny or large, hands. Since the very beginning, I wanted 46hana to have one as well - an original character that everyone can associate with us. One that immediately makes our Visual Novels pop up in someone's head upon laying eyes on it. One that was charming. One that... you get the gist. The journey was long and full of obstacles, but we've reached the destination; after the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears, our team's mascot's design is here. Meet Hanazawa Aoi, who will be accompanying us from here on!
Well no, you're not meeting her quite yet. Let's begin with a brief history lesson; the idea for a mascot was born on June 6, 2021 (and so was I, although a different year). Where did it come from? I couldn't tell you. That random idea appeared in my mind that morning and without hesitating gathered all the team members for some brainstorming. The concept itself was met with great approval, but the details would take a very long while, unbeknownst to us at the time. Starting off with the names, our mascot could have been called Hanazawa Aimi, Sakura, Kumiko, Aya, or Chika. Would those names be fine? Maybe, but we ended up choosing Aoi, translating to blue. Oh the special love I have for you, my baby blue. The first step was placed, with a million more yet on the way. That whole day was spent pondering, sketching, more pondering, and even more sketching, trying to put our colourful ideas into life. Needless to say, we haven't reached anything conclusive. There was a design, a basic one, but it would never lead to anything else. If you're curious, I'm posting that initial design right below.
So, we had our blue saber-face, but that was it. Radio silence. Months passed - still no illustrations, no backstory, nothing. Then suddenly, seeing Aoi, someone has decided to remake her, that someone being ven from our team. A huge remake for sure, as apparent below. But the key part was it actually brought us forward ever so slightly as emotes and other Aoi materials started being made.
However, that wasn't exactly it. A nice design for sure, but not particularly what we were looking for. Quickly enough, another opportunity for a redesign came up with the creation of our website around summer this year, and hell did we seize it. The task of drawing Hanazawa Aoi was given to Ari and Zehnn from our team who worked together on it while consulting with the rest of us regarding what we want her to look like. The day we would get to have an official mascot was almost within a hand's reach, and with each passing week the anticipation only got stronger. And recently, the design has finally been finished; meet Hanazawa Aoi, for real now.
Aoi is a shrine priestess living by herself in a shrine residence inherited from her parents, located in a small port town on an island. She is responsible for keeping the shrine grounds clean and carrying out various rituals during the island's festivals. She's vibrant and cheerful, the kind of person who would rush to help someone whenever needed. Having never left her hometown, she posseses great curiosity about the outside world, but tries not to excessively show it, staying rather reserved. What makes Aoi truly special is a certain condtion, an ability even, with which she is able to see from from others' eyes; the ability to see this world's stories, ranging from the mundane to the dramatic, funny, and ridiculous. With that in mind I'll go forward and drop a small sneak peek, that is our team mascot starring in a project of her own sooner or later. While I won't disclose more details, I hope you'll look forward to it regardless.