U18 Women’s Worlds go manga
by Martin Merk & JIHF|11 DEC 2018
The 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship logo proposed by the Japan Ice Hockey Federation was designed by Azusa Takaguchi and her team in the host city of Obihiro and gives the event a distinctively Japanese touch.
When the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship will be hosted in Obihiro on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, 6-13 January, fans will also enjoy a distinctively Japanese event logo and merchandise.

Last year in Dmitrov in the Moscow Region a Russian matryoshka doll gave the event logo a both female and local cultural touch. This time it won’t be different thanks to the event logo proposed by the Japan Ice Hockey Federation that has already started to please fans around the world who discovered it on the tournament’s website.

The core element of the logo is a young, female Japanese ice hockey player painted in the world-famous style of manga, a style of comics that originated in Japan about two centuries ago as some of the first comic books in the world.

Manga comic heroes can be female, male, adults, kids, animals, robots or other fantasy creatures, have often large, round eyes. The comics and later their animated counterpart anime gained fame and fans around the world and thus it was only fitting to integrate this aspect of Japanese culture into the logo of the first top-level IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship event ever to be hosted in Japan. (Japan was also host of two Olympic Winter Games, Sapporo 1972 and Nagano 1998.)

The WW18 logo was designed in the hope that fans associate it immediately with Japan and its culture.

Manga comics were originally drawn and published just in black and white like in this draft for the event logo:
The Japanese ice hockey heroine drawn by Azusa Takaguchi and her team is the core element of the event logo.
The model is a Japanese ice hockey player who was drawn in the style of Japanese anime characters according to the motto “two heads high and simple”. While the heroine looks cool, she’s skating with a puck with the aim of scoring a goal for her country. She looks mild and pretty with the manga touch despite ice hockey being a fast and tough sport.

The colours of the logo are purple, which is the standard colour of the U18 women’s category in the IIHF logo family, and red representing the fighting spirit of the heroine.

The logo includes additional distinctively Japanese elements such as the motif of sakura (cherry blossoms). Sakura is a very special flower in Japan and admired by Japanese. There are many songs in the country expressing the love for sakura and a Japanese proverb “sakura are the best among flowers, samurai the best among men“. It means cherry blossoms bloom and fall gracefully and in a short period of time – similar to the life of many Japanese warriors. In Japan, the flower also represents “spiritual beauty” and the gracefulness of women.

The logo does not only have a Japanese but also a local touch as it was designed by a project team of five people from an advertising agency in Obihiro, mainly Azusa Takaguchi. She has been drawing manga and anime figures for fun since she was a child and drew the hockey heroine with conscious about the “Cool Japan” campaign to promote Japanese culture abroad. The logo took four days to be completed.

“I hope you feel the sense of closeness to hockey even if you are not a hockey fan. Japan’s subculture is supporting hockey and I also hope the players will enjoy the games in Japan,” Takaguchi said.

To make sure they will enjoy their time in the land of the rising sun, Takaguchi did not only draw a Japanese ice hockey heroine but is working on additional designs to have each of the eight countries represented with national characteristics that the team researched. The players will see their own manga heroine in their countries’ colours at the arena while fans will have the opportunity to buy merchandise with the characters on-site in Obihiro.

“I hope people from each of the countries – USA, Sweden, Canada, Russia, Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Japan – make friendship forever through the wonderful sport of ice hockey, and also the anime characters,” Takaguchi said.