Japan has 47 versions of McGruff the Crime Dog, and they range from sentient dinosaurs to miniature swan people right out of Gatchaman to manimal twins who hate drunk driving.
Edward Harrison, co-author of the Japanese mascot book Idle Idol, has alerted us to his collection of police mascots that represent Japan's prefectures. The mascots include such characters as Hokkaido's rabbit-owl-horse-fox-man and a lightsaber-wielding owl.
Here are some of those mascots — I really hope that somewhere in Japan, there is a public safety film of two law-enforcing rice grains kicking down drug dealers' doors and cuffing perps.
These two, possibly Gatchaman inspired are the police mascots for Aomori prefecture. The siblings take on the appearance of a type of swan called Bewick's Swan which is a symbol of the prefecture.
The wild goose and the Miyagi bush clover (Lespedeza) are two symbols of Miyagi prefecture, both of which are incorporated into the police mascot. Miyagi-kun holds the clover in his hand which is acting as an antenna for his radio. He was born on the June 1, 1992.
P-gull's name comes from the ‘P' in police and ‘gull' the bird symbol of Kanagawa. P-gull has wings protruding from his helmet, these are special ears which help the character hear the voice of citizens and it even catches their dreams. The white of his costume represents the seagull, the blue the sea and the yellow the feeling of warmth.
Ajisai Seyano & Keyaki Seyano
Also from Kanagawa this pair don't represent the prefecture but just a small ward (suburb) of Yokohama called Seya (1 of 18 in the city) [...] Ajisai the girl on the left is easygoing and likes sweets, while her brother Keyaki is cheerful and enjoys his job working in the traffic department arresting drunken drivers. Matt Alt has written an interesting piece on the pair on CNNGO.
Fukui prefecture is the location for Japans only dedicated dinosaur museum and considered one of the best three in the world. Fukui is also the location for the Kitadani Dinosaur Quarry, which has yielded many interesting discoveries. His name comes from kyourue (恐竜) which means dinosaur in Japanese, the second kanji (ryu) which appears in the word means dragon. The pi at the end of the name… yup you guessed it stands for police and people.
Fuu-kun & Kei-chan
The smiling siblings from Osaka both have the letter ‘V' on their hats which stands for vitality. They also have a red light on top which is said to expresses their attitude for coping with emergency at any time.
Found all over Okinawa, the Shisa is a traditional decoration that is placed on roofs and outside villages, homes and temples. It is a cross between a lion and a dog, and is often found in pairs, one with its mouth open and one closed. The Shisa with an open mouth wards off evil spirits while the other keeps the good spirits in.
Hikaru-kun & Hikari-chan
Koshihikari is a popular variety of rice cultivated in Japan and the subject of Niigata's two police mascots. The Koshihikari produced in Niigata is considered by many to be the best rice in the world and has a suitably expensive price tag.