It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a … Jigglypuff?
Some Pokémon-themed airplanes are starting to appear in the skies in Japan.
Solaseed Airlines, a local carrier based on the Japanese island of Kyushu, debuted a Pokémon-painted plane on December 19. Its maiden flight was from Miyazaki City to Tokyo’s Haneda airport.
The plane is part of a tourism collaboration between The Pokémon Company (which owns and licenses the characters) and various regions of Japan. Miyazaki, on the eastern coast of Kyushu, is the eighth prefecture to join the partnership.
Each prefecture is assigned a dedicated Pokémon of its own. Miyazaki’s is Exeggutor, chosen because he resembles the phoenix palm tree that is native to the area, while the northern island of Hokkaido has the Alolan Vulpix (suited to cold weather, which is fitting for the snowy prefecture) and Fukushima is represented by pink-colored Chansey, who has powers of healing.
And it isn’t only the plane’s exterior that features Exeggutor. On board, the seats have Exeggutor head rests, and some passengers got special Exeggutor swag like pens and stickers.
For people who don’t have air travel in their plans, there are also Exeggutor-themed buses in Miyazaki City, Miyakonojo and Nobeoka, all within Miyazaki province. The special planes and buses will be operating through at least the end of 2021.
Liveries painted with popular characters are a fun tradition in the aviation industry. Jake, Finn and Princess Bubblegum from the popular TV show “Adventure Time” have appeared on Cartoon Network-branded planes on Thai Smile, a regional carrier in Thailand.
Meanwhile Japan’s ANA has the droids from the “Star Wars” franchise on some of its airplanes, and Taiwan’s Eva Air takes it one step beyond the sky with Hello Kitty-emblazoned planes and a branded airport lounge.