What: Manga (?) style signs reminding people in a smoking area that smoking on the streets is prohibited.
Where: In the smoking section of Ebisu station
Hardly anywhere else is smoking more heavily regulated that in Japan, especially with the prevalence of smoking areas, smoking seats, fines for littering cigarette butts. However, that isn’t the interesting part about these two posters. From a semiotic perspective, we must evaluate exactly who they’re targeting and what they’re trying to communicate. On a very basic level, they’re targeting natives as well as three different kinds of foreigners as the languages used on the sign are Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. They are also targeting commuters; the signs are posted outside of a train station. Furthermore, they’re targeting smokers in particular because these posters were inside of a smoking area. However, what are they (Nippon Design Welfare College) trying to communicate by using what I can only assume are original characters presumably designed just for this purpose. Who are they targeting? If they were trying to appeal to the manga/anime/otaku culture fans, wouldn’t it make more sense to use well known characters, or even local mascots? Are they aiming for some sort of kawaii aspect? Maybe, just like the Kabuki Eyes (which I maintain are the epitome of visual communication), signs are just more effective if you can put a face to them.