Usually these characters are created to appeal to the Japanese love of 'cuteness.' They're silly and/or adorable. かわいい, they say.
Take Kumamon - the official mascot character of Kumamoto prefecture. He's been traveling a lot recently both domestically and overseas to promote his hometown. And boy he is popular. Look at his cute, red cheeks.
You know, there's another famous bear mascot character in Japan. Behold:
"Aww, it's so cute!" you say, in your mind if not aloud. I know your thoughts. And yes, it is a cute little toy. This is Melon Bear, the mascot for Yubari city in Hokkaido, renowned for its delicious melons. Now brace yourself and behold once again:
|Direct your blame here.|
This is the real Melon Bear biting the sh*t out of Kumamon. Sweet Lord. It's like they figured there was too much competition in the "cute mascot" arena, so they just said screw it and went for "disturbing nightmare-inducing aberration" instead.
I guess the Hokkaido guys get a kick out of it, and to be honest their blatant disregard for what their countrymen find to be appealing or sane marketing might convince me to buy one of their melons if I were still living over there.
And don't worry about old Kumamon. It turns out there was a reckoning of sorts. I guess that photo up above must have been a Melon Bear sneak attack. Here's how it turned out:
Gotta love Japan.