Thursday, 20 June 2024

Pal-kun and the "Kopals

Dont even ask what it is. I dont think anyone has the slightest idea what it is supposed to be. The character hints at the team's main corporate sponsor, Japan Airlines, based on the wings where its ears are supposed to be, but that is about the best hint we can come up with. Somewhere around 1998, the Rising Sun News began using the term "Winghead" when describing the mascot and "Wingheads" to refer to S-Pulse fans. Somehow this moniker seems to have caught on in the mainstream English-language press (Copycats!). Although the mascot's official name is "PAL" (another not-so-vauge reference to "JAL").

Though he has never shown an interest in female companionship, in the mid-00s Pal-kun did attract two smaller versions of himself. They were dubbed the "Ko-pals" (little PALs). There were rumours in Shizuoka during 2013 and 2014, at the time when Shizuoka became one of the few prefectures officially recognizing same-sex unions, claiming that SPulse was going to announce that all three "Pals" are of the same gender (though without clarifying whether that meant male or female). Unfortunately the team's tailspin and relegation to J2 at the end of 2015 probably scotched that idea, but those fans who would be inclined to support a gay-friendly football team can just consider the mascots' names: Theyre all pals!

Shimizu S-Pulse -- Team Uniforms (1993-present)

Click on the small pictures to see a larger-size image

1993 (H) 1993 (H) 1994 (H) 1994 (H) 1995 (H) 1995 (A)
1997-98 (H) 1997-98 (H) 1999-00 (H) 1999-00 (A) 2001 (H) 2001 (A)
2002 (H) 2002 (A) 2003-04 (H) 2003-04 (A) 2005 (H) 2005 (A)
2006 (H) 2006 (A) 2007 (H) 2007 (A) 2008 (H) 2008 (A)
2009 (H) 2009 (A) 2010 (H) 2010 (A) 2011 (H) 2011 (A)
2012 (H) 2012 (A) 2013 (H) 2013 (A) 2014 (H) 2014 (A)
2015 (H) 2015 (A) 2016 (H) 2016 (A) 2017 (H) 2017 (A)
2018 (H) 2018 (A) 2019 (H) 2019 (A) 2020 (H) 2020 (A)
2021 (H) 2021 (A) 2022 (H) 2022 (A) 2023 (H) 2023 (A)