“Anyone” is not going anywhere.
That’s the official word from Hong Kong’s fire department, which this week introduced the preposterous mascot — a faceless, blue-suited man in black shorts — to jeers and eye-rolls, then quickly reversed course when a mooted axing of the character met with a surprising public outcry.
Yam Ho-yan, a pun on the Chinese word for “anybody” or “anyone,” became an unexpected viral hit when the Fire Services Department launched their official Facebook page during a press briefing on Monday, and called on the man in blue to help them demonstrate some basic fire safety techniques including CPR and how to use a fire extinguisher.
Here’s a reminder of just how weird that press briefing was:
But on Tuesday, RTHK TV program This Week cited sources from the fire department saying that the live version of “anyone” was “against the heroic image” of the service.
The source added that no one from the service anticipated “Anyone” stealing the spotlight that day (showing a deep lack of imagination on their part), and that from now it would only appear in cartoon form, like in this video posted on the fire department’s YouTube channel in May.
Shortly after that report aired, netizens flocked to the service’s Facebook page, urging the fire department to “save anyone” and called on others to “support anyone.”
Less than 24 hours later, Wade Wong Wang-leong — acting senior division officer for community emergency preparedness (CEP) — took to Commercial Radio today to confirm that ‘Anyone’ had not been axed, and would continue to make public appearances after all.
In a recording posted on HK01, Wong can be heard saying he was happy with the outpouring of public support for the blue man, and added: “I hope the public will continue following ‘Anyone’ in the future.”
When quizzed about who was underneath the lycra, Wong said “Anyone” was played by a staff member in his division, adding that they had deliberately picked someone with a bit of a belly to show that anyone can help in the event of a fire, no matter how fat or skinny or “skinny fat” you are.
He then went on to add: “‘Anyone, is not a mascot or spokesperson, you and I are Anyone, who can help out in the community during emergencies.”
Glorious in its corny sincerity.
As with any overnight sensation, our man “Anyone” soon became the subject of what the kids call memes.
Sony Hong Kong, for instance, posted this photo of the mascot taking a photo in the great outdoors, with the caption: “As long as you have a heart, and a camera, it doesn’t matter who you are… anyone can take a great photo!”
Playstation Hong Kong posted this photo of a pair of blue hands holding a gaming console, saying that “Anyone” enjoys playing on his games console, and reminded people to make sure their consoles don’t overheat when they’re playing a game on a PS4.
Even beer companies joined in on the fun. Carlsberg went with “Carlsberg don’t make mascots…”, while Blue Girl posted their photo under the caption: “Anyone who can enjoy a beer with me is one of us.”
Although both departments already have their own mascots, that didn’t stop either the Hong Kong Observatory or the Environmental Protection Department from joining in, when both posted images of their mascots — Dr Tin (a blue-haired creature that looks like the host from the Hunger Games), and Big Waster (a yellow-orange … thing) — sporting a blue suit similar to the one “Anyone” wears.
Even politicians managed to get in on the joke, with Labour Party candidate Lee Cheuk-yan — who is running in the upcoming by-election for Kowloon West on November 25 — posting this photo with the caption “anyone can support Lee Cheuk-yan.”