For years, Americans have gazed longingly at Japan and its plethora of adorable mascot characters. We stared at bird train conductors, food-based moon rabbits, and “a big stone that’s alive,” wondering when we’d get such personalities here in the States. It seems the Bay Area heard our cries, because Bay Area Rapid Transit is now represented by four anime waifus.
The mascots are “inspired by BART frontline employees and BART-contracted animals,” which is about as good a basis for transit mascots as you’ll ever see. Each of the four were designed by separate artists, and all have their own names, personalities, and favorite boba flavors. It’s the Bay Area, after all.
First up is Baylee, described as “The G.O.A.T” after her inspiration — actual, real-life goats that BART contracts to keep grasses under control. I’m not really sure how goats relate to Baylee’s careers as a social media influencer and tour guide, but maybe that informs her apparently deep-seated hatred of the LA Rams. Her favorite boba flavor is blueberry, in case you couldn’t tell from her whole color scheme.
That color scheme, along with much of Baylee’s overall design, seems to be inspired by Hatsune Miku. The black thigh-high socks, the white dress over black sleeves, the long bright blue hair — yes, technically Miku has a white shirt over a black dress, but I’m counting it. The obvious reasoning here would be that Yokura (the artist behind Baylee’s design) was inspired by Miku’s aesthetic, but I’d like to propose an alternate explanation: Baylee herself adopted a Miku-style look in an attempt to gain a social media following. She’s an influencer, after all.
Next is Nimbus, who dresses like the single most anime attendee at the ren faire. She’s the “Bard of BART,” a “storyteller and historian,” and she carries a hawk around on her arm. She likes touching grass, and runs a secret library hidden in the hills of Northern California. I would kill or die for her.
I’m honestly not really sure what a bard’s role is in the world of public transit. Nimbus is inspired by a hawk named Pac-Man, which BART “contracts” to scare off pigeons, so maybe her spell slots are full up on things like Confusion, Charm Monster, Fear, and Shout. High level spells, sure, but I figure Nimbus is likely fairly high level herself — based on both the quality of her gear, and the fact that she’s likely multi-classed into Druid to get that animal companion. Does that mean she’s also BART’s healer, or does she largely rely on a party buff style with her Bard base class?
Jasmine is a zoomer NUMTOT and transit fangirl. She carries what appear to be plushies of the other mascots around in her train-shaped bag, and adorns her outfit with pins of busses, trains, and suspiciously Kirby-shaped ice cream cones. Her hair is dyed in the colors of BART’s lines, a level of stan culture dedication few of us will ever achieve.
Jasmine is a cosplayer, and would almost certainly have done a spot-on Jade Harley back in the day. Unfortunately, she’s canonically a high schooler, meaning she likely missed the boat on that cosplay entirely. What are the kids watching now? Maybe she’s got an Aoi Amawashi outfit she’s working on? A perfect Bridget, complete with handcuff belt and yo-yo? Is she a Makima cosplayer? I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was, and now what I’m with isn’t it any more.
What are the zoomers cosplaying?
Last up on the Waifu Watch is Mira, seemingly the only one of the group to actually be employed by BART. She’s described as “serious, by the book, industrious, takes time to warm up.” Mira doesn’t get an established flavor of boba tea as her favorite, but the pin on her unused suspenders looks to me like brown sugar milk tea. I am making this a headcanon until proven wrong.
Mira absolutely runs an Overwatch five stack like it’s the Navy. She only plays comp, eschews game comms in favor of Discord, and has a specific group setup where every member knows their role. Mira mains tank; she prefers playing Orisa but has settled on Junker Queen for the meta. Her Mercy pockets her hard, and her DPS actually protects their healer. If you queue against her, you have already lost. Omae wa mou shindeiru.
BART’s mascots will make their debut at FanimeCon later this month, and pop up at other events after that. If you’re in the Bay Area, see if you can get ahold of any of them, and ask about the various headcanons I’ve made up here. I’m very intrigued to know Baylee’s favorite Miku tracks.