A spunky optimist and a bamboo-chewing outcast are finalists as the fresh face of Vancouver’s Chinatown.

A mascot competition, launched by the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Area (VCBIA), asks people to vote online for one of two cartoon pandas.

Albert Fok, president of VCBIA, said the mascots, developed in partnership with Definium Design, go by the concept names “Punkie” and “Muse.”

A subsequent naming contest will determine the name of the winner.

Each has a surprisingly detailed back-story. Punkie, for example, was outcast after he was chopped from the zodiac because of his orange punk mohawk. He moved to early Chinatown and is a big believer in diversity.

Fok said the idea for the mascot emerged several years ago during a visit to a Chinatown in one of Vancouver’s sister cities, Yokohama, Japan. A lot of the communities and regions were represented by mascots, he said.

For Chinatown, a panda was the obvious choice, Fok said, though a dragon was also considered.

He joked that he hopes they get a better reception than the recently unveiled iron-girder mascots of London 2012.