Otaku love conquers all.
If you’re an anime fan who’s ever had to divest yourself of a portion of your otaku-related possessions, you know how hard the process can be. Still, stay in the fandom long enough, and eventually you’re likely to run into circumstances that compel you to part ways with some beloved piece of Japanese animation memorabilia.
That’s a transition the animals at Saitama Prefecture’s Tobu Zoo recently had to go through. Since April, the zoo’s inhabitants have been sharing the facility with a series of cardboard cutouts of the animal-girl characters from surprise hit anime Kemono Friends. The displays were put up to encourage human anime fans to visit, but one of Tobu Zoo’s actual Humbuldt penguins, Grape-kun, developed a crush on the cutout of Kemono Friends’ anthropomorphized penguin Hululu.
However, the Kemono Friends promotion ended on June 25, which meant the zoo’s animals would be saying good-bye to their anime friends. Japanese Twitter user @kishida46 stopped by on the final day, but when he struck up a conversation with one of the zookeeper’s about Grape-kun, he got a heartwarming piece of news.
エサやりタイムと聞いてペンギン達が続々と集まっていく中、推しの元を離れないオタクの鑑。 ところで今日で東武動物公園のけもフレコラボは終わりなのでフレンズパネルは撤去されるはずですが、フルルのパネルだけはグレープ君のために暫定的に… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…—
岸田シロ＠アザラシのフレンズ (@kishida46) June 25, 2017
While all of the other characters’ artwork has been taken down, the Hululu cutout will be remaining at the zoo indefinitely to keep Grape-kun happy.
Tobu Zoo has stopped short of saying that Grape-kun’s anime girl of choice will be a permanent fixture at the facility. Since the original plan was only for the artwork to be on display for two months, it’s likely not made of sturdy enough material to be left outside for years and years without cracking or fading, and the zookeeper @kishida46 spoke with said that Hululu’s cutout may be taken down without notice in the future. Still, for the time-being, it’s good to know that Grape-kun can still turn to his anime waifu to help ease the pain of being dumped by his real-life wife.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he wonders where he put that box of 10-dollar Song May anime soundtrack CDs.