Some of the plushies she’s received show signs of…use.
Japan’s idol singer industry is built on cultivating the feeling of a personal connection between performers and their fans. While there are some idols with genuine musical talent, it’s usually not their singing voices that get fans to shell out tens of thousands of yen for concert tickets, merchandise, and multiple copies of the same CD, but the perception that their favorite idol is singing directly to them.
Of course, if you have a personal connection with someone, there’s nothing that strange about giving them a present, is there? Maybe not, but the fact that fans actually don’t have such a connection to the idols they adore can make for some pretty creepy choices of what sort of gifts they try to show their admiration with.
Kaori Matsumura, a member of Nagoya-based idol unit SKE48 (itself a sister group of AKB48) recently appeared on Ogiyahagi no Busu TV, a talk show that’s part of the Abema TV video streaming service. The 27-year-old said that, on multiple occasions, she’s received stuffed animals sent by fans.
That might seem like a pretty innocent present, but modern technology, combined with the obsessive, possessive nature of the darker extreme subsets of idol fans, means that Matsumura isn’t about to just toss these gifts on top of her bed and snuggle up with them as she falls asleep. The idol says she’s aware of the possibility that the sender may have hidden an audio or video recording device inside the gift, and so “I always hit the stuffed animals many times, and shake them violently to make sure there’s no device hidden inside.”
But while the desire to rain blows upon an unsolicited teddy bear in an attempt to shatter any unscrupulous machinery hidden within is understandable, it might not be all that effective. Being inside a plush toy means any hidden device has some extra cushioning, and along with the standard casing of the device itself, there’s no guarantee that Matsumura’s strikes are going to be powerful enough to break the gadget, if one exists.
The bigger problem, though, is that hitting and shaking the stuffed animals means Matsumura has to touch them with her hands, which isn’t something we’d recommend she do in light of her additional revelation that “Sometimes the stuffed animals have stains on them…Like, whitish-colored stains.”
It’s poor form to send a gift after you’ve been using it yourself, and especially poor form if you’ve been using for the purpose that certain anime figures are. Honestly, the next time Matsumura gets a stuffed animal in the mail, her best course of action is probably to immediately toss it into the trash…
…while, of course, wearing gloves when she makes the toss.
Casey requests that you not send him any stuffed animals, but if you want to follow him on Twitter, that’s cool.