It seems to be that moe girls, those cute, sometimes slightly sexualized, doe-eyed animated characters, have spread from their origin in Japan throughout Asia. Not only have we seen them being used to mock government initiatives in Indonesia. In Taiwan, they’ve been employed extensively as subway mascots, and now the Department of Technology in Taipei has joined the moe bandwagon with 230-chan.
Kumamon is the official mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture in southern Japan. Since his debut in 2010, he’s become wildly popular, appearing in all kinds of media and lending his face to uncountable products. By some estimates, he’s pulling down hundreds of billions of yen a year. He’s given a guest lecture at Harvard, despite being mute, and has even met the imperial couple.
But despite this blessed existence, even mascots have bad days. And being in the public eye, those bad days are immortalized on film.
When it comes to food, presentation is everything, especially in Japan. You only have to stroll through a department store’s food floor to see how beautifully packaged and arranged everything is. And DIY food decorating is something that a lot of people really get into, whether it’s kyara-ben, deco-nabe, or artfully arranged curry rice.
And speaking of curry rice, here’s how to create an eye-catching deco-curry featuring one of Japan’s most beloved and cuddly mascot characters, Rilakkuma!
When you think about Japan’s obsession with the yuru-kyara, you will notice a few pretty common characteristics between the mascots, especially when looking at the past grand prix winners. Kumamon, Sanomaru, Gunma-chan, and Bary-san are all large, cute, fuzzy and somewhat aloof. Which is why it’s so strange to see one of the newest yuru-kyaras to debut.
Warabi Maiko-chan doesn’t seem that cute or fuzzy. In fact, whatever characteristics this new mascot is supposed to have, we can clearly say, we can see right through her.
A new superhero has arrived to save the people of Osaka from evildoers. This is great because just the other day some savage left an empty can in my bicycle’s basket while I parked it.
Unfortunately for me, his beat is just on the Rapi:t express train running between downtown’s Namba Station and Kansai International Airport. But if you happen to find trouble on the way to or from KIX there’s only one name to call out for help: Rapi…Ra…Rapee-itl-dee-yer!!?
Last year, Taiwanese netizens went gaga when one of the local subway systems, the Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit (KMRT), introduced two moe mascots to liven up their stations. The two anime girls, Xiao Qiong and Emilia, stirred up such a huge sensation, it seemed as if they were the only example of their kind in the country, but Taiwan has more moe than that!
If moe culture is your cup of tea, you’ll probably like this because we’ve got more Taiwanese anime mascots after the jump!
Taiwan has their cute rail mascot, and now China’s getting in on the act, too. Originally doujinshi characters, these anthropomorphised moe anime versions of high-speed trains have now made their debut at an official rail event. Read on to see the cosplaying cuties and their 2-D counterparts.
The Kyaraben trend is still going strong in Japan, and even though winter has prompted some to make the temporary switch to deco-nabe, the demand for adorable packed lunches shows no signs of abating. Today we’d like to take a look back over the best of the past year’s Kyaraben. What can we learn about 2014 in Japan from studying these perfect works of edible art?
Recently, we’ve brought you several articles detailing the meteoric rise of new franchise Youkai Watch as it continues to steal fans and attention away from the much-loved institution that is Pokémon. Die-hard Pokémon fans out there may feel safe in the assumption that Youkai Watch, being more traditionally “Japanese” in feel, will never match the success of Pokémon in the West. Be that as it may, we now have conclusive evidence that Pikachu’s time in the Japanese sun is well and truly over as new champion Jibanyan ascends his throne. Join us after the jump for proof!
Picture the scene: “Hey, Suzuki-san, we’ve got a special job for you! Inside this box is a Mini Titan costume. This week, you’re going to go around the big anime and manga shops in Tokyo promoting the new Attack on Titan exhibition.”
Suzuki-san runs to the box containing the costume and rips it open excitedly. His face falls…for the creature he finds within is the oddest, ugliest Titan the world has ever seen.
The inimitable Mr. Sato is such a big fan of Funasshi, the unofficial jiggly pear mascot of Funabashi City, that he even created his own mascot-to-the-mascot, Satosshi. This Halloween, Satosshi decided to head down to the famous Shibuya crossing to make friends with fellow costume-wearing Tokyoites.
Might there be other, kindred spirit Funasshi fans there? Will Satosshi be busted as an unofficial impersonator? Could Mr. Sato’s journalistic efforts be thwarted by a sudden attack of deadline confusion? And worse still, what if no one recognises him? Join us after the jump for a photo report from Satosshi’s big night out.
Have you ever wondered how Kumamon suddenly burst into the spotlight back in 2011? It was the result of his victory in the national mascot character contest, the Yuru-kyara Grand Prix. The contest has been held every year since 2010 and Kumamon was the first major winner in 2011.
Voting for the annual contest runs from August to October every year and people are eligible to vote for their favorite character (usually the one representing their town or prefecture) once a day for the duration of the contest. Well, the results for the 2014 contest are finally in, and it looks like a certain entrant took the win by a nose.
Earlier this year, we brought you the news that Japan’s wacky anti-piracy ads have turned into something of a cultural phenomenon, with body-popping mascots Camera Otoko and Patrol Lamp Otoko getting their own range of figurines. Now a new ad has been released, which features extra characters Popcorn Otoko and Soda Otoko. But what role do they have to play in this mini crime drama, besides providing delicious refreshment?
Say what you will about ‘yuru-kyara‘ – the marketing idea that can be basically summed up as Japan’s “let’s have a cartoon mascot for EVERYTHING!” philosophy – but the vast majority of those funny characters adopted by prefecture and town tourism boards across the nation are nothing if not cute!
Take Princess Miyako, character mascot of Miyako-machi in Fukuoka Prefecture. Designed by illustrator Shiitake, Princess Miyako is the picture of youthful elegance: her fresh purple and green tones are even modelled after the town’s iris flowers.
It’s one thing to design a beautiful anime character in two dimensions. But when that mascot gets transformed into a three-dimensional character costume, bad things can happen. Bad, bad things…
Over the years the mascot industry in Japan has swelled considerably. An uncountable number of people in big-headed costumes currently represent the nation’s prefectures, cities, government offices and private companies. Then on top of all that we have independent mascots running around too like Funasshi and Teruhiko.
However, the editors at RocketNews24 feel they have come up with something that will bring the entire mascot world down to its knees. His name is Hard Ku**mon and he is prepared to do something that no other mascot has done before: actual labor.
If recent reports are to be believed, tatami, the traditional Japanese flooring made of soft rush straw, may soon be a thing of the past as people begin to favor easier-to-clean western style flooring. It’s really a shame because there’s nothing quite like the smell and natural feel of tatami under your toes. We’ve already seen novel attempts at spicing up the traditional mats with LED lights, but we’re hoping they’ll have more success with these cute decorative tatami featuring Kumamoto Prefecture’s official bear mascot, Kumamon.
Have you been wondering what Japan’s favorite mascot has been up to lately? Who, you say? Why, Funasshi, of course, Japan’s squiggly wiggly pear mascot from Funabashi City in Chiba! After rocketing to fame and winning Japan’s top mascot honors in 2013, Funasshi has been touring Japan and the world! Its latest trip was to report for Fuji TV’s “World’s Best Of Picture Show: Top Research“. Find out all the American locations a gyrating pear looks out of place in after the jump.
If you went to your town council meeting in your country and told them you wanted to make a cutesy mascot to represent your city, you’d probably get a few smirks from the council members. If you further told them that the character would be androgynous and hardly recognizable as any particular animal, you’d get a few laughs. Then, if you told them it didn’t even need to have a mouth, that it could be frumpy and clutsy, and that this could be a main draw to your town, you’d have been laughed out of the town hall right then and there.
But this is Japan, where characters are biiiig business. The Japanese have taken the concept of Mickey Mouse, Snoopy and The Muppets to a whole new level. With huge success. And now, one junior high school student is hoping to tap into the power of the mascot character to achieve something far more noble trying to get rich: reviving her community and bringing much-needed tourism to the tiny island on which she lives. But she needs your help.
This, RocketNews24 reader, is your chance to get involved in Japan’s mascot frenzy! Submit a character idea to represent this small Japanese island–and who knows, maybe your idea will be chosen! Interested? Read on!
From December of last year until this February, Tottori City held an open call for mascot ideas for a character to represent the Tottori Castle ruins. The ruins were named one of Japan’s 100 notable castles and have enjoyed an influx of tourists.
The mascot idea which came in second place was Katsue-san, the starving farm girl. When the announcement of Kazue hit, the internet lit up with excitement. However, she mysteriously disappeared from the Tottori City website soon after.