Monday, September 6, 2010

The one and only Anpanman!

I think it comes as no surprise that the Japanese in general are very fond of cartoon characters (in case there is any doubt you can take a look at my previous investigations into the subject here).

The country is full of these more or less crappy characters, most of which are very local in nature and of limited interest, but there are a category of more popular characters. Without any form of survey, investigation or real knowledge behind it, I would go as far as to say that the leading characters in Japan are (in no order of importance):

  • Hello Kitty

  • Pooh
  • Doraemon

  • Anpanman

  • Miffy

  • Doraemon

  • Pokemon

Common for all of the above is that they are all more than just a merchandising decoration even if their origin differs (e.g. Doraemon was a comic from the start, Hello Kitty was invented as a "cute" mascot, Pokemon started in the video game series). But you can find everything from toys, cartoons, comics and video games featuring these popular mascots these days.

Although you could likely segment most of the above according to popularity in age, boys vs. girls, tweens, "grown" people etc. there is one of these who have a unique position in the Japanese market. Of course I'm talking about the one and only Anpanman. Anpanman and his stooges completely dominate the character market for the younger ages (say 2~5 year old toddlers). I find the character disturbing in many ways and for a grown person it is hard to see the appeal this surreal character and his buddies hold for the toddler, but his grip is extremely strong. In fact, on of our neighbors have a daughter around a year old, who has yet started to speak except for one word; "Anpanman!", which came before "mommy" or "daddy".

I fear for the time when Anpanman will casts his spell on Baby Sunshine...

14 comments:

Corinne said...

Ash is yet to say "Mummy" but refers to Anpanman as "Papa" which is ironic and freaky really, perhaps a man with sweet shit for brains is more a father figure to him than anyone else...

RMilner said...

Anpanman is awesome.

illahee said...

i managed to keep anpanman out of the house until this year. my kids are five, three (just turned four last week) and two. i'm actually patting myself on the back....of course, it helps that we don't watch tv at home, except for the occasional chibi maruko-chan (which, i confess, confuses me) and sazae-san.

at first i thought anpanman (the program) was cute and funny, but after the fifth episode it was just annoying and stupid. *sigh* at least it keeps the kids quiet for a few minutes!

z-chan said...

I'm a preschool teacher and think Anpanman is a really bad example for kids - we have students going around hitting others because they are told "an....punch!" is ok! Grr...

Martin said...

Wow, my kid also sometimes hits his mates in preschool. And he has never been exposed to Anpanman.

Anpanman must have an extremely powerful influence or something...

jlpt2kyu said...

I watched anpanman and was amazed to find one of the characters (probably anpanman) eating a piece of his own head.

It was like a scene from Hannibal, or some gross otaku eating his own dandruff flakes on the train.

big bro said...

You are working hard to influence your niece to be indoctrinated to Anpanman!

ThePenguin said...

I once had the pleasure of travelling on the Anpanman Train in Shikoku, and it was like tripping without having to go to the trouble of sourcing some actual mushrooms.

ThePenguin said...

Previous link should be: Anpanman Train

Mr. Salaryman said...

Corinne - Wow, that is quite disturbed indeed! If I were your husband, I would feel seriously threatened by this competition...

Rmilner - Yep, he's pretty great

Illahee - I don't think I'll even put up much of a fight, as far as kids characters goes I think he's pretty benign. Maruko chan and Sazae san is a bit too advanced for the kids, aren'T they?

Z-Chan - Well, it's not really that violent, but I guess there's always hello kitty for those that shun violence. I've seen a great episode where she pees in her diapers and has mummy help her out.

Martin - Well, this is where you are wrong! Your kid HAS been exposed to Anpanman through the toys I gave him; thus he hits the other kids!

Jlpt - Ok, I agree, the cannibalism and how they bake new heads and stuff is a bit disturbing indeed.

Big Bro - Yep, I'll keep it coming!

Penguin - Excellent - everyone, go check out Penguins link to read up on the Anpanman. But maybe, somehow I have the feeling that you weren't the main target segment for that train? But hope you enjoyed it!

Michelle said...

have you seen that commercial where a grown-up Hello Kitty (played by a human woman with drawn-on whiskers) goes to New York to follow her dreams of being in the Cats musical? The first time I saw it, I thought it was a reality TV show.

Gaijin Wife said...

hmmmmm. love anpanman - purely for fact that it keeps my two and four year old quiet between 6 and 7pm - when I am trying to do shit like bathing the baby and washing the dishes. Tis a bit disturbing that he keeps needing a new head but the baker is a very cheerful chap and very competent and always has a new head out of the oven in less than 43 seconds.

think the punching really isn't any worse than Gargamel (??) trying to eat the smurfs.

Mr. Salaryman said...

Michelle - Yeah, actually saw it once when I was half watching and found it quite confusing and didn't really figure out what it was about...

Gaijin Wife - The smurfs? Wow, that's something to chew on, I don't think they could get away with stuff like the black evil smurfs at this day and age...

Fernando said...

O don´t know...TV that promotes violence is overrated. I grew up watching Super Agent Cobra, the dude with a laser gun for hand and Arbegasu. Now that was violent and I grew quite well

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