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  • Japan.

  • A land of contrasts.

  • A land where ancient customs and rituals coincide with-

  • oh my god, is that a bear with a melon for a head?!

  • What's that panda doing with that tongue?

  • And what the devil is that!? Jesus!

  • What, with Halloween fast approaching I wanted to make a video

  • on something truly shocking and disturbing.

  • And whilst my face alone would usually fit that description,

  • this year, time and again, I've come across Japanese mascot characters

  • that look like they've been ripped out of Stephen King's imagination.

  • So, today, I want to show you just how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

  • I've assembled ten of the most obscene and disturbing characters

  • that I've found on my travels around the country.

  • But the first thing you need to know is Japanese mascots, known as 'Yurukyara',

  • are big business in Japan.

  • Not that long ago, I was passing through Kyushu in the south

  • when I came face-to-face with the richest mascot in the country:

  • Kumamon the bear, who is said to be worth a billion dollars to the local economy,

  • originally conceived to promote Kumamoto Prefecture when a new bullet train line opened in 2010.

  • In 2011, he was ranked as the number one yurukyara in all of Japan,

  • with his newfound fans snapping up every manner of Kumamon-branded paraphernalia

  • they could get their hands on.

  • Meanwhile, Kumamon the superstar traveled the country on horseback,

  • and mingling with the rich and famous.

  • At first, I couldn't understand how a simple mascot, designed to promote a public initiative,

  • had gone on to become so ubiquitous and popular around the country.

  • And it wasn't until I spoke to a Japanese mascot expert that it all became a lot clearer.

  • [Ryotaro-- I mean, Roger Takeshi speaking Japanese with a heavy accent.]

  • After Kumamon's raging success, the game had changed

  • and now you can scarcely walk down the street in Japan without bumping into a character

  • who's become the sentient manifestation of a product, a place, or a public initiative.

  • Case in point: trying to promote Bollywood movies to a Japanese audience?

  • Try Naanko-chan, a walking talking piece of naan bread.

  • Running an anti-drugs campaign, but want to make it fun?

  • Meet 'No Dora-kun', a knotted blue syringe with an awkward slogan on the front:

  • 'No drug,

  • know drug.'

  • Hell, even Amazon has its own character:

  • 'Pochi the dog', which is a dog made out of cardboard boxes.

  • ... I quite like that one.

  • Some places have gone the extra mile and actually turned real life animals into their mascot.

  • A few years ago I presented a documentary about Japan's cats obsession,

  • and for one segment we went to the prefecture of Wakayama, just outside of Osaka,

  • to feature an astounding story about a cat called 'Tama-chan'.

  • A struggling railway station had adopted a stray cat,

  • put it in a hat and turned it into a stationmaster to greet arriving passengers.

  • It sounds really quite clever, but all they've done was put a cat in a hat and stick it on a pedestal by the entrance.

  • 55,000 people in the first year came to see the cat,

  • and it generated 10 million dollars for the local economy, all to see a slightly bemused cat in a hat.

  • It begs the question: why the fuck didn't I think of that myself?

  • In fact, so inspired was I by the story of Tama-chan, I went out and bought my very own cat mascot:

  • Mr Snuggles.

  • ...whose subsequent appearances led to an increase in views, subscribers, likes and comments.

  • It seemed like the good times were never gonna end.

  • ... And then lots of viewers pointed out that Mr Snuggles looked a little bit like Hitler.

  • And, begrudgingly, I had to fire him before viewers thought I had some sort of... malicious, hidden agenda.

  • Though, this afternoon, I do think I might have found...

  • I think I might've found an alternative.

  • I was wandering aimlessly through a shopping mall

  • when I came face-to-face with a cheeky looking toy called 'DJ Bear'.

  • I'm not sure what it was that drew me to the character.

  • Maybe it was the cumbersome expression on the front saying,

  • "I copy what you said!"

  • ... or perhaps it was simply his deeply unnerving expression.

  • Either way, here he is - DJ Bear!

  • What I like about this is, unlike Mr Snuggles, who was just, in effect, an inanimate object,

  • DJ Bear can actually move and do something.

  • So he can potentially provide an invaluable contribution.

  • [To DJ Bear] 'Hello'

  • [An amazingly awful remix with Chris' 'hello'.]

  • Chris: *breathes*--- [DJ Bear plays the same remix music again]

  • [and it continues...]

  • ... What a twat.

  • [This time, an enlightening remix with just the word 'twat'.]

  • On the island of Hokkaido, there's a town called Yubari,

  • famous for having the most obscenely expensive melons on the planet:

  • Yubari King melon.

  • But how expensive can a melon really be, you ask?

  • Well, this year, two Yubari King melons went for $45,000!

  • 5 million yen for some fruit! Two melons!

  • I don't get it, and whilst I'd like to tell you the real horror in this story is the melons going to $45,000,

  • the town of Yubari cashed in on this melon craze by creating a fun-loving, cute, cuddly mascot,

  • know only as: Melon Bear.

  • Half melon, half bear, and half children's nightmare.

  • I first came across Melon Bear on a trip to Sapporo two years ago,

  • when he caught my friend Natsuki's attention for his unusual teeth.

  • [CB]: Oh my god.

  • [Natsuki]: Dental.

  • [Natsuki trying to sort his thoughts out on Melon Bear's teeth.]

  • Hokkaido is actually home to quite a lot of bears,

  • and the story of his genesis goes that, a bear sunk its teeth into a juicy Yubari melon.

  • And since then, Melon Bear's gone on to sink his teeth into the competition.

  • [CB]: Take that, Kumamon! Try meeting Keanu Reeves with your head ripped off.

  • But Melon Bear is just one of many terrifying mascots to come out of Hokkaido.

  • One of Sapporo's most iconic buildings is the old Clock Tower building in the heart of the city.

  • It actually became an issue that tourists were going to see the Clock Tower and were left feeling underwhelmed by its appearance - myself admittedly included.

  • And so, a local video game company came up with a solution to appease the hordes of ungrateful tourists who failed to appreciate the 19th century architecture.

  • They created 'Haunted Clock Guy'.

  • Modeled on the Clock Tower, he is the literal representation of the horrors of traveling all the way to Sapporo to see the famous clock tower

  • only to be horribly disappointed by its appearance.

  • Apparently, its creator's objective was to, and I quote, 'create an impact that tourists will never forget'.

  • And it certainly is no easy task wiping the image of Haunted Tokei (Clock) Guy attempting to dine on a woman's head out of your memory.

  • Still, not all the mascots on this list involve a character trying to rip someone's head off.

  • ... Um, although the next one-- well, I suppose the next one kind of does...

  • Earlier on we saw No Dora-kun, an anti-drug campaign with a noble aim to inspire children to 'no drug' and also to 'know drug'.

  • And it's important to point out that this character was a rejected idea for an anti-drugs campaign in Kyoto.

  • And, uh... I'm not really sure why to be honest...

  • Oh, wait...

  • To be fair, if a vampire-dinosaur-skeleton with half a dozen syringes for teeth doesn't stop you from taking drugs,

  • nothing will.

  • I can't help but think this was an opportunity to do something really, really quite special.

  • And it boggles the mind that whilst this one didn't get commissioned, the next one did.

  • This is Takapou-kun. A sentient runway who is the mascot for Takumatsu Airport.

  • And there is a sense from his glazed expression that not even he really knows why he exists.

  • I mean, that is a face of a sentient runway having an existential crisis about its own existence

  • ... which is not sentence I ever hope to say out loud again.

  • But there's a sense that, in all seriousness, they could have chosen something a little bit better.

  • At least pick something that has movement!

  • ... Well.

  • Within reason, anyway.

  • Meanwhile, in the nearby prefecture of Kochi,

  • the region is famous for having amongst the highest consumption of alcohol in all of Japan,

  • and as a result, the locals have a god-like mascot to comfort the inebriated townsfolk.

  • 'Bero-Bero no Kamisama'.

  • Literally the 'God of Drunk'.

  • He's a nude pink, spiral-eyed figure who is said to protect you on a night out.

  • Close inspection of his marketing materials reveals that he, number one: protects you from having a hangover,

  • number two: gives you more sexual power,

  • and above all, number three: he protects you from falling down the stairs.

  • Perfect! Finally. A mascot we can all believe in.

  • ...unlike the next one.

  • Oh, god, no... Really?

  • This is Ojinyan. Literally a large, yellow cat with the face of an old man.

  • Created by a Tokyo-based talent agency, apparently Ojinyan likes to sing and dance for the children.

  • ... That is, the children that haven't run out of the room screaming in terror.

  • As somebody who has seen a cat at least once,

  • I think I can say with a degree of certainty that this character is stretching the definition of what a cat is.

  • And it's definitely not something I want to leave in a room with children.

  • Then again, the same could be said for the next character on our list:

  • Tagopan. A panda with a not at all unpleasantly lengthy tongue,

  • who travels around Hokkaido tasting the local gourmet foods.

  • And while he's not stuffing himself with the regional dishes of Hokkaido, he's off licking faces of other mascots,

  • like a family-friendly version of the Licker monster from Resident Evil.

  • The Chiba Lotte Marines Baseball Team of an ever-changing mascot

  • known as 'Nazo no Sakana', literally 'The Mysterious Fish'.

  • And like an evolving Pokemon,

  • what started out as a simple mysterious fish eventually gave birth to a mysterious... skeleton... fish... thing.

  • The skeleton creature itself evolved into a giant fish head.

  • The only question remains: what comes next in Nazo no Sakana's evolution?

  • We've seen an awful lot of bears today from Hokkaido,

  • and this one is by far my favorite.

  • Say hello to 'Zombear'.

  • A zombie bear from Otaru town who has his own appetizing brand of blue curry.

  • Ooh, delicious(!)! Yeah(!)!

  • The story goes that Zombear has been wandering the streets of Hokkaido for 70 years in search of his owner,

  • like some sort of undead Winnie the Pooh.

  • Turns out, Zombear has his own website with his own backstory.

  • It seems part of the reason he's failed to find his owner

  • is because he has, and I quote, 'No sense of direction of extreme.'

  • 'The number of times to get lost in many cases'

  • 'But luck is very good.'

  • And after looking at Zombear's merchandise in range, it does actually seem that luck is very good.

  • Uh, I mean, the Zombear's pants are completely sold out.

  • Perhaps surprisingly, Zombear isn't the only character with his own brand of curry.

  • Down in Hyogo prefecture in the town of Fukusaki,

  • they've created what many people believe to be the most terrifying mascot yet.

  • Say hello to 'Gajiro', a demon from Japanese folklore said to lure people into rivers and drown them.

  • Yehey- what?

  • Fukusaki town was actually the birthplace of a famous folklore expert: Kunio Yanagita.

  • Gajiro takes advantage of his reputation, not only turning the mythical creature into reality,

  • but even installing a mechanical version in the local town pond that pops out and scares passers-by.

  • Although thankfully, unlike the folklore, it doesn't drag you in, kicking and screaming to your death.

  • And whilst he might look utterly terrifying at first glance,

  • and indeed, second and third glance,

  • his long, flowing black hair gives him something of a rockstar-like appearance that the locals have been quick to capitalize on.

  • But Fukasaki town knows exactly what it's doing.

  • To quote the creator of the character in the local government,

  • 'There are already plenty of cute characters around the nation.'

  • Exactly! There are hundreds of cute, cuddly mascots around the country that are ultimately dull and easily forgettable.

  • The race is on to keep the bar high, and to keep producing mascot characters that'll inspire nightmares in children for generations to come.

  • So there you have it guys! Some of the weirdest and creepiest mascots out there in Japan today.

  • But which was your favorite? Go ahead and let me know in the comments below.

  • There is an amazing Twitter account called Mondo Mascots - probably my favorite Twitter account that I follow - posting new characters daily from around the country.

  • And, if you liked what you saw today and you want to see more mascots, I highly recommend checking it out.

  • And I have to say a big thanks to Chris at Mondo Mascots for helping me in my research for the mascots in this video.

  • Without him - without Mondo Mascots, this video would not have been possible, so huge thanks.

  • But for now though guys, as always, many thanks for watching and I'll see you next time.

  • I'm off to, uh... well, to find a new mascot character.

  • I don't think this guy here - don't think he's gonna make the final cut.

  • [DJ Bear's haunting remixing returns.]

  • [... and it continues...]

Japan.

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The HORROR of Japanese Mascots | 10 Craziest Characters

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/29
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