My Favorite Youkai Watch Youkais

One of the big hits in Japan this year was Youkai Watch (妖怪ウォッチ), the insanely popular video game/anime/toy series. There are TWO Youkai Watch corners planned for this year’s Kohaku Utagassen (紅白歌合戦) (one each for the otherwise unknown singers of Youkai Watch’s theme songs, King Cream Soda [キング・クリームソーダ] and Dream5, each with Arashi [嵐] to give them a hand/give adults something to look at). McDonald’s Japan’s yearly calendar, which has been Pokemon-themed for years, is Youkai Watch-themed this year. Youkai Watch will definitely hit the US in 2015.

I played the first game on 3DS. It’s a pretty fun game, although it’s a bit easy since it’s for kids, and it’s such a Pokemon rip-off I’m surprised that Game Freak doesn’t sue (why would a youkai evolve??). But the character design is adorable! So I want to introduce you to some of my favorite youkai.

Yametaishi (やめたい師)


Yametaishi is my favorite youkai, and as far as I can tell, he has a popularity ranking of about zero. Listen to his voice! Look at those eyebrows! His name is a pun on “yametai shi (辞めたいし/I wanna quit)” and “shi (師),” which denotes a master. He evolves from “Tsudzukanasou (つづかな僧),” which is also a pun (almost all youkai names are puns) translating to “I probably won’t keep it up.”

Hikikoumori (ヒキコウモリ)


Hikikoumori’s name is a combination of “hikikomori (引きこもり),” which is the name for people afflicted with such terrible anxiety that they never leave their house, and “koumori (コウモリ),” which means “bat.” It’s a very obvious pun, but it works. I really like how Hikikoumori’s wings are blankets, and she stays wrapped up in them. She looks so cozy!

Zukyukyunta (ズキュキュン太)




Kansai Police Use Mario Kart to Prevent Car-Related Crimes

It’s hard to find topics to blog about, but sometimes things just fall into your lap.

When I came home from the supermarket today, there it was. It was hanging up right in the lobby of my very own apartment building. It was beautiful. Behold:


At first, it looks like an advertisement for a Mario Kart game. But no. No no no no. This is so much better.

Check the bottom:


“Kyoto Prefectural Police, Osaka Prefectural Police, Hyogo Prefectural Police”

This, friends, is an official police-sponsored campaign. Starring Mario.

What are the police telling us, via Mario?


“Prevent car-related crimes! Here are 5 Mario-recommended techniques”

I’m going to stop right here and make an confession before I go any further: I don’t like Mario Kart, or any other racing games. But…car-related crimes are not something you have to worry about in Mario Kart, right? That’s a different game, right?

So what does Mario recommend?


“Always lock your doors after getting out!”


“Keep your car empty!”


“Install an immobiliser!”


“Park in parking lots with good security features!”


“Use anti-theft screws and equipment!”

Okay. Those aren’t bad tips. But read them again, and then look at Mario’s car. Does…does that thing even have doors? Couldn’t thieves (Bowser?) just, like, pick it up and carry it away? Wait, why are the wheels sideways?

Anyway, there you have it. Kansai police using a racing game character to promote crime prevention. (I’m pretty sure that this has to do with the fact that Nintendo company headquarters are in Kyoto.) It’s amazing. And it literally came right to my back door. THANK YOU UNIVERSE.

When It Comes to Characters, Squishy and Limbless is Best

I really love the Tryworks character Kapibara-san (カピバラさん/Mr. (?) Capybara). Here are just a few of the Kapibara-san items I own:


Isn’t it adorable? Real capybaras are adorable too, in a similar kind of way; they both seem hopeless and helpless, yet carefree.

I also like another character by Sanrio called Kutsushita Nyanko (靴下にゃんこ/Socks Kitty).


There are several factors that draw me to these characters.

1) Like I said above, there’s the helpless-yet-carefree angle, presented in both the situations the characters are shown in, and also in things like small, almost useless limbs (no fingers or toes).

2) There’s also the big eyes and small-to-nonexistent mouth, the combination of which encourages empathy towards the character, while presenting them as non-threatening (no teeth, probably can’t talk much either [non-judgmental]). This combination can be seen in many of Japan’s most popular characters, including Hello Kitty (ハローキティ) and Rilakkuma (リラックマ/Relaxed Bear).

3) Finally, there’s a very important soft-and-squishy aspect to these characters, which manifests itself both in the literal merchandise being stuffed animal-heavy, and the character design just looking smushable.

Now, let’s compare these characters to Mickey Mouse.


1) Long limbs; big feet in big, clunky shoes; almost-fully formed hands with opposable thumbs. He’s definitely not helpless. He could probably kick your butt.

2) His eyes are biggish but his mouth is even bigger.

3) He doesn’t look squishy at all; if anything, he looks more wiry and muscular.

Mickey Mouse is super popular in Japan too, along with the Japanese characters I mentioned above. However, I, personally, am not into him. In fact, by my standards of cuteness listed above, the only Disney character I find cute is mayyyyyybe Winnie the Pooh.


I recently downloaded the app Tsum Tsum (pronounced “tsumu tsumu,” from 積む積む, “stack stack”), a Disney-sponsored game connected to the Line app. While the game itself is a lowest-common-denominator version of the match-3 formula, the opening animation almost brought me to tears the first time I saw it:




No mouths! No legs! No fingers! Undeniably squishy! Is this really Disney?

You can even buy stuffed Tsum Tsum in the Disney Store!

I’m taking the existence of Tsum Tsum as proof that the world is waking up to the appeal of the soft, weak, cute character.

How about you? Do you dig?