Saying Goodbye to a Kemono Friend, Japan’s Otaku Penguin
Two announcements. First, we’re happy to report that the Megumi Halloween stickers are available again, so if you want one, put in an order soon before they sell out again. Also, J-List recently upgraded our website, and we are experiencing some off-and-on issues with orders. If you made an order and didn’t get an automated email about it, please open a ticket so we can check on it. [EDIT: The site issues are fixed, so feel free to browse and buy!]
One thing I love about anime and related popular culture is the way it unites the world. I could visit a country like Russia or Iceland or Estonia and have no connection to the people there, yet if I could find an anime convention, I know I’d be able to geek out with local fans about cosplay, figures, and whatever. While otaku culture crosses international borders with ease, it’s far more rare that it cross interspecies barriers. But it happened to a penguin named Grape-kun at the Tobu Zoo, who made headlines around the world when he fell in love with a cutout of the penguin character Hululu from Kemono Friends. To promote the anime and encourage otakus to get out and see some beautiful animals up close, cutouts of various Kemono Friends characters were placed around the enclosures. One penguin, Grape-kun, loved looking at the Hululu cutout so much that he became known as “Japan’s otaku penguin.” Grape-kun’s obsession reportedly got so great that he stopped eating, and he had to be isolated for a few weeks until he returned to normal. Fans feared something might be up when a notice was posted by the zoo staff that the “Fall Grape-kun Festival” event had been cancelled and the penguin removed from his enclosure for medical treatment. Then the bad news was delivered that the elderly Humboldt penguin had passed yesterday. Thanks for all the fun times, Japan’s otaku penguin, and goodbye to our true Kemono Friend!
I started watching the second season of Love Live Sunshine, the latest in a long line of idol-kei anime that stretch back 35+ years, providing large doses of bubblegum and cotton candy to fans in a way that lets us forget our troubles for a while. I did some research into what the “first” idol anime was, and came up with some interesting candidates, like 1971’s Sasurai no Taiyou (if groovy folk singers with acoustic guitars can be called idols), a Pink Lady anime I’d not known about, and the classic Creamy Mami, the first show to combine the magical girl and idol genres. Personally, I will always link 2D idol culture with 1982’s Super Dimension Fortress Macross, which took real-life idol Iijima Mari and turned her into character that could alter the destiny of the galaxy with a song. Idols (either 2D or 3D) are fun because they’re a harmless obsession, and the songs you listen to in a given era will be treasured forever. I’ll never forget hours lost listening to Matsuda Seiko’s album Strawberry Time back in 1987, or riding my bicycle to 11 different CDs shops to hunt down the single for Shinohara Ryoko’s Itoshisa to Setsunasa to Kokoro Tsuyosa To, the theme song to the Street Fighter II animated movie. If you’re a fan of idols, either solo or group or 2D, which one was your first?
For Halloween this year we decided to print limited Megumi stickers which customers will receive with their orders. The stickers proved so popular that we ran out for a few days earlier this week. Happily, we’ve got the stickers back in stock now, so if you want to get one, make sure to get your orders in soon as they will sell out again. Since October 14 is Sonico’s birthday, we’re also having a flash coupon, with $5 off $30 or more for everyone through the end of Monday. Use code SUPERSONICO to get the $5 discount.