"Gross" characters are proliferating in a country known for kawaii, and now even local governments' mascots are trying to out-weird one another.
Japan, the country responsible for Hello Kitty and World Cup Pikachu, loves mascots. One of the most popular fuzzy-suited characters over the past year and a half has been Funassyi, a giant pear creature hailing from just outside of Tokyo. Ubiquitous on billboards and TV commercials, he recently threw out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day for Japanese professional baseball club Chiba Lotte Marines.
Yet Funassyi is not traditionally kawaii, Japanese for “cute.” Most body-suited mascots are slow and silent; Funassyi darts all over the place and isn’t afraid to scream, let alone talk. While Hello Kitty mostly stands around, Funassyi is prone to random fits of headbanging, shaking, and running from explosions in a field.
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