I think a lot of the time weird Japan is weird, weird Japan knows it is weird and weird Japan is laughing about it, e.g.
“We know. It’s OK, go ahead and laugh. We know.”
But sometimes Japan apparently has no idea it’s peculiar and creepy to invent an AI talkbot bear called (I think) Himitsuno Kumachan– Secret Bear?– then have it introduced in a stilted, badly dubbed video by the 100 Yen Shop version of David Duchovny. Remarkably, even I can tell that the Japanese is even more stiff and unnatural than the English.
“Mr J” also visits a coffee shop to have a little chat with his bear, which isn’t a strange and awkward thing for a grown man to do, no, not at all.
Children are presumably the actual intended users for the product, as opposed to 100 Yen Shop David Duchovny. Here we see a genuine human child who is somewhat interested for a good forty seconds before looking around for something else to do. SUPAA FUN!!!
More information here, though like most of these sites it’s quite baffling even if you do read Japanese. Or if you’d like to immediately and decisively cut off the development of your child’s social skills and render them unable as adults to ever look at fake fur or shiny black buttons without an involuntary shudder, you can buy one for ￥10,778 (about €79 / £56 / $88)
Even more from the series of Japanese short films about crafts and manufacturing, which was featured yesterday: this time the videos feature the making of clockwork and tin toys, daruma (達磨, the hollow good luck dolls supposedly modelled after Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism), oil pastel crayons, oil paint for artists, and mosquito coils.
The film about daruma shows equally fascinating traditional hand-made techniques, and slightly more industrial manufacturing of them. Even so, they’re all still finished individually just like the other items shown in these videos, the paint and the mosquito coils included. The pastel one is a bit tedious at the start, but if you’re an artist like me or otherwise just get excited about colours, stick with it and the one about paint for some huge, lush blobs of intense, glossy pigment erotica. The film about mosquito coils is initially rather alarming because despite them working with insecticide all day, not a single person is wearing a mask or gloves. A little research, however, showed that pyrethrum and pyrethrins derive from chrysanthemum flowers (as shown in the film) and are so safe to humans and other mammals that a person would have to ingest many grams of the substance to even get ill. The film also does a little introduction to anti-mosquito incense, which was in fact invented by a Japanese gentleman in the 1890s, although it was his wife who came up with the improved coiling version still in use today. Guess who usually gets the credit, though?
And since we’re on the subject of mosquito coils– how often does that happen?– what a great excuse for a link to two of my favourite posts on the site, though they’re among the least favourite with readers: MUSHUDA and Mushuda II: Miscegenation!
(See also Fascinating Repairmen )
… but please don’t make them into lamps after poking their eyes out with scissors. Especially on a children’s TV show in Sweden, unless you want to cause a storm in a teacup. Via Metafilter, a Norwegian site reports (do I detect a hint of anti-Swedish glee?) that “Swedish children’s TV channel is forced to remove clip of doll murder.“
Luckily (for them) Sweden is so utopian that some people have nothing better to worry about than dolls being mutilated on a TV show for children, Philofix, complaining vociferously that it was “perverse”, “macabre” and “crazy”, and that the presenter should be dismissed. Clearly these people have never met a real child or they’re a very long way from their own childhoods, because otherwise they’d know that many children adore this kind of business and need no encouragement or instruction whatsoever in play-sadism with any vaguely humanoid figure. Given half a chance they’ll fuck up a doll in ways that make presenter Rakel Wärmländer’s interventions with scissors seem very tame. This project definitely is perverse, macabre and crazy… but guess what? Children are perverse, macabre and crazy too. What’s wrong with being perverse, macabre and crazy anyway?
Not to mention that– old lefty that I am– I think it’s preferable for a child to know that the world is there for them to learn from, tinker with and enjoy in their own private and individual way instead of just passively accepting objects and products as they are given, and never doing anything without permission.
Watch Rakel get medieval on a doll’s ass below. UPDATE: What a shame, the miserable bastards have purged it from YouTube already.
That’s phonographic, not pornographic. I know I kind of brought it on myself with posts about James Joyce’s sexual fantasies and squid sex, and due to the fact that I swear a bit too much, but the number of people who land on this blog after searching for terms like “sex doll” is ridiculous. This post is not about sex dolls.
The images and quotes here are from another of my slightly disturbing collection of Victorian and Edwardian books, in this instance the laboriously titled Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, Including Trick Photography (1898).
“The doll’s body is made of tin, and the interior thereof is filled with a mechanism very much like that of a commercial phonograph, but, of course, much more simple and inexpensive.”
Pigmon. It’s the expression that makes this one magnificent. Prawn hands? Feathers? Pink lipstick? DEAL WITH IT.
I don’t know much about Ultraman or the context of the characters depicted here, except that it was a Japanese tokusatsu (特撮 “special effects”) TV series from the 1960s involving battles between the title character and various kaiju (怪獣 usually translated as “giant monster”, though it’s more like “strange monster”) of the kind best known to Western audiences in the form of Godzilla. It still looms fairly large in Japanese culture via various spinoffs, sequels, reboots and vinyl figures based on characters from the show. I got a catalogue of the figures in Tokyo a few years ago, mainly because I liked the pathos of these endearingly crappy monsters. On the other hand, I suppose even Pigmon would be legitimately terrifying if it was really the size of a building and it came crashing down onto your house.
In classic Japlish style the book’s katakana title reads as something like “Neo Ultra Monsters Vinyl Complete Album”, and its pages record in exhaustive and occasionally amusing detail the imagination of the show’s costume designers. Or their lack of imagination, in some cases. The pictures are scanned from the book, which has hundreds of examples, every one beautifully photographed and catalogued.
A hard-hitting, honest depiction of normal everyday life in Japan, to wit a marriage between a human-sized plastic doll and a hairy-chested doppelgänger of the usual turquoise Mushuda bear, here reduced to an impotent voyeur. Apparently this PVC bride’s dowry consists of an anti-moth product for ladies [sic] called Kaori (“perfumed”), which is also a common Japanese feminine name. Try not to get any Japanese women you meet with that name mixed up with the insecticide product because they certainly won’t thank you for trying to put them in your closet to repel moths.
(Sequel to yesterday’s Mushuda anti-moth SWAT team raid).
And… this. I don’t even know what this is or why it exists, but it does. Nice that she’s still seeing her friends and having a plastic girls’ night in even after her recent nuptials with the bear.
From an advertorial by Meccano Ltd. (makers of Hornby-Dublo trains and Dinky toy cars) in Eagle, 1960.
Am I the only person disturbed by the way this robot barges in with HALLO, THERE! and then proceeds to answer “interesting” questions about things like Walschaerts’ valve gears, questions that no normal person would ever ask?
Maybe it’s just because I’ve actually met humans who do exactly the same thing, and who don’t have the excuse of being a robot from the 1960s.