A character based on a pastry is killing Hello Kitty

anpanmanI just don’t want to live in a world without a nation as weird as Japan – and thankfully I don’t have to. Where else but Japan would you encounter Anpanman, which the NYT says is “a character that is based on a Japanese jam-filled pastry and is produced by Nippon Television”? (Dear NYT: An Anpan is filled with bean paste, not jam.) Further, where else would Jelly Donut Man be the best-selling character image in a nation obsessed with the images of cute cartoon characters?

According to the Tokyo-based research firm Character Databank (!!!!), Anpanman’s image is outselling the perennial powerhouse Pokémon and the rapidly fading Hello Kitty. This is quite a blow for Sanrio’s Kitty, who invented the category of cute characters created solely to sell product. Kitty is also facing challenge from two newcomers the panda Tarepanda, and Rilakkuma (“Relaxing bear.”FYI,  Rilakkuma has a sidekick Korilakkuma whose name translates into, and I’m not making this up, “co-relaxing bear.”) — which has charged up the Character Databank charts and ranks fifth in the latest survey.

As an aside (isn’t this whole blog an aside?) it is interesting to note Hello Kitty lost her long-held spot as Japan’s top-grossing character in 2002 and has never recovered. That is the same year that Mrs. CollateralDamage made her pilgrimage to Sanrio Purio Land, the HK theme park near Tokyo. Coincidence? I report. You decide.

 

Hello Kitty is 2nd marketing logo to be named ambassador by Japan

Japan has named Kitty an official tourism ambassador today. This follows the appointment last March of Doreamon to be the nation’s anime ambassador. While the press and public have been fooled into thinking these are benign actions, there is in fact a strong militaristic bent to both figures that should not be ignored. Both are frequently seen carrying weapons. I believe this is in fact Japan’s latest attempt at global domination.

I know first-hand the tourist power of the Kitty. It was the lure of the Sanrio Puroland theme park in Tokyo that got Mrs. CollateralDamage to convince us to go to Japan for a vacation (no complaints about this from me, btw). I am hoping that the siren call of Sanrio Harmonyland gets us back there for another visit.

If not she will have to make do with the multi-million-dollar musical featuring Hello Kitty that opened earlier this year in Beijing and is in the midst of a national tour. “Hello Kitty’s Dream Light Fantasy” is then scheduled to travel to Malaysia, Singapore and the U.S. over its three-year run. And there’s also the fact that, “according to her official profile from Sanrio, Hello Kitty lives with her family in London, which we will be visiting later this year.

Cute is the hot trend in self-defense gadgets

The phrase “stunning lipstick” is now literally true. Women (and men who are very secure in their self-image) can now carry this wonderful little number that combines a flashlight and 350,000 volts of self-protection. OK, is it just me or is the possibility of a self-inflicted injury pretty impressive here? BTW, if stun guns aren’t your thing, you can also get knives and pepper spray in lipstick-shaped containers. (A more stylish selection of lipstick stun guns can be found here, if you think the ones at right are too plain to show to any potential muggers.)

If you don’t mind that it’s ugly as all get out, you can wear a ring/pepper spray combo. And if someone tells you they think it’s unattractive … well I know one way to win that argument.

The cell phone is another popular shape when it comes to disguising personal protection implements. Again, I have to wonder why Mr. Bad Guy would allow you to grab your cell phone, but if that’s what people are comfortable carrying then I am all in favor of it.

One of the best ways to make sure you don’t have to use gadgets like these is to make it obvious that you are carrying these items. In the past this has meant choosing function over form and strapping something in basic black to your side. Fortunately this is no longer the case. Now, you can combine whimsy and a true drop-dead attitude with this leopard-skin print Taser. Have to say I was a bit disappointed to see that the Taser holster is still only available in basic black.

However should that not be nearly cute enough for you (where’s Hello Kitty when you need her?), there is always the Don’t touch Me! Lovely Pink Seal Stun Gun Lovely Taser Weapon! Gotta warn you though, with only 195 volts of shocking power (I think) you’re giving up a lot for the cuteness factor.

But, as they say, that’s not all. There’s also a very cute pink camo pepper-spray holder. (Which I suppose you could also use to hold actual lipstick.)

“Oh dear! Mr. Collateral Damage,” you may ask, “what do I do if I am going to a more formal event?” Have no fear my dear, the invisible hand of the marketplace is there to help you keep someone else’s visible hands to himself AND look good with diamonds or pearls. The wonderfully named PepperFace sells all sorts of glam pepper spray dispensers adorned with actual authentic Swarovski crystals.

Stun guns and pepper-dispensers come in all sort of less, well, girly shapes as well. For dual functionality nothing can top the old stun gun and flashlight combo as far as I’m concerned. Although I’ve always preferred the basic MagLite with six D cells. It’s a flashlight AND a giant honkin’ piece of metal that you can whack someone with. No worrying about whether the little electronic doohickies made contact with that. However, I now know of something that would be more effective — the combination flashlight AND sharp pointy stick! This is called a “tactical flashlight” and the one that caught my eye promises, “Unlike ordinary tactical lights with crenellated bezel that can often inflict unnecessary harms to oneself, K2 features sharpened spikes around the bezel that protrude outward only when the spike protector is lowered. With the spikes protected when not needed, the fast turn threading allows the rapid retraction of the spike protector. These spikes are sharpened far more than those ordinary crenellated bezel light.

The one drawback with this as far as I’m concerned is that it doesn’t come in a version big enough to house six D cell batteries. Nor does it come in pink. C’mon invisible hand of the marketplace, a need is going unmet!