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January 14, 2004

{     San-X     }    

If America is responsible for first defining pop-culture, Japan needs to be given some credit for refining it into an aesthetic art-form. Japanese graphic designers have long been turning out stationery, plush toys, and other accessories whose very cuteness makes them objects of desire on a global scale, transcending the usual 5-13 year-old female demographic for such items. No single Japanese company has been as successful at this as the Sanrio corporation, home of Hello Kitty, Chococat, Little Twin Stars and other bastions of adorable yumminess. In fact, it is often in emulation of Sanrio that other dealers of unnecessary cuteness find success. Perhaps the wackiest, if not most prolific, emulator of the Sanrio style is Japanese based San-X. Their stable of mascots include such weirdness as Kogepan, the half-baked bread boy; Afroken, the rainbow-afroed psychedelic dog; Cheese Head Family, a family of cheese slices whose relative stinkiness (related to the type of cheese they are) determines their attitude about life; and my personal favorite- Yogurt Kun, a little yogurt baby who helps a constipated and uncomfortable rabbit make adorable little poos so that he can go about his happy little rabbit business. Listed below is a link to the English translated website which offers hilariously poor grammar and absolutely ludicrous descriptions of a large assortment of the company's mascots. To buy San-X products, click the second link to go to wizzywig.com. They are a great American-based importer offering unusually fair prices and low shipping costs. In addition to San-X they offer a lot of unique Japanese stuff, including one of the largest assortments of capsule toys I've ever seen. Their customer service is impeccable, and they always have free stuff you can add to your order, just check the home page before filling up your cart. The company offers a huge variety of stationery and accessories, and though it's popularity may not exceed Sanrio's on an international level (there is, after all, something uniquely Japanese about a helpful yogurt baby) the number of products and the number of mascots they support exceeds any competitor. The quality of the stationery is comparable to Sanrio's, though they seem to eschew the higher-end items (themed phones, alarm clocks, television sets, toaster ovens) that Sanrio has been known to butter their bread with. You just cannot beat the wackiness. San-X is so badass, they have created a mascot whose shtick is BEER! Beer Chan can be found carrying around a bottle or mug of frosty goodness, and though he doesn't appear on any stationery I've seen, you can buy him in plush or keychain form and San-X also produces an insulated "beverage bag" that holds and keeps cool two cans of your favorite intoxicant. Atsugarisan ("Hot Man") is a pissed off little guy, but maybe it's because he hangs out with guys named Lonely Man, Golden Brown Man and Pain Man. His description on the San-X site is one of the more entertaining available. Tissue San seems to have been created solely as a way to market Tissue San plush mini-tissue holders. The notoriously germ-concious Japanese carry pocket-sized Kleenex packs wherever they go, and Tissue San holds the tissues in his mouth until you need to pull one out. All you runny-nosed kids need to snatch this up right away. Ucky Monkey are neon-colored Monchichi-like creatures. Their stark white faces, pointy heads and brightly colored bodies make them look like little aliens. Mikan Bouya is a little tangerine boy who hangs out with his citrus buddies, a lemon and a lime. He's one of San-X's heavy hitters, with a lot of products under his name. Perhaps Mikan Bouya's popularity led to Tomatori San, a little tomato boy who shares Mikan's puckish cuteness. I was having one of those "not so fresh" days, and was therefore concerned that I had shat my pants from laughing too hard when I first saw Ginshari San, a.k.a. Mr. Sushi Rice. He is a single grain of rice, and always appears atop a giant piece of sushi. He has his own line of Bento Boxes, the Japanese lunch pail. Nagomimakuri is some kind of salamander/newt/tadpole kind of thing. He has this weird unformed kind of cuteness, like a little cartoon embryo. He's usually just laying around, kind of lazily, like he's just waiting to evolve. Weirdness. Amaguri Chan is a little chestnut. Some of his friends have lost their hard helmet-like shells and are just exposed little nut meat. Mamepyon are little beans and peas, sometimes still sheltered in their pods. They have a very subdued look, as if the struggle of being a member of the legume family is just too much work. There are some rather obvious Sanrio rip-offs. Twin Angels are blatantly Little Twin Stars, Chiwawanko are various tiny animals that all have the blankly mute stare of classic Sanrio characters like Pochacco and Merry Melody, while Nyanko is straight-up Hello Kitty minus the fashionable outfits. As far as wacky flavor goes, I think you'll find San-X beating all comers, and delivering a taste of Japan that you won't find at your local shopping mall.

    » Go to San-X "Engrish" website     » Buy San-X goodies from wizzywig.com

Comments

How dare you not give props out of my boy Tarepanda! He's the Fillmore Slim of that shit.

Posted by: Lindsey at January 18, 2004 7:52 PM

The decision to exclude Tarepanda was made by the robot aliens who control my brain from a remote galaxy. They also forbade me to include mention of Smily Sky, a happy little cloud fellow who brings happy gay rainbows into your life.

The robot aliens from a remote galaxy do NOT like pandas and they do NOT like gay happy clouds.

Posted by: Adam at January 18, 2004 7:52 PM

i was unfamiliar with this stuff until i saw your favorite pooping rabbit at your place, but i think they're all so damn cute, i'm going to have to check out those links and order some stationary… i'm sure my grandparents will appreciate thank you notes for holiday gifts on pieces of paper filled with flattened pandas, pooping rabbits and creatures with blocks of cheese for heads… that will be grand…

Posted by: stace at January 18, 2004 7:53 PM

Where can I find pics of the rabbit that Yogurt Kun helps? Untill I see the poop with my own eyes, I won't start eating yogurt... Also, Kogepan rules!!!

Posted by: Inbi at June 3, 2006 2:15 AM

You forgot Nyan Nyan Nyanko! I don't think it gets any wackier than those kitties! But thanks for your in-depth description of san-x. It's hard to find lots of info on it.

Posted by: Nyankofan at June 20, 2009 2:28 PM
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