(This is a departure from the usual posts on this blog about Funassyi in English. It’s an explanation of the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver segment for Japanese speakers. ^_^ )
この番組は、アメリカの HBOという有料ケーブルテレビ局（日本でいえば、WOWOWみたいな存在です）で毎週放映されている Last Week Tonight with John Oliver （今夜ジョン・オリバーと一緒に先週を振り返る）というものです。内容はニュース等をとことん鋭いユーモアでつっこむ、といった感じです。ニュース番組のように見えるかも知れませんがあくまでも社会風刺、バラエティー、コメディー系の番組です。しかし、結構まともなことをいうのと、つっこみがいつも的をついているという評判があり、かなり人気があります。（こういう番組は現在の日本テレビ界にはないと思います。）
司会のジョン・オリバー氏はイギリス出身ですが、数年前にアメリカに移住し、コメディアン等として活動しています。この番組の司会、主役（いわゆる冠番組）を任せられる前は The Daily Show with Jon Stewart という政治風刺番組のレギュラーでした。
- いわゆるご当地キャラは全国で1500体以上もいるらしい。 （ここでオリバー氏は「日本に行って石を投げればほぼ確実にマスコットに当たるだろう」と冗談を言ってます。）
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver takes on Japanese mascots. Kumamon, Funassyi and Melon Kuma appear among others. I think the show may need some help coming up with memorable mascots of their own though.
The “mascot of a notorious prison” is Katakkuri-chan, featured in this video (which is just a segment of a radio program). It was created to increase understanding of Asahikawa Prison in Hokkaido and make it seem more approachable. (Yes, I know.) It’s the first and only yuru-chara of a prison so far.
And the boy-deer character is, of course, the venerable (born in 2010) Sentokun from Nara. Sentokun was initially not well received, but now he is one of the more popular characters in the country.
This is my favorite American yuru chara by the way.
My sister got this card from her kids for Mother’s Day. Yep, Funassyi-fandom runs in the family! ^_^ The caption says “Daisuki nassyi-” - “I love you nassyi-”.
Screenshots from episode 31 (week 7, episode 1) of Funassyi no Funafunafu na Biyori (Funassyi’s Funafunafu Days). Good luck is not easy to get…
The squirrel shows Funassyi some acorns and asks him to pick one. It turns out the acorns contain omikuji - a piece of paper that says what your luck is that day - and Funassyi draws a “not good” one. Funassyi is not happy at all, but the squirrel tells him that he just needs to find his good luck charm, a bear carved out of wood. Funassyi looks all around town for one of these but can’t find one. When he goes home disappointed, someone (the squirrel?) has mysteriously left a wooden bear on his doorstep. The next day Funassyi brings the bear with him to the squirrel, happy that he has a good luck charm to protect him no matter what kind of omikuji he draws. But no…the squirrel tells him the good luck charm changes every day, and today it’s a pottery tanuki! Aaaargh!
- This episode may be poking fun at the popularity of horoscopes and the like on morning newstertainment TV shows in Japan. Sukkiri, the program during which Funafuna Biyori airs, has such a segment. (Note: I prevously erroneously stated they don’t has a horoscope, because I always skip that part ^_^; )
- Omikuji can be drawn at Shinto shrines an Buddhist temples throughout Japan. Sometimes they’re offered elsewhere too. (Wikipedia English definition)
- The wooden carving of a bear with a salmon in its mouth is a folkart item from Hokkaido. They used to be very popular souvenirs from there, but you don’t see them much these days. It’s no wonder Funassyi couldn’t find one in Funabashi.
- The other ‘good luck item’ is a pottery tanuki (also called a Japanese raccoon, although in Japan a raccoon is called an araiguma). Pottery tanuki figures, most famously made in Shigaraki, Shiga prefecture, are often seen in front of food establishments and other retail businesses to being good luck, especially in the Kansai region.
The evolution of Funassyi, part 24: Funassyi helps out Funabashi pear producers and other local businesses with Arinomix
While Funassyi was still very much unofficial in the summer of 2013 as far as the city of Funabashi was concerned, local businesses knew they had a great spokespear in their midst. So in June, Lalaport Tokyo Bay made Funassyi their official mascot, and in July the Funabashi Wholesale Market followed suit.
Another Funabashi business initiative with Funassyi is Arinomix. “Ari no mi （ありの実)” is an old fashioned alternative name for nashi or Asian pears. The word “nashi” - 梨 is a homonym for “nashi” - 無し, which means nothing, or an absence of anything. The people of the Edo period (17th-19th centuries) believed in the mystical power of words, and thought that “nashi” was too negative. So they took the opposite term of “nashi”, “ari” - 有り - which means to have, to exist in a positive sense, and called the nashi fruit “ari no mi” - ありの実 - literally fruit that exist. The name of the business initiative, Arinomix, is a combination of “ari no mi” and a play on Abenomics, the economic initiative that is a keystone of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government policies.
Through Arinomix, Funassyi allowed the use of his image by more than 50 pear producers and 33 food service establishments in Funabashi, to promote the sales of their products. Funassyi plastic bags were provided to customers who came to buy pears from the roadside stands that lined the Nashi Road in Funabashi; big banners and life-size Funassyi cardboard cutouts were displayed for people to take pictures with, and a Funassyi stamp relay encouraged everyone to collect different stamps at several stalls.. For the food establishments a special Nassy Cocktail was created, with a map showing where you could get one. Special Funassyi coasters were made to serve under the Nassy Cocktails, for people to collect.
The summer of 2013 was particularly hot in Funabashi, and the pear orchards had a bumper crop on their hands - way more than they could sell under normal circumstances. The Arinomix campaign literally saved the season for Funabashi’s pear producers, as it increased both orders and foot traffic. News reports estimated that the campaign had a positive economic impact on Funabashi businesses of at least 100 million yen, or around 1 million US dollars in 2013.
The Arinomix campain has continued to this day. In 2014 the pear producers stepped up the mailorder pear part of their business too, introducing the pale yellow Funassyi shipping box (bottom photo). Only top grade pears were offered in these special boxes, which sold out almost as soon as they were made available for pre-order and were shipped all over the country. While numbers are not available for the economic impact of Arinomix for 2014, the likelihood that it was more than in 2013 is pretty high. (The amount may be included in the oft-quoted overall economic impact of Funassyi in 2014, which was guestimated to be around 800 billion yen - around 6.68 billion USD at current exchange rates.)
While it’s not surprising that Arinomix has managed to greatly increase the sales of nashi pears from Funabashi (at least double the amount compared to pre-Arinomix), and even Chiba-produced pears in general, Funassyi has helped to increase sales of nashi pears produced in other regions of the country too - by some estimates by around 120% or more. In 2014 he made a trip to a pear-producing region of Hokkaido to help promote their pears, and another similar trip is planned for July 2015.
Funassyi has never charged a fee for his participation in Arinomix. Instead, he asks the businesses involved to donate the portion of their profits they might have used for licensing fees and so on to charities, including the Michinoku Mirai Future Fund (previously) which provides scholarships to children who were orphaned by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, as well as an organization that works towards reducing C02 emissions.
(The first half of the NHK SWITCH Interview episode with Funassyi that first aired in November 2014 was filmed on Nashi Road in Funabashi and a pear orchard. Funassyi seemed very much at home there. The pear orchard looked a lot like the pear orchard the anime version of Funassyi lives in.)
Photos from the Arinomix Facebook Page
Above is a video of Funassyi’s “kabe-don” part of yesterday’s Shimura Zoo program. The kabe-don victim, er recipient, Haruna Kondo, exclaims how for a second she was in an “airless vacuum”, sealed off by Funassyi.
She did fare a bit better than a previous recipient of a Funassyi kabe-don though, which was shown on MTV Taiwan in January 2015. The female staff member don’ed by Funassyi almost passes out. (The kabe-don starts around the 8:30 mark.)
Despite the potential danger, several Funassyi fans were tweeting yesterday that they wanted to be kabe-don’ed by Funassyi too.
Some screenshots from Shimura Zoo that aired on Saturday, May 9th (previously). Highlights included golden retriever puppies climbing all over Funassyi, with one somehow burrowing itself into Funassyi’s groin; another puppy nibbling Funassyi’s well-worn feet; and Funassyi almost suffocating Haruna Kondo of the comedy duo Harisenbon with an emphatic kabe-don. In the last screenshot, Funassyi is saying “There is no one inside here!” -that’s a poster right there.
Incidentally, during a non-Funassyi segment the presenters passed through the offices of the Itte-Q! program, which airs on the same network. They had a big sign up on the wall saying that the March 29th episode, which included Funassyi and Daisuke Miyagawa’s sled race in Germany, achieved ratings of 21.4%, which is pretty amazing.
The evolution of Funassyi, part 23: Funassyi goes to London
In September 2013, Funassyi was sent to London, England by online commerce company Start Today, who operates the fashion retail website ZOZOTOWN, The storyline for his visit was to meet and greet actress/model Cara Delevingne, who had been hired by Start Today to appear in commercials for a new site they were launching called LA BOO. This was Funassyi’s first “official” trip overseas.
The commercials weren’t too successful - the LA BOO site opened with much fanfare but was closed down and merged into ZOZOTOWN less than a year later. It did leave this fun 3-part video series of Funassyi travelling to, and jumping around, London. Part 2, which is the best part, is above; it includes a scene where Funassyi is bouncing his way across Abbey Road. Part 1 (Funassyi leaves for London) and Part 3 (Funassyi meets Carla) are below.
Incidentally, Funassyi World Trip Project is one of Funassyi’s official YouTube channels, and is updated a bit more these days than Funassyi, which is his first channel. Funassyi has another official channel of sorts with just one video, Funassyi-mente. I guess if I were advising Funassyi on his online strategy I’d tell him to try to consolidate his activities a bit, but he’s done well enough doing whatever he wants so maybe it’s not that important. ^_^;
Funassyi will be doing another live tweet-along tonight when his segment on Genius! Shimura Zoo (Tensai! Shimura Doubutsuen 天才！志村動物園) airs. The 2-hour special episode starts at 7pm Japan time on Nippon TV (NTV). Funassyi has been on this show hosted by veteran comedian Ken Shimura, several times before. The show is mainly about interacting with animals (mostly of the squeeingly cute type). Funassyi has a bit of a problem with animals, who generally can’t seem to figure him out and run away from him and so on. When Funassyi and the animals do manage to communicate though, the results are extremely adorable to watch.
Funassyi has updated his Twitter profile to include 2 upcoming events in May 2015. The first one is in Sapporo, Hokkaido on May 22, but the place hasn’t been announced yet. I’ll post an update when it its.
The second is a confirmation that he will indeed be appearing at the Gotouchi Character Festival In Sumida 2015 (ご当地キャラクターフェスティバル in すみだ2015) on the 31st. See this post for details. (The Tokyo Skytree website has posted this now too so it’s really official.) Although Funassyi is only scheduled to appear on the 31st, he has been known to make surprise appearances in the past, and there will be at least 89 other characters there, performing, rubbing elbows or noses with fans, and hawking their wares. The event itself will take place on the 30th and the 31st, from 10AM to 5PM.
Photo via The Pear. He’s being chomped on by Melon Kuma, who is not on the list of characters scheduled to appear at the Tokyo Skytree event, but is a Hokkaido native – so who knows, he may show up in Sapporo.
The top image shows all the stickers available in the new animated Funassyi LINE sticker set. One of them is the Super Miracle Pear Juice Big Spin (bottom image). When a fan asked Funassyi what situations this should be used for, he suggested using it “when you’re waiting in a buffet line, and the person ahead of you is taking way too much time!”
Screenshots from episode 30 (week 6, episode 5) of Funassyi no Funafunafu na Biyori (Funassyi’s Funafunafu Days). Snow!?
When Funassyi wakes up after a good night’s sleep and peeks outside, it’s suddenly snowed! He goes out to play with his friends, and they make a Funassyi shaped snowman together. Funassy looks out fondly at the Funassyi snowman in the evening and promises it that he will play with it the next day. But in the morning, the snowman has melted away! Funassyi is so upset…
Apparently in Funassyi-world, there are always pears on the trees. ^_^ I love the first shot with the big round form of Funassyi under a duvet, and little Nyaossyi sleeping at his feet.
The drama series that Funassyi was spotted filming in Yokohama recently may be the Japanese remake of Der letzte Bulle (The Last Cop), scheduled to air in early summer 2015 on both Hulu Japan and Nippon TV. The clip above is from The Television magazine. Funassyi reportedly participated in some serious action scenes including ones where he was suspended with wires. Funassyi pictured between Toshiaki Karasawa and Masataka Kubota, who star in the series.
A new set of Funassyi LINE stickers have been released. The animated, talking stickers are from Funassyi’s anime series, Funassyi no Funafunafu na Biyori, and include Guressyi and Pear God stickers as well as several Funassyi ones. Unfortunately they don’t seem to be available outside of Japan (at least they aren’t as of this writing). You can get Funassyi’s previous LINE stickers though within the LINE app, such as this set.
Screenshots from episode 29 (week 6, episode 4) of Funassyi no Funafunafu na Biyori (Funassyi’s Funafunafu Days). A rainy day with Nyaossyi…
It’s raining hard outside, and Funassyi is stuck indoors, bored to death. He tries to get Nyaossyi to play with him using a foxtail grass, but Nyaossyi is having none of it. Funassyi sulkily turns away and starts reading a book, but Nyaossyi jumps on the book and annoys Funassyi even more. Funassyi starts juggling, and Nyaossyi bats one of the juggling bags away. Really annoyed now Funassyi throws one of the bags at Nyaossyi, who bats it right back. Before you know it, they’re juggling back and forth and having a great time.
- The type of grass with a bristly, fluffy head called setaria, bristle grass, foxtail grass and so on is known as a nekojarashi, or cat-teaser, in Japan. That’s why Funassyi is trying to get Nyaossyi to play with it.
- Funassyi looks like he’s juggling with balls, which would make him throwing one at Nyaossyi pretty mean. But he’s actually juggling with something called otedama, which are cloth bags loosely filled with beans or rice. It’s still pretty childish of him to throw one at Nyaossyi, but Nyaossyi bats it back with a paw with no problem!