"The global ambitions of Japan's regional mascots, or "Gotochi" characters"
FUNASSYI, Unofficial Mascot of Funabashi city
Thursday, March 05, 2015, 11:00 - 12:00
You may not have known what it is, but you would surely have seen it - a ribbon-tied bib-wearing yellow blob (sorry, juicy Chiba pear) which worships Ozzy Osbourne and is prone to hyperactive twisting, jumping and screaming without provocation.
This is Funassyi, Japan's unlikely media superstar and Gotochi character (regional mascot), second only to the mighty Kumamon, the cuddly red-cheeked bear from Kumamoto whose global expansion has already begun with Kumamon branded goods preparing to hit the stores in Taiwan. The pair of them are the undisputed kings of Japan's "yuru-chara", or soft character, business, which some estimates say amounted to $16 billion in sales in Japan in 2012.
Funassyi is set apart by its energy and ability to speak, or rather scream, in his signature phrases ending in "nashi!", or "pear!", from Japan's other regional yuru-charas which are mostly slow-moving and silent.
Now Funassyi hopes to take its hyper-juicy pear act global. With an appearance on CNN already under its belt, the pear fairy with an attitude will be holding its first press conference to the foreign media. Can it follow in the shining footsteps of Hello Kitty and Pokemon before it? Only time will tell, nashi.