Hello! Yes I am cheating! This feature is meant to be about characters that actually exist but it’s hot and I’m tired and confused and I can’t seem to pick one! And so…here’s a picture I drew earlier. It’s me, dreaming of things I’d rather be doing than sitting at a  desk, feeling hot. It’s still cute so…it counts, right??!

Summer Dreams

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Mameshiba is a bean. A little dog bean thing. Or sometimes, a nut. There are lots of different ones: edamame, peanut, pistachio, azuki bean, jelly bean etc. It’s hard to explain, take a look:

Grumpy rabbit Mameshiba and a Babyshiba

Hm?

You can buy quite a lot of Mameshiba goods, keyrings, plushes, stationery etc. I really rather like the seasonal ones you can get in UFO catchers. At Christmas they had Mameshiba reindeer and in January, Mameshiba rabbits (year of the rabbit). He also appears in one of my favourite magazines,’ ねーねー: Cutest Character Magazine’.

Cute character magazine!

Mameshiba cartoon

Free gift!

And as if all this wasn’t cute enough, he’s also the star of some really rather adorable little short clips where he pops up and recites a little piece of trivia. Here’s one (with English text):

Cute!

Here’s another!

So you see, Mameshiba is awfully cute :)

(I wish magical little beans would pop up and talk to me when I’ve had to much to drink!)

Time for the second edition of Cutest Characters. I’ll be doing these updates on Wednesdays instead of Fridays. (Yes, I know it says posted June 9th but I started writing before midnight! Aaaah!)
I’m writing about another cat character! Bagpuss, oh Bagpuss.

Bagpuss in Akiba

Bagpuss is a character from an old childrens TV show first shown in 1974 and created by Peter Firmin and the very wonderful and sadly deceased Oliver Postgate. So this was a show that was quite old by the time I was born but it must have still been shown on TV I think as I do remember watching it (along with other Smallfilms shows like the Clangers, Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine).
The premise is that Bagpuss belongs to a little girl called Emily, who owns a strange shop full of lost, broken things waiting to be reclaimed by their owners. Why am I telling you this when I can show you!
“Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss
Old fat furry Catpuss
Wake up and look at this thing that I bring
Wake up, be bright, be golden and light
Bagpuss, oh hear what I sing.”
The episodes always begin with a new object being brought to the shop and the regular inhabitants trying to figure out what it is. The mice usually try to fix it, Professor Yaffle figures out what it is and then one of the characters gets inspired and tells a story which is told through a little animation. It’s all quite dreamy and very nice to watch when you’re trying to get to sleep.

Bagpuss in Shibuya

Although Bagpuss is definitely a part of my childhood my current obsession with him really began two Christmases ago when I received a little Bagpuss toy from my Mum. There are a lot of Bagpuss toys out there and some of them are, well, hideous. This one is different. He’s small and fluffy but not soft and has the most mournful expression on his face. I was more excited about this present than, well, just about anything else! I was so taken that I started taking lots of photos of him. The more fun the location the better it is because he always looks sad no matter what angle the picture is taken from. I’ve taken pictures of him looking sad in cherry blossom trees, next to sweets and drinks, at Summer Sonic, next to the Glico man etc. etc. Bagpuss remains unimpressed and this is why I love him. I have a tumblr ‘The Exciting Life of Bagpuss’ which I’ve only recently started updating again where I post pictures of Bagpuss looking mournful next to things. I have quite a large backlog of photos to post.
Have a look! And follow me!
http://bagpuss.tumblr.com/

What's happening?

 So to conclude, here’s the little verse from the end of the programme:
“And of course, when Bagpuss goes to sleep,
All his friends go to sleep too.
The mice were ornaments on the mouse organ.
Gabriel and Madeleine were just dolls.
Professor Yaffle was a carved, wooden bookend in the shape of a woodpecker.
Even Bagpuss himself, once he was asleep, was just an old, saggy cloth cat,
Baggy, and a bit loose at the seams,
But Emily loved him.”
And I love him too.

I heart Bagpuss

Bagpuss Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagpuss
Bagpuss Shop: http://www.bagpussshop.co.uk/

Oops, I say I’ll start regular features and then I mess up on my first try! In my defence, I went out on Friday night and just didn’t have time to write before going out. I’m really sorry!!

OK, so, cutest character post number one! The subject? Nemuneko.

Nemuneko, which means ‘sleepy cat’ is produced by Furyu and at the moment these cats (and their mice companions) are exclusively available in UFO catchers. I first found out about Nemuneko at the Arcade Operators Union show in 2009. Some of the free UFO catchers (yes, free! AOU is awesome) had big white Nemuneko available and we came home with two of them. Some characters are so cute they do something to my mind. Seriously, when I won one of these I almost felt like crying, it was just so cute.

Furyu has steadily been introducing new versions of the cats, including super furry ones, tiny plastic ones, Christmas ones, cherry blossom ones etc.  I’m hoping they’ll start selling merchandise at some point, The pictures on the labels and the pictures they have in the UFO catchers are terribly sweet and I think Nemuneko  merchandise would do well. In the meantime, I’m just lucky that Danny is so good at UFO catchers because I’m useless at them!

This website shows old and upcoming versions:

http://www.chara-hiroba.com/category20_list.php

Here are some photos of my steadily growing collection:

Cute!