A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

More than knees the eye

Today Shane and I descended on the COEX for caffeine, hamburgers and giant robots. Robots in disguise to be precise. Apparently the ticket clerk warned Shane against our second row seats, saying we'd get motion-sickness.

EXTREME!

Now, giant robots and Asia go together like coffee and cream, so it was definitely an appropriate venue to see Transformers. Though I sense the Korean audience balked a bit at John Turturro's product pitch, as his character tosses a secretly Decepticon cellphone into a holding chamber and says: "Nokia: gotta respect the Japanese." (Never mind he's then corrected: "Nokia's from Finland.")

On the topic, here's why we should, in fact, respect the Japanese: for allowing the rest of the world to bask in the glory of giant robots of all persuasions (meriting even a titular J-culture mag), but also for their blank-faced, blood-thirsty pink bears.

Don't see the connection? Allow me to flip the switch:


Shane and I were wandering through the mall after the movie, and we happened upon a little open air shop, sort of built into a corner. We were drawn in by a display case of strange figurines and shelves of strange plush characters. On closer inspection, we found a good portion of the tiny shop's stock was devoted to the characters pictured above. A hapless little boy getting his ass-kicked nine ways from Sunday by a blank-faced pink bear. On one package I some literature on the nature of their sadistic relationship:

"Gloomy is Pity's pet bear. His height is about 7 ft. He is well trained... except he has a hard time remembering not to attack humans."

I checked out the website (Japanese) as soon as I got home, and even there this (aptly-named) kid is getting the crap beat out of him in animated gifs. The more you click on the it, the more he wails on him. Is there no reprieve for Pity sake!?

Gloomy & Pity are the brainchild of Japanese designer Mori Chack. Here's some more company back-story on the pair:

"Gloomy, an abandoned little bear, is rescued by Pity (the little boy). At first, he is cute and cuddly, but becomes more wild as he grows up. Since bears do not become attached to people like dogs by nature, Gloomy attacks Pity even though he is the owner. So Gloomy has blood on him from biting and/or scratching Pity. The Gloomy with blood is called Chax Colony Edition."

I think this is interesting. Bears are consistently marketed to children as being cute, cuddly and harmless. Gloomy is the first two in spades. But harmless? Bears' biggest detractor, Stephen Colbert would not be wrong in calling this fellow a "Godless killing machine."

Among the subversive cutesy collectibles at the shop, was this:


A big plush bear claw which you can wear on your arm and do wholesome things like wail on your younger sibling with. Presumably it could also double as a neck pillow if you're the milquetoast type.

The star of the sick product show however, would have to be the series of key-chains, each one featuring a unique pose of Gloomy serving Pity his just desserts.

I got the flying head-butt:

So in conclusion, we must respect the Japanese not for their sexy, sleek Nokias, but because they can sell a staggering product line of meaningless baubles featuring a pink bear devastating an unfortunate young lad, all without making us think twice about it.

Also giant robots.
Respect, people.

Respect.

2 comments:

Jono said...

First and foremost, all of the trinkets you acquired only further my belief that we're teaching our children all the wrong kinds of violence.

Secondly, this is my first appearance in a while on ole' Seoulseek, I think because I am unsatisfied at having gaps in the reading, and the longer I am absent, the larger is workload of closing said gap. I may have resign myself to perdiodic reding and posting; a compromise, but probably better than avoiding the 'speaks' altogether, no?

Sam said...

Just think of back-logged posts as fabulous prizes, and enjoy them accordingly.