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Most popular Japanese characters - can you guess them all?

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See if you can guess what the top ten most popular Japanese characters are (as voted by the Japanese people):

https://en.rocketnews24.com/2018/02/01/japanese-netizens-rank-the-top-10-iconic-characters-that-represent-japan/

Hint: there are 2 videogame characters on the list.  If you don't at least guess those 2 correctly, your membership to Retromags is revoked.:P

Granted I have the advantage of having lived here for the past 10 years, so this list was pretty predictable for me.  I got the top 3, no problem (especially #1, which was an absolute given - I assume it won by a HUGE landslide).

SPOILER:

 

 

 

I would have guessed that #4 and #5 would be reversed.  The reason being that Hello Kitty is pretty much liked by everyone, but Anpanman is strictly for toddlers.  Even 1st graders will vehemently deny liking Anpanman (I guess the English equivalent might be Barney or Teletubbies - popular with the super-young, but slightly older kids are too cool to admit they ever liked it).

#8-10 were clearly voted into place by adults.  I don't know any kids who like those characters.  It's amazing how many school principals have confessed their love of Gundam to me while drunk at parties, though...

 

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I'm in America and a lot of them are ones you'd think most people would know...like Godzilla, Mario, Hello Kitty and Pikachu. Gundam...smaller crowd. The rest...probably only hard core international gaming fans.

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Well, as I said, only 2 of them are video game characters (although all but one of them has appeared in video games as well.)  This is more of a test of your knowledge of Japanese pop culture than of knowledge of Japanese video games or game characters.

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I guess it shows how much Japanese pop culture is exported to the West these days.

I learned about a weird Japan-USA pop culture exchange just yesterday, actually.  I asked a student to give me the name of a famous character to use in something I was writing on the board, and they said "Duffy."  I was confused, and everyone in the room looked at me like I was crazy.  "You know...DUFFY!  The bear!  The DISNEY bear!!"

They all assumed I knew the character because not only is it popular in Japan, but it's a Disney character, which as everyone knows is an American company.  I looked it up online later and sure enough, there IS a Disney bear named Duffy.  But it wasn't popular in America and didn't become well known until they marketed the hell out of it as a Disney Sea character (which is a theme park in Tokyo).  I'm not sure if its popularity has leaked back into America, its country of origin (I'm a little out-of-touch with what's popular in the US these days), but it's apparently very well known in Japan (though somehow I'd never heard of it until yesterday.)

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as far as the top 10 list goes, i'd never heard of #1 Doraemon or #4 Anpanman. I didn't realize Totoro was as highly revered there as he apparently is (PS i've barely seen any of the Studio Ghibli films, need to get on that!). Cool to see Godzilla on there. Is he still mega popular, or is it just a wave because of the recent revitalization of the character?

i'd also never heard of Duffy Bear. i had to Google it to see what it even was. I'm still not sure how something like that can get popular without ever, you know, appearing in a Disney cartoon. bizarre.

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4 hours ago, twiztor said:

as far as the top 10 list goes, i'd never heard of #1 Doraemon or #4 Anpanman. I didn't realize Totoro was as highly revered there as he apparently is (PS i've barely seen any of the Studio Ghibli films, need to get on that!). Cool to see Godzilla on there. Is he still mega popular, or is it just a wave because of the recent revitalization of the character?

I've worked with kids every day for the past ten years, so even though I've never seen a single episode of Anpanman or Doraemon (not owning a TV is part of the reason), I can identify and name all of the main and most of the supporting characters from each.:lol:

I think Sanpo (the song from the opening credits of Tototro) might well be the Japanese national anthem, as often as I hear people singing it.

As for Godzilla, I wouldn't say it's all that popular at all, really.  Kids don't really care, so you're not gonna find his picture plastered over every kind of merchandise you can imagine like Pikachu.  But the list was of characters the Japanese felt best represented Japan, and I think they are aware of Godzilla's historical significance and its role as an early ambassador of Japanese culture to other countries.

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remember Domo? 

that got pushed in the U.S. as super popular in Japan, but never really caught on. Was Domo really that popular over there, and does that popularity continue or did it fall off?

 

domokun2.jpg

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4 hours ago, twiztor said:

remember Domo? 

that got pushed in the U.S. as super popular in Japan, but never really caught on. Was Domo really that popular over there, and does that popularity continue or did it fall off?

Well, Domo-kun is a corporate mascot for the public broadcasting channel NHK, so it's unlikely that anyone in Japan wouldn't recognize him.  But I don't t think that's the same thing as popularity, and from my perspective, Domo-kun has never been popular.  It's like Captain Crunch:  do Americans recognize him?  Sure.  But he isn't popular, and you aren't going to see him emblazoned on t-shirts, pencil cases, and everything else you can think of like a popular character like Pikachu or Spider-Man or what have you.

As would be expected, many popular characters are fads, especially in a country like Japan.  And sometimes, it isn't even the character itself that's the fad, but rather, how the character is presented.  Disney has always been super popular in Japan, but about 9 years ago, there was a merchandising blitz called "cubic mouth" that hit Japan and you saw these horrific abominations everywhere.  A year later, they were gone, and kids now have never even seen them before.  I always wondered if these somehow made their way back to the States?:

  mickey.jpgminnie.jpgdonald.jpgmml-a09c6e47d964bb790c7f7f93ba938aa8.jpeg20100330_1779906.jpg20100909110835wLIJh-L.jpg

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I guessed 10, 9, 6, 3, and 2 I might have guessed Gundam and Totoro if I took more time to think but I only allowed myself a few seconds.

Remember Rei's perverted grandfather from Sailor Moon and when he was eavesdropping on the girls and made his entrance swinging on a vine?

Because it's not nearly as disturbing as Cubic Mouth dolls.

 

 

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