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英語:How a hyperactive, dancing, talking pear became a Japanese obsession

Toyko, Japan (CNN) — He may be diminutive in stature as he appears under the shadow of the Tokyo Skytree, Japan’s tallest structure at 634 meters. But as he twists and screams “I’m so pretty!” onstage, it becomes clear that his star is rising.
The crowd of thousands goes wild, screaming his name and snapping as many photos as they can.
“Funassyi” is a superstar in a pear costume.
In the world of cute, cuddly, and sometimes bizarre mascots, these “yuru-kyara” (meaning gentle or laid back characters), have been a ubiquitous presence in advertising in Japan for decades. But Funassyi is a hyperactive talking and dancing pear who has distinguished himself from the pack.
In fact, Funassyi is a household name.

Coming from the northwestern city of Funabashi, known for its delicious pears, Funassyi’s origins lie in his YouTube channel created two years ago. The fact that he spoke, jumped, and had a distinctively flamboyant personality made him different from typically quiet and cuddly Japanese mascots.
Since then, his popularity has exploded, boasting an impressive resume that includes television appearances, commercials and ad campaigns, and even his own novelty single released under Universal Music Japan.

Funassyi’s undeniable charisma

But what makes Funassyi so different from his countless cohorts of colorful characters?
At first glance, one may think his bright yellow color, sparkling eyes and perpetual smile is nothing new for a country with an army of crazy characters like Sanomaru, a white puppy-like mascot from Sano city with an upside down ramen bowl on his head, or Okazaemon, a creepy ghost-like character from Okazaki prefecture.
However, the moment Funassyi starts dancing widely and emphatically hyping up the crowd in his high-pitched voice, ending sentences with his catchphrase “nashiiii!” (Pear!) — this mascot becomes an unforgettable presence.
While even the most popular mascots in Japan like Kumamon, a rosy-cheeked black bear from Kumamoto prefecture, are silent and slow moving, Funassyi’s unique costume design allows for rapid, energetic movements that he uses to jump up and down to excite and rile up his audience. In addition, his ability to speak makes him an interactive and electrifying crowd favorite.
Funassyi and the iconic Japanese teddy bear Kumamon are the superstars of the 2014 Yuru-Kyara festival, which features mascots from all over Japan. People line up to meet and pose for pictures with their favorite mascots and more importantly, buy their exclusive merchandise that includes everything from handbags, towels, T-shirts, and much more.
According to the Character Data Bank, a research firm that studies the character business, mascot-driven character sales amounted to nearly $16 billion in Japan in 2012.

CNN newscaster can’t stop laughing at crazy Japanese mascot

Just one look at his rotund head and undulating belly, coupled with his somewhat creepy high-pitched voice, and you’ve got something so hilariously bizarre, even a professional newscaster for CNN couldn’t keep it together on live TV.
CNN reporter Kristie Lu Stout was in the studio wrapping up a piece on mascots in Japan. Right before she was supposed to pick up where the Tokyo-based reporter left off, a clip of Funabashi City’s mascot, Funasshi, flashed across the screen.
Understandably, Kristie felt the need to laugh at the creature that could have only come from the minds of Japan. Take a look at the clip and see for yourself.

Kristie states on her Twitter account, “Never in my 12+ years on CNN, have I lost it on air like this. I blame #funassyi.”

gif-funassyReplicating the Funassyi effect

Other prefectures are hoping to replicate Funassyi and Kumamon’s enormous commercial success by releasing their own yuru-kyara’s, in an effort to attract regional tourism and land national ad campaigns of their own.
Kumamon’s brand is already expanding overseas, with themed products soon to be appearing in 7-Eleven convenience stores in Taiwan.
Although Funassyi’s stardom currently remains limited to Japan, it’s not unbelievable to imagine his following expanding worldwide, placing him among the ranks of other Japanese icons that became multi-billion-dollar icons.
The creators of Kumamon and Funassyi are hoping for the kind of global fame as Japanese icons Hello Kitty and Pikachu.

Copyright © CNN

 

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日本語:「ふなっしー」をCNNが取材

東京(CNN) 東京スカイツリー前で開かれたイベント。黄色いキャラクターが身をくねらせながらステージに登場すると、集まった数千人が歓声を上げ、一斉にカメラを向ける。子どもだけでなく大人にも人気だ。
「ふなっしー」は梨のコスチュームに身を包んだスーパースター。ちまたにあふれるゆるキャラの中でも、飛んだり跳ねたり甲高い声でしゃべりまくったりするふなっしーは、特異な存在感を放ってきた。
出身は梨の産地の船橋市。2年前にユーチューブに登場し、物静かで愛らしいのが普通だったゆるキャラたちとは一線を画す活動的なキャラクターが注目されて、テレビやCMの引っ張りだこに。ユニバーサルミュージックジャパンから歌手デビューまで果たした。
ふなっしーは熊本県のくまモンと並び、日本中のマスコットが集まる2014年のゆるキャラフェスティバルでもスーパースター的存在だった。写真撮影には長蛇の列ができ、バッグやタオル、Tシャツなどのキャラクター商品も飛ぶように売れる。
マーケティング会社のキャラクター・データバンクによれば、国内のマスコット型キャラクター商品販売額は2012年の統計で約1.5兆円だった。米CNNの国際放送「CNNインターナショナル」の女性アナウンサーが、人気キャラクター「ふなっしー」のリポートに笑いがとまらくなってしまった。番組進行中も「思い出し笑い」を繰り返し、よほどツボにはまったようだ。台湾のニュースキャスターも以前、同じような「洗礼」を受けている。ふなっしーは、いまや海外の女子アナ泣かせだ。各都道府県も観光客を呼び込もうと、ゆるキャラ事業に力を入れる。くまモンは海外進出を果たし、間もなく台湾のセブンイレブンでキャラクター商品が販売される。ふなっしーの活動はまだ国内止まりだが、いずれ海外に進出する可能性は十分ある。

Copyright © CNN

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