Featuring the adventures of Professor Kyoko and the "Taxhound," it consists of 78 pages of the dense, unreadable text you'd expect from a pamphlet like this. The only difference between it and those of other countries being the supercute girls! girls! girls! popping up amidst the charts and tables of numbers. Here, see for yourself! It's avaialble for free download from the METI website.
You know what else is available for free download? The totally squeezable huggable lovable OMG-I-could-just-eat-you-up Accounting for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises! Featuring an even further infantalized mascot character and, of course, her mutant turtle sidekick.
As always, these aren't intended for tax-crazed toddlers. They're distributed to small business owners throughout Japan. Truth be told, these are less "kawaii" than they are "moé," but I think one thing is clear: nothing is safe from the siren song of the supercute in Japan.
Before you die, you see... Hello Kitty dressed up like Sadako from "The Ring." This is one of those pre-apocalyptic, now-you've-seen-everything mash-ups of the sort that can only come from marketing for a super-retarded-looking remake of a classic film, where (spoiler alert) Sadako doesn't come out of the TV, SHE COMES OUT OF THE INTERNET wait OMG agsaghhhhhh help . .
Kawaii. The aesthetic of Japanese cute. You love it or hate it, but you can't escape it, as Hiroko and I learned when renewing the insurance on our house. Japan being Japan, the pamphlet that explains the different levels of coverage features helpful super deformed illustrations of the catastrophes that can befall homeowners. We aren't insuring our house through Playskool. One of Japan's biggest banks gave this to us.
Double noooo! Yes, you can get earthquake coverage in Japan.
Triple nooo! I've discussed tsunami mascots before, but the fact that something like this still flies even post-3/11 is a testament to how deep the kawaii aesthetic runs in Japan. Imagery like this isn't seen as infantile or condescending; it's understood that cute graphic design acts as a visual signpost to hold peoples' attention even when they might want to look away.
These unhappy little houses appeared in the section illustrating the difference between (from bottom to top) partial damage, half damage, and total writeoff.
And what homeowner insurance policy would be complete without coverage of your possessions? Again, bottom to top, partial damage, half damage, and totally supercute huggable destruction of the contents of your home.
My pal Andy has constructed the ultimate shrine to Showa-era (1980s and early 90s) gaming in his spare bedroom, where nothing made after 1995 is allowed inside (ignore that iPhone) and the blips of 8- and 16-bit soundtracks fill the air. Complete with tube TV (a surprisingly difficult to find commodity in this day and age) tatami mats, and cartridges by the bagload. The only concession to modern technology are custom-made AV cables for top-notch video quality. Currently online: Famicom, Super Famicom, and Sega Mega Drive. Coming soon: PC Engine.
Sega announced it last year, but I only stumbled across the legendary "pee to play" urinal game in a cheap-ass Tokyo bar last month. This marks the first and hopefully last time I ever have to film myself in a bathroom.