Whatever happened to Domo-kun, the furry brown monster with the jagged maw? When I first got to Japan I used to see him everywhere. Now Chiitan, the masochistic Otter who reps the city of Susaki in Kochi Prefecture, stacks my social media feeds with memes, and Unari-kun, from Narita, is the current reigning champion of the Mascot Grand Prix. Domo-kun has some serious competition.
The NHK mascot was the first yuru-chara (literally, soft character) to achieve success overseas thanks mostly to a photoshopped picture of two Domos chasing a kitten that went viral in 2002, according to the website Know Your Meme. But our little woolly friend became a star in Japan after debuting in a series of stop-motion sketches in 1998. That's right, Domo turns 20 in December.
It feels like it wasn't that long ago that Domo was hatching from an egg in the underground burrow of a rabbit known as Usajii-san. What followed was a real "Odd Couple" situation, with Domo wreaking havoc on Usajii-san's home.