About half year ago I wrote about Kumamon, a yurukyara (local mascot) of Kumamoto Prefecture. The cute bear character is still popular, but it does not appear in the media as often as before.
Yes, Japanese are so fickle and we have found a new mascot that enthuses us. So, who took the place of Kumamon, the champion of Yuru-kyara Grand Prix 2012?
It is ふなっしー（Funassy), a pear-shaped unofficial mascot of Funabashi City (Chiba Prefecture) ! He (she? it?) won the ご当地キャラ総選挙２０１３（Gotochi kyara sosenkyo 2013), a local mascot competition sponsored by the Japan Department Store Association.
That's Fnassy. He calls himself a "fairy of pear"and his name is made up of Funabashi City and nashi (梨、pear in Japanese), the city's special products; however, he is not authorized by the city as its official mascot, despite his tremendous popularity.
When he first appeared in the media, many people, including myself, found him bizarre rather than cute, because he was too far from the common image of yuru-kyara.
In general, the yuru-kyara mascots don't talk at all, and move relatively slowly and in a lovely manner, while Funssy restlessly jumps up and down, screaming in a high-pitched male voice, and talks... "a lot."
When he began to appear on TV as one of the yurukyaras, many people were surprised at this unexpected character setting. I still remember several TV show hosts said in astonishment -- "Do you talk?"
Actually, he has a good sense of humor and makes people laugh, which grabbed people's heart and made him popular rapidly, although the he is a bit too unsophisticated in design.
Check him out on Youtube below. This is the promotion video of his fist DVD released in July by Pony Canyon, a major music and image software company. I heard it was successful in sales. What a surprise...
As I mentioned before, however, Funabashi City has no intention of authorizing him as its official character. I was wondering why and one day I happened to find an article on this matter. According to the article, a spokesperson of the city government explained that Funassy was a character created by an individual, not officially chosen by public; and that pear production is not only thing Funabashi can be proud of.
Umm... Funabashi municipal government seems dislike Funassy for some reason. Recently they created an official yurukyara, going through a proper procedure. See the image below. That's him, Funaemon!! Looks like a good boy, but he is not as appealing as Funassy. What do you think?
ゆるキャラ local muscot
一番（いちばん） No. 1
熊本県（くまもとけん） Kumamoto Prefecture
船橋市（ふなばしし） Funabashi City
跳び回る（とびまわる） jump around
それに in addition
～らしくない not like
うける be accepted
今年（ことし） this year
総選挙（そうせんきょ） general election
優勝（ゆうしょう） get the first prize
発売（はつばい）される be released
ちなみに by the way
公認（こうにん） officially authorized
船えもん（ふなえもん） name of a yuru-kyara