Sunday, March 26, 2017

ぐでたま (Gudetama)


Japan loves its manga (comics) and anime (animation).  It will create characters from and for anything.  While in the States our cartoon characters tend to be of the biped and quadruped variety (humans, dogs, cats, mice), the Japanese will anthropomorphize any number of inanimate objects or otherwise non-sentient beings.

Gudetama is a cartoon egg with a deep malaise and a predisposition toward existential thought.  He is the ultimate slacker, completely lacking in motivation (gude = lethargic, tama, from tamago = egg).  He is not interested in becoming a chick.  In fact, he'd rather return to his shell than face the day let alone the future.  Mostly what he wants to do is sleep.  His snooze button is always on.

Gudetama was created by artist Nagashima Emi for the kawaii (cute) product giant Sanrio in 2013.  His absurd character profile on the Sanrio website only confirms the inherent laziness of eggs.  His likeness appears on hundreds of Sanrio products, from tote bags and coffee mugs to chopsticks and bento boxes.  He has also appeared in some 500 one-minute animated shorts with a forlorn, squeaky, little voice muttering things like:

"Cold world" (せちがらい) while lying in an egg slicer; and
"What can we do about it?" (スッパリあきらめよう) after being sliced into pieces by said device.

While Gudetama's laziness may run contrary to the industrious national character, his ennui is perhaps not so far removed from Buddhist thought and the concept of transience.  A cute sakura blossom would have been a more obvious embodiment of this melancholia, but the perfect beauty of an egg is also fleeting.  And it is more funny.

何かと大変な世の中だけど (What a tough world it is)

- ぐでたま (Gudetama)

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