For most people outside of the Japan-loving world, internet memes were the gateway into the world of Domo. From killing kittens to just about everything else, Domo is all over the place. From plushies to clothing to vinyl figurines, Domo has become insanely popular. Thanks internet!
But what is Domo really? How did he come to be? What makes him so cool?
What is this Strange Creature?
Domo has been the official mascot of Japan’s NHK television station since 1998 and first appeared in several 30 second stop-motion shorts. These sketches were shown as station identification during TV programs which were part of a promotion celebrating the 10th anniversary of NHK’s satellite broadcasting. Such a humble beginning. Domo had no idea what he was getting himself into.
The “Domo” moniker was acquired during the second episode of his show in which the TV announcer said, “Domo, konnichiwa,” which can either be interpreted as “Well, hello there,” or “Hello Domo.” The kun suffix on “Domo-kun,” is a Japanese honorific often used with young males. And now you know.
Domo the TV Star
The guy behind these TV shorts goes by the name of Tsuneo Goda. He directs the Domo episodes using stop motion animation and claims that “by using this process, one can create a work filled with feeling.” Well, I dunno about that, but it’s pretty entertaining stuff. And in English too! At least (all but one of) the ones below are anyway.
This handy video puts all of the 30 second skits into one convenient video so we can all see how Domo got to where he is today. It’s in Japanese, but you can still get the gist of what’s going on. Enjoy!
And now for the English ones. Domo is the star of the show (obviously) and is described as being “a strange creature that hatched from an egg,” with a large, sawtoothed mouth that is permanently stuck in the wide-open position. Domo’s favorite thing to devour is nikujaga, a meat and potato stew, and he has a strong dislike for apples. This is due to a strange unexplained mystery in his DNA. How intriguing!
Domo’s only means of communication is producing a loud low-pitched noise that sounds kind of like his own name, but the other characters on the show seem to understand him well enough. A Tokyopop press release of the Domo comic book states that “he communicates sotto voce (intentionally lowering one’s voice for emphasis) with a verve that only his friends can understand.” Sounds legit.
Clint Bickham (writer of the Domo comic book) describes Domo’s expression as “a sort of cheery wonderment. Like when a kid wakes to a room full of presents on Christmas day.” He says that most of Domo’s expressions have “an underlying sense of fascination.” The big brown monster is also known to pass gas repeatedly when nervous or upset. Yep, he’s a strange one.
Our furry friend lives in an underground cave with Mr. Usajii and his other animal pals. Usajii is a Japanese play on words with the words usagi (rabbit), and jii (old man/grandpa). Mr. Usajii is a wise old rabbit who has lived in the cave for years upon years, loves to watch television, and drinks lots of green tea. Yum.
Mr. Usajii is not into anything “hip” or “cool,” and doesn’t even own a phone (lame). His favorite food is carrots, and his least favorite food is “something that is meaningless.” I think we could all learn a lot from Mr. Usajii.
So did you enjoy the videos? There are plenty more Domo themed sketches and a handful of other episodes to be found on YouTube as well. Check ‘em out!
Looking at all these pictures and videos really took me back to when I first started college and began to see Domo all over the place. T-shirts, laptop backgrounds, drawn in textbooks – he really was everywhere. I’m pretty sure that my first “mainstream” exposure to the little dude was with the “God kills a kitten” meme. Oh, nostalgia. Fond memories.
So which video was your favorite? Did you know that Domo had his own TV skits? How were you first exposed to the little bugger known as Domo? Let us know in the comments!
Saturday Timewaster is a weekly post that features Japanese videos, music, images, or games that will certainly waste your time (some weeks more than others). We hope you enjoy!
All Domo info obtained from Wikipedia.